Annita Harmon hugs her daughter in this photo provided by the family. (Contributed photo)
VALE – Anthony Montwheeler sat in clean street clothes with a fresh haircut and stared straight ahead Friday morning as more than a dozen people delivered statements at his sentencing at the Malheur County Courthouse.
The session was the final chapter on a four-year-long legal case that began in the early morning hours of a cold, overcast January day 2017.
The former Nampa man pleaded guilty Feb. 26 to second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter and third-degree assault.
Montwheeler stabbed to death his ex-wife, Annita Harmon, killed Vale resident David Bates and injured his wife Jessica in a head-on crash as he fled police.
Under terms of the plea deal reached earlier this year, Montwheeler will serve a life sentence for killing Harmon but be eligible for parole in 25 years – when he is 78. But he would have to serve another 10 years of the 20-year sentence he has agreed to for Bates’ death. He would also get a three-year sentence for injuring Jessica Bates, to be served as part of the overall sentence.
While there was an undercurrent of anger from the relatives of David Bates and Harmon a major theme from many of the speakers was one of forgiveness.
“All I can do is pray for your tormented soul,” said Lucas Faverau, Annita Harmon’s son.
Stacey Harmon-Roeber, Annita Harmon’s older sister, told Montwheeler “I have no words of anger toward Tony.”
“God loves Tony as much as he loves me,” said Harmon-Roeber.
Harmon-Roeber told the court that her kid sister was “precocious, tow-headed, brown eyed girl that loved to tease us.”
“I remember how she loved horses and animals. I remember special sister time when she was little,” said Harmon-Roeber.
Harmon-Roeber said the Montwheeler’s crimes terrorized her.
“I used to be fearless. Now I am a fearful red head. I have anxiety. I don’t sleep at night,” Harmon-Roeber said.
At one point Harmon-Roeber began to weep.
“I wonder what her body felt when he stabbed her. I hate I wasn’t there to protect her,” Harmon-Roeber said through tears.
Jessica Bates also wept when she delivered her remarks.
“It is obvious you caused a huge amount of hurt and loss. It still feels surreal,” said Bates.
“I want you to know that I forgive you. I really do hope this will give you pause to stop and seek God,” said Bates.
Bates told the court she “never in a million years dreamed I’d be married to someone so wonderful and have five children.”
“I didn’t want to lose David so early,” said Bates.
After the testimony from the families, Dave Goldthorpe, Malheur County district attorney, told the court that “there is no punishment under the laws of the state of Oregon harsh enough for Anthony Montwheeler.”
“No amount of time in prison could ever even come close to making these families whole after what he did to all of them,” said Goldthorpe.
Goldthorpe called Montwheeler “evil.”
“He is abusive. He is a horrible human being and his face should never be seen by any of these good people who have spoken to you today,” said Goldthorpe.
Montwheeler gave a brief statement at the end of the sentencing.
“I can’t express the right words of sorrow. I have caused so much pain. To say I am sorry isn’t nearly enough,” said Montwheeler.
This story will be updated
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