Man convicted in 1963 slaying of EBRSO deputy released from Angola on parole

After nearly 60 years of being locked up in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, Henry Montgomery walked out of the front gate, mostly a free man.
Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 7:11 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2021 at 8:34 PM CST

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - After nearly 60 years of being locked up in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, Henry Montgomery walked out of the front gate, mostly a free man.

In 1963, Montgomery shot and killed East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Deputy Charles Hurt. According to Hurt’s family, Hurt’s partner at the time said the deputy had his hands up and was backing away from Montgomery when he was killed.

“When that trigger was pulled, not just his life was changed for the last 50 some years, but all our lives were changed also,” said Emily Woods back in 2017 after Montgomery was initially denied parole.

Montgomery was 17 years old when he killed Hurt. He was originally tried and convicted as an adult. He was sentenced to death. That conviction was thrown out, though, after the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled Montgomery did not receive a fair trial. He was retried and convicted again. This time, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

In 2012, the US Supreme Court ruled it was “cruel and unusual punishment” for juveniles to be sentenced to life without parole.

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In 2016, Montgomery sued all the way to the US Supreme Court to make that decision retroactive and he won. His case paved the way for hundreds of offenders who had been convicted as juveniles to be released from prison on parole, including Andrew Hundley. Hundley was convicted as an adult for second-degree murder in 1997 in the slaying of 14-year-old Terri Pitre.

Pitre’s body was found burned and badly beaten behind a grocery store in Mowata, La. Hundly was 15 years old at the time of the murder. Hundley was the first juvenile “lifer” to be released under the ruling in Montgomery’s case. Since his release, he helped found the Louisiana Parole Project and advocated for Montgomery’s release.

“Since Henry’s US Supreme Court ruling in 2016, over 800 men and women across the country,” said Hundley.

Montgomery was not granted parole after the ruling. He tried in 2017 and 2019 but was ultimately denied by the Louisiana Board of Pardons and Paroles. Hurt’s family was vehemently opposed to his release.

Despite those same objections, including a strong objection by one of Hurt’s daughters, Montgomery was granted parole on Wednesday, Nov. 17. He was released from Angola to live in East Baton Rouge Parish.

“Today, Henry being home is a symbol of hope for individuals who go to prison as young people. Henry coming home sends a message that their lives matter and that they can redeem themselves and that they are better than the worst mistakes they’ve ever made,” explained Hundley.

While Montgomery has been released from prison, he will continue serving his life sentence while on parole. He must adhere to certain requirements, like a curfew and checking in regularly with a parole officer. If at any point he is not in compliance with the terms of his release, he can be sent back to prison.

After his release, Hurt’s daughter, Becky Wilson, told WAFB the family “stands against Montgomery getting out but it wasn’t for unforgiveness.” She gave this statement:

The District Attorney’s Office in East Baton Rouge Parish was opposed to Montgomery’s release as well. D.A. Hillar Moore issued this statement in response to Montgomery being granted parole:

Montgomery has repeatedly apologized to the family following his killing of Hurt. Before leaving Angola, he had one more apology.

“You can’t put sorry into words, in the right words to be used in a time like this,” said Montgomery. “I did all the time but I still have to live with that decision for the rest of my life and I want to thank the whole of them that gave me this shot, this opportunity.”

The Louisiana Parole Project will provide counseling and support to Montgomery in the following months and years after his release. They will also help him with housing and employment.

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