Parole denied for man convicted of killing sheriff's deputy in 1963

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A man convicted of murdering a deputy with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office learned Monday he will be staying in prison.

Henry Montgomery, 71, was denied early release by a three-member Louisiana parole board.

The Louisiana Center for Children's Rights released the following statement about the parole denial:

Mr. Montgomery is a prime example of how children can transform as they age, and we are deeply disappointed that the parole board did not recognize this. At age 71, Mr. Montgomery has a long track record of positively contributing to the Angola community and taking steps toward self-improvement - all signs of rehabilitation that the Supreme Court cited in his case. His denial today begs the question of whether the principles behind the Supreme Court rulings are truly understood and upheld by stakeholders across the system.

He is serving a life sentence for shooting and killing Deputy Charles Hurt in 1963. Montgomery was just 17-years-old at the time. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that courts can't sentence offenders 18 years of age and younger to life without parole, which is part of the reason Montgomery was given a shot at early release.

Family members of the late Hurt attended the meeting, along with supporters of Montgomery's release. Only one member of the board, Alvin Roche, voted in favor of Montgomery's release.

At the beginning of the hearing, Roche noted Montgomery had started a boxing club and church group at Angola. He also said Montgomery had just 23 disciplinary strikes during his 54-year sentence.

But the other two members on the board, Kenneth Loftin and James Kuhn, were not convinced, focusing on the police report for the 1963 incident. That report states Hurt had his hands in the air and was backing away before Montgomery fired his weapon. Montgomery disputes this.

He spoke to the parole board through a video monitor from Angola, and said he was "scared" at the time of shooting and was trying to protect himself. Montgomery also said Hurt was reaching for his gun before the shots were fired. He later said he has asked Hurt's family for forgiveness and is deeply sorry for Hurt's death.

Andrew Hundley, a former inmate at Angola, spoke in favor of Montgomery's release. Hundley works for the Louisiana Parole Project, which supports parolees. Hundley says he served time at Angola with Montgomery and considers him a positive mentor. But after Hundley spoke, members of Hurt's family came forward in opposition to the release.

Hurt's daughter, Becky Wilson, said she had forgiven Montgomery, but feels "justice has been done and he needs to stay in prison."

Hurt's grandson, J.P. DeGravelles, now a LaFourche Parish Sheriff's Office deputy, said the family was being "victimized again" by this hearing.

Montgomery needed unanimous support to be approved for parole. The 71-year old can apply for another parole hearing, but he must wait two years. Until then, he will remain at Angola.


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