Suspect in Portales man’s death had a history of mental competency issues

Sharna Johnson

A Portales man charged this week with murder has a history of mental competency issues, court records show.

Isaac Montano II had been jailed since 2007 on drug and alcohol
charges. He was released June 25 on bond reduced by District Judge
Teddy Hartley while defense attorneys argued he was legally incompetent
to stand trial, records show.

Montano also faced charges of shoplifting and drug possession in
2006, but was freed after Magistrate Judge Jane Martin found him
incompetent to stand trial in Portales Magistrate Court, records show.

Neither Martin nor Hartley was available for comment on Thursday, according to spokespersons in their offices.
Montano, 46, is accused of stabbing to death Don Chapman, 69, of Portales on Monday.

He’s being held without bond in Roosevelt County Detention Center.

Court records in the 2007 cases show criminal prosecutors have
continually argued against Montano’s release from jail, referring to
him as a risk to the community. They cited a 1994 case in which Montano
was convicted of battery on a police officer.

Meanwhile, defense attorneys repeatedly asked for a reduction in bond, records show.

Last month, bond was reduced from a total of $66,000 to $3,000, records show.

“We had hearings and evidence was presented and the court
determined that he was entitled to be released,” said defense attorney
Michael Garrett, who represented Montano in the DWI case.

Garrett said defense attorneys argued the state had to prove
Montano was competent to stand trial because of the 2006 ruling and,
after almost a year, competency was never determined.

“I can honestly tell you that it’s a simple matter. The state
has a person that has been previously determined to be incompetent as a
matter of law (and) until there is a hearing to determine his
competency, he is considered incompetent under the law,” he said.

“Those hearings were postponed in these prior cases for an
extended period of time at the request of the state. Due to the
extended time … he was granted conditions of release, which, under
the law, he was entitled to.”

Prosecutors dismissed charges in the 2007 cases on Wednesday, District Attorney Matt Chandler said.

“Due to the fact that (Montano) was charged for murder in
Roosevelt County, the state has dismissed the (other unrelated cases)
without prejudice to allow the murder charges to proceed in Roosevelt
County without a conflict,” he said.

Chandler said the legal competency level for a homicide is
different than that of a DWI or drug possession charge and, “we felt
like it would be more beneficial to all parties involved to have a
thorough evaluation if needed in the homicide case.”

About 5 p.m. Monday, law officers found Chapman inside his
residence at 901 S. Main in Portales. He was semiconscious and
suffering from multiple wounds. He died later Monday in a Lubbock
hospital.

In addition to being stabbed multiple times, Chandler said Chapman had been shot.

Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry said officers were initially
called to the area after witnesses saw Montano walking around covered
in blood.

In an interview with police after the stabbing, records show
Montano alleges Chapman picked him up in a pickup truck and offered him
work at his residence.

Montano told police he began struggling with Chapman after the
victim made sexual advances toward him, according to court records.

Montano told police he took a gun away from Chapman and “blacked out,” records show.

A family member of the victim declined to comment Wednesday when contacted by phone.

Police have said they believe robbery was the motive for the stabbing.