Montoya guilty of killing 3-year-old

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Angel Montoya

Angel Montoya

DENVER — A Denver jury on Monday convicted Angel Montoya of strangling his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter, Neveah Gallegos, to death in 2007.

Montoya, 27, was convicted of first degree murder, child abuse resulting in death and abuse of a corpse, according to the Denver District Attorney’s office.

His conviction comes after his first trial in 2011 resulted in a mistrial. The new trial started about a month ago.

“The message is do not ever harm a child,” the lead prosecutor in the case said.

Neveah Gallegos

Neveah Gallegos

According to the Denver District Attorney, Miriam Gallegos left her daughter in Montoya’s care on Sept. 21, 2007, and then went to work at her job at Sports Authority.

When she returned to their Capitol Hill apartment later that day, she found her daughter’s body under a blanket.

Montoya, according to prosecutors, kept telling his girlfriend “I didn’t do it,” but then organized a plan to conceal the crime with Gallegos’ help.

Gallegos told a stranger that her daughter had been kidnapped. That stranger –in turn- contacted police, prompting a frantic search.

Meanwhile Montoya, according to prosecutors, placed Neaveh’s body in a blue duffel bag and left the apartment.

Neveah’s body was found three days later under a pile of debris in a west Denver ditch.

Montoya’s public defender contended there was no evidence Montoya abused the child, and also questioned why the Denver medical examiner could not definitively determine the cause of death. But the jury decided differently.

Miriam Gallegos is serving 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to negligent child abuse resulting in death.

Montoya faces a possible life sentence without parole. Sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday, May 15 at 1:30 p.m.