Joe Montgomery (Booking Photo)
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – The man convicted of shooting Phillip Connors and David Morales at a Chino mobile home park in 2017 was sentenced Thursday to two consecutive life sentences in state prison without the possibility of parole.
On July 25, a jury convicted 55-year-old Joe Montgomery of Chino of the first-degree murders of 69-year-old Philip Connors of Newport Beach and 54-year-old David Morales of Chino.
Prior to yesterday’s pronouncement of judgment, family members read victim impact statements. Phillip Connors’ wife, Patricia, said the following (excerpt):
The anticipation of the trial made us all physically and emotionally sick and hearing the horrible details during the trial was brutal and more than we could tolerate. Who could imagine the horror Dave and Phil felt when they realized that under no circumstances was the defendant going to let them live? And what was going through Phil's mind when he was running for his life but knew in the end that he was going to be assassinated? And the defendant can only say that he was having an emotional outburst? Really? […] We feel the defendant should never be allowed to rejoin society as it has been proven that he is a cold-hearted and calculating murderer. The defendant chose his actions and his fate while sadly Phil and Dave had no control over theirs.
According to Deputy District Attorney Angela Gerovac, who prosecuted the case, the defendant was a longtime resident of the Four Seasons Mobile Home Park who had several previous confrontations with the park manager, David Morales, regarding violations of park rules.
Mr. Morales and the owner of the property, Phil Connors, planned to serve the defendant with an “Eight Day Demand for Compliance” regarding rules violations.
When the defendant returned to the park in the late morning of Jan. 28, 2017, he saw Mr. Morales and Mr. Connors standing at the back of the property. He drove his truck past the men and then went back to his trailer—at which time it is believed he retrieved a handgun. Montgomery then drove his vehicle back to where the victims were standing. This interaction is captured on multiple video surveillance cameras in the park.
According to Deputy DA Gerovac, the defendant parked his truck in a manner that blocked the victims in with his vehicle and then got out to speak with them. At that point, Mr. Morales attempted to serve the defendant with the Demand, but a brief verbal altercation ensued. Montgomery calmly walked back to his truck and retrieved a handgun from the front seat.
Once he emerged from his vehicle, Montgomery shot and killed both victims. He then fled the scene in his truck but was apprehended a short time later by Ontario Police Officers.
David Morales’ daughter, Anita, read the following prior to sentencing (excerpt):
My father David Morales took his last breath as he was gripping with pain from the first shot to his abdomen and the last thing he saw was his killer running toward him and aiming to his head. That day was the day my heart shattered, and it has been in pieces since [….] Although this sentencing will not bring my father back, I hope it will prevent the defendant from killing again.
Phillip Connors’ son, Ryan, said the following (excerpt):
There’s no wrong or right way to die, but not getting a chance to say goodbye and tell someone how much they were appreciated makes this that much more difficult. My father will miss many holidays, birthdays, weddings, first days of school and other special events. While the person who did this will continue to live. The sleepless nights, horrible images and wondering what the next 20-30 years could have been will continue to haunt me and my family. I hope that the defendant experiences the same level of discomfort, anxiety and stress that we will continue to endure. Even then, this will still be a horrific and unfair situation no family should have to experience in their lifetime.
The case was investigated by a team of officers and detectives from the Chino Police Department, led by Detective Michael Johnson, as well as experts from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.