Potential jurors in the trial of Jacqueline Dawn “Jackie” Montgomery were told Monday about the outcome of her husband’s trial in the same case.
Montgomery, 44, Crestline, faces three murder charges in connection with the 2021 beating death of Michael “Mikey” Benedict.
Benedict, a 40-year-old Crawford County native, was found unconscious by Crestline police investigating a 911 report of a beating shortly after 2:20 am Oct. 10, 2021. The beating followed an incident at Just Jokin’ Bar and Grill. He died on Nov. 4, 2021.
As the process of seating a jury began Monday morning, Judge Sean Leuthold of Crawford County Common Pleas Court spoke to the pool of more than 60 potential jurors.
“I usually don’t go into what actually happened at the end of the trial, but I think I have to in this particular case, because I want to stress something to you: Mr. Montgomery was basically facing the same charges that Jackie Montgomery is facing,” Leuthold said. “That was aggravated murder, purposeful murder and violent felony murder, three charges. Mr. Montgomery was found not guilty of aggravated murder. He was, however, found guilty of purposeful murder and violent felony murder. …
‘”The reason I’m telling you that is because you can’t look at what happened in that case and say ‘Well, if it happened in that case, I should just do the same thing in this case.’ What you have to do is look at the evidence as it pertains to this defendant, evaluate the testimony, look at the evidence that’s given to you and make up your own decision and not consider what happened in that other case.”
Each of the murder charges Jackie Montgomery faces is an unclassified felony. An aggravated murder charge specifies the killing was planned. A second charge would require the jury to find the killing was done purposefully. The third, known as violent felony murder, would require jurors to find the death was the result of a felonious assault committed by the accused. Unlike the lesser charges, an aggravated murder sentence offers no possibility of parole.
Timothy Montgomery, 50, Crestline, has been sentenced to life in prisonwith the possibility of parole after 15 years.
Defense requested that jurors be told of verdict
Before jurors were brought into the courtroom, Leuthold discussed his decision to make the announcement with attorneys in the case.
“The defense counsel is concerned that the jury will remember there was a guilty verdict in this case and think it was guilty across the board, which he is worried will cause a great deal of prejudice to his client, and make the jury more likely to find her guilty of aggravated murder,” Leuthold said. “Obviously the sentence for aggravated murder is significantly more than just purposeful murder or felony murder, in this case.”
Because of that concern, defense attorney James Mayer III of Mansfield asked the judge to tell the jury what the verdict in that case was.
Normally, the jury would not be informed of the conviction, but Leuthold said he understood Mayer’s concern.
“This is an important decision; probably the most important decision we’ll make in this trial,” Leuthold said.
Mayer told the court he understood being told of Tim Montgomery’s conviction might prejudice jurors towards returning a guilty verdict. “We feel that is outweighed by the benefit we get … in making sure they know the entire verdict, because as you indicated, the potential consequence of aggravated murder is so significant.”
In speaking to the jury later Monday morning, Leuthold instructed potential jurors to disregard anything they may have heard about the case either in the news or on social media and instead base their verdict on the evidence presented in court.
“It’s probably the most important thing I can tell you, is you have to reach your own, independent decision before you can render a verdict here in this case,” Leuthold said.
This article originally appeared on Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum: Potential jurors in Jackie Montgomery trial told of earlier verdict