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Harmony Montgomery’s stepmother waives arraignment on charges of lying twice to a grand jury

Kayla Montgomery entered court for proceedings at Hillsborough Superior Court in Manchester, N.H. on May 5.Charles Krupa/Associated Press

MANCHESTER, N.H. — The stepmother of the missing Manchester girl Harmony Montgomery pleaded not guilty Monday to allegedly lying twice to a grand jury about her work commitments around the time of the child’s disappearance, the latest development stemming from a sprawling six-month police investigation.

Kayla Montgomery, 31, was allegedly untruthful twice during a May 20 grand jury appearance, when she “testified falsely regarding the time of a prior work shift,” and lied about a previous work location, court records show.

Montgomery has not been implicated or charged in the 8-year-old girl’s disappearance. Authorities had previously charged her with receiving stolen guns, lying to New Hampshire officials about Harmony’s whereabouts, and taking government benefits meant for the girl. She was arrested Friday on the perjury charges when she checked into the Manchester Police Department lobby to meet previous bail conditions tied to those earlier charges.


A slew of television news vehicles sat stationed outside the Hillsborough Superior courthouse Monday morning, and a crowd of reporters gathered outside Courtroom 2, awaiting Montgomery’s scheduled 11:30 a.m. arraignment. She ultimately waived her scheduled appearance, instead entering a written plea of not guilty. The crowded courthouse was a sign that interest in the case, which has garnered national attention, remains significant.

Montgomery’s lawyer, Paul Garrity, said Monday that she had testified before a grand jury for about 45 to 50 minutes on May 20. Authorities allege she lied under oath about her work location and timing of her shift in November or December of 2019, around the time of Harmony’s disappearance.

“We’ll have to see whether or not the evidence bears out those allegations, but right now she’s entered a plea of not guilty and she stands by that plea,” Garrity said. “She seems fairly upbeat and ready to go forward with the case and get back out on bail,” Garrity said.


The scope of the grand jury investigation is unclear, but Garrity said prosecutors felt Montgomery was a “material witness” that the grand jury should hear from.

“I can’t read into the intent of the attorney general’s office,” Garrity said. “I know that they’re looking for Harmony, and I’m sure they went forward with the grand jury proceeding with good intentions. They thought Kayla was a material witness and that’s why they brought her in.”

Authorities have said previously that Kayla’s husband, Adam Montgomery, told investigators he last saw Harmony around Thanksgiving 2019, when he gave her to her mother, Crystal Sorey, a claim that prosecutors allege is false. Adam Montgomery has been jailed since January, held on charges including felony second-degree assault against Harmony in 2019, interference with custody, and endangering the welfare of a child pertaining to Harmony.

No one has been charged related to her disappearance.

Kayla Montgomery was set to be released on a $5,000 unsecured appearance bond, which she’d posted previously, according to a bail order filed Monday as part of the perjury case. Conditions of bail include not traveling outside New Hampshire; not possessing a firearm, destructive device, dangerous weapon or ammunition; and refraining from consuming an excessive amount of alcohol or from using drugs, the order said.

Last month, prosecutors suggested Montgomery had violated pre-trial guidelines that she have no contact, direct or indirect, with her husband. Prosecutors pointed to a recorded jail call with her father-in-law in which she asked him to relay a message to Adam.


”The message was essentially that [she] still loves him, that she’s going to be there for him, that she’s going to wait for him,” assistant district attorney Jesse O’Neill said during a May 5 hearing. “I would argue in a context such as this, where each of the two is potentially a witness in the other one’s cases, that affirmation of the relationship is exactly the type of communication that should be prohibited.”

Harmony’s eighth birthday is Tuesday. She was declared missing in December, more than two years after she was last seen in the custody of her father in Manchester, N.H.

How Adam Montgomery, a man with a lengthy, violent criminal record, first obtained custody of Harmony has been the subject of reviews in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

In an unsparing report last month, the Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate declared the state’s child welfare system systematically overlooked the needs of Harmony, just months after the girl was placed with her troubled father in February 2019 and moved to New Hampshire.

In her 100-page review, Maria Mossaides, director of the office, concluded that a host of adults and government agencies entrusted with protecting children consistently failed to consider what was best for Harmony. The girl originally came under the care of the Department of Children and Families when she was 2 months old, after child welfare workers became concerned her biological mother was struggling with substance use disorder.


In Massachusetts, the DCF team assigned to Harmony’s case didn’t delve into Adam Montgomery’s personal history, Mossaides’ report said, or hold him accountable for meeting goals they had set for him.

By the time he was granted custody in February 2019, Montgomery had spent just 40 hours with her, the report said.

John R. Ellement of the Globe Staff contributed to this report, and material from prior Globe stories was also used.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Dugan Arnett can be reached at dugan.arnett@globe.com.