Crime

Carjacker gets 20 years to life in deaths of two Visalia men

The man who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the Las Vegas carjacking deaths of two Visalia men was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years to life in Nevada state prison.

James Montgomery, 31, of Tustin, received two 10-years-to-life sentences that must be served consecutively, the Clark County District Attorney’s Office said.

About 11 a.m. Aug. 18, 2013, off-duty California Highway Patrol officer Jesus “Jesse” Magdaleno Jr., 33, and his brother-in-law Felix Brandon Cruz III, 31, were loading luggage into the back of Magdaleno’s pickup following a weekend bachelor party for Magdaleno.

Montgomery, who arrived in Las Vegas hours earlier and had been drinking heavily, got into the running pickup in the valet parking area of the Flamingo hotel-casino and drove away as Cruz was standing in the bed.

Magdaleno shouted at the driver that he was a CHP officer and ordered him to stop, jumping into the rear of the pickup.

But Montgomery sped away wildly and collided with an SUV and a signal pole, killing both men. His blood alcohol level was 0.197%, twice the legal limit. He told investigators he had no memory of what happened.

Several family members were in the courtroom and told District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez how devastating the deaths had been on the family, Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Staudaher said.

Montgomery also addressed the judge and expressed remorse, the prosecutor said.

He must serve a minimum of 20 years in state prison, with credit for time served in jail, before being considered for release.

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