A St. George man will spend nearly five years in prison for illegally possessing three firearms after serving prison time for a state felony conviction.
U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart on Monday sentenced Robert William Montgomery to 57 months behind bars, the longest possible term he could impose under federal sentencing guidelines. Until last week, Montgomery faced an additional 14 months under a sentence enhancement used when illegal firearm possession results in death.
Montgomery's wife, Nicole Cottam-Montgomery, committed suicide using one of the weapons in September 2003.
However, citing a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Stewart reversed his prior decision that the enhancement could be applied in Montgomery's case. The judge found that the court's holding in Blakely vs. Washington prevented him from imposing the enhancement based on facts presented to the court but not found by a jury to be true beyond a reasonable doubt.
Stewart did, however, find that he could consider those facts in imposing a sentence within the base guideline range of 46 to 57 months.
Prosecutors maintain Montgomery repeatedly abused his wife and should have known that keeping guns in the house posed a serious threat. Montgomery on Monday said he never considered Cottam-Montgomery would be driven to suicide.
In handing down his sentence, Stewart said he believed that had Montgomery not had the firearms, "his wife would, in all likelihood, still be alive today."