BELTON — Cliffton Sivad Montague will spend the rest of his life in prison after being found guilty of murder Friday in the 2012 death of Laterrance Deshawn Newsome.
A Bell County jury handed down its verdict after four days of testimony and about an hour and 20 minutes of deliberation. The recommended sentence — life in prison — was returned late Friday after about five more hours of deliberation by jurors.
Newsome was shot eight times inside an apartment in the 3200 block of Hereford Lane in Killeen on Oct. 11, 2012. Montague was arrested by Killeen police six days later in a local hotel.
During testimony, prosecutors called numerous witnesses, including three women who claimed Montague admitted shooting someone.
“People heard it, and (Montague) talked about it over and over again,” said prosecutor Anne Jackson, an assistant district attorney in Bell County, during closing statements.
According to testimony during the trial, Montague and Newsome knew each other and had a confrontation in the weeks before the shooting.
Montague’s defense team questioned the evidence, including the credibility of witnesses, some of whom admitted lying to police in statements made shortly after the shooting. The defense team also questioned the Killeen Police Department’s investigation, claiming it failed to follow up on evidence that may have supported their client’s claim that there were other people in the apartment that night who may have shot Newsome.
“What I’m asking you to do is not be stampeded into an illogical conclusion,” said Michael Magana, one of Montague’s defense attorneys.
Because of a prior felony conviction for a 2003 robbery in Norfolk, Va., Montague faced a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison as the jury deliberated in the sentencing phase.
“I anticipate you are going to see a dark portrait of Cliffton Montague,” Assistant District Attorney Fred Burns told jurors before they decided to give Montague the maximum sentence.