Memphis, TN – Chastain Montgomery, Sr., 50, of Lavergne, TN, pleaded guilty today to seven federal crimes committed during a six-month spree that included the murders of United States Postal Service employees Paula Robinson and Judy Spray, announced U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III; Keith Fixel, Inspector in Charge of the Charlotte Division, United States Postal Inspection Service; and Mark Gwyn, Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Montgomery’s sentencing has been set for August 12, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. before Senior U.S. District Judge Jon P. McCalla. He is facing consecutive life sentences in federal prison without the possibility of parole.
Montgomery’s guilty plea means he will not face the death penalty for his crimes. Had the case gone to trial and Montgomery been found guilty, a second unanimous vote of the jury on the issue of capital punishment would have resulted in a death sentence.
“For the Spray and the Robinson/Croom families, today represents one more step on the road to finding justice for their loved ones,” said U.S. Attorney Stanton. “The callous and unconscionable nature of the murders of these two innocent women and dedicated federal employees illustrates the depravity of these senseless crimes and underscores the importance of ensuring that the defendant can never inflict this type of mayhem again.”
“Millions of Americans see postal workers serving their families as a comforting thought. That makes the senseless murder of two innocent postal employees resonate with our country as a whole and our employees on a deeply personal level,” said Inspector in Charge Fixel. “The safety and security of postal employees is our highest priority and we are thankful for the hard work and dedication of our Inspectors along with the other law enforcement agencies that helped to bring this case to a conclusion.”
“We are grateful for the multi-agency effort that led to Montgomery’s capture and today’s admission of guilt,” said TBI Director Gwyn. “Though it can never fully comfort the families of the two women who died because of his actions, I hope it brings a small sense of comfort and closure to know the man responsible will never go free.”
According to the facts alleged in the superseding indictment and revealed during subsequent hearings, on October 18, 2010, Montgomery, Sr. and his son Chastain Montgomery, Jr. drove from Nashville, TN to Henning, robbed the United States Post Office, and then murdered Sales and Service Associate Robinson and Rural Carrier Associate Spray.
Following their crimes, they returned to Nashville. Eight days later, Montgomery, Jr. stole a Nissan Frontier pick-up truck in Smyrna, TN and used it as the getaway vehicle following their robbery at gunpoint of Southeast Financial Credit Union in Lavergne, TN on October 29, 2010.
One month later on November 29, 2010, the pair stole a Chevy Venture minivan and used it as a getaway vehicle following the robbery at gunpoint of Mid-South Bank in Smyrna, TN.
On February 14, 2011, the pair made plans to leave the Middle Tennessee area. Montgomery, Jr. carjacked a man and stole his Chevrolet pick-up truck, driving it from Nashville to Mason, TN. During the journey he was observed by Chief Deputy Sheriff Mike Smothers of the Haywood County Sheriff’s Department, who began a vehicular pursuit.
Chief Deputy Smothers reported that Montgomery, Jr. began driving at an excessive rate of speed and veered into other lanes in what appeared to be an attempt to cause an auto accident. Chief Deputy Smothers was joined in his pursuit by Mason Police Chief J. C. Paris.
When Montgomery, Jr. entered the town of Mason, he exited his vehicle and began shooting at members of law enforcement and innocent civilians outside a nearby market. Chief Deputy Smothers returned fire and struck Montgomery, Jr. who died at the scene.
Law enforcement immediately cordoned off the crime scene and began processing evidence. While doing so, officials noticed Montgomery, Sr. cross the crime scene barrier and begin moving toward the Chevy truck driven by his son. He was taken into custody and transported to the Tipton County Sheriff’s Department. While there, Montgomery, Sr. was interviewed by United States Postal Inspectors and made a full confession to all of his crimes.
Law enforcement confiscated a number of weapons and other items from the Mason crime scene, including the Ruger 9mm pistol and the Smith & Wesson .40 caliber pistol used to kill Robinson and Spray; a .45 caliber Glock pistol; a .380 pistol; two Mossburg 12 gauge shotguns; a Remington 12 gauge shotgun; a Springfield 9mm pistol; a Rossi .357 Magnum revolver; large amounts of ammunition; ski masks and latex gloves.
This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service; the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; the Tennessee Highway Patrol; 25th District Attorney General Mike Dunavant’s Office; the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department; the Tipton County Sheriff’s Department; the Haywood County Sheriff’s Department; the Mason Police Department; the Henning Police Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the United States Secret Service; the Tennessee Department of Correction; the U.S. Marshals Service; the Lavergne Police Department; the Smyrna Police Department; and the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department.
This case is being prosecuted by United States Attorney Edward L. Stanton III; Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Arvin; Assistant U.S. Attorney Lorraine Craig; Assistant U.S. Attorney Stuart Canale; and Capital Case Section Attorney Michael Warbel.