Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Addicted to Murder: The True Story of Daniel Conahan Jr.


On November 1, 1999, the penalty phase began. According to court records, the jury spent the majority of the first day examining photographs of Conahan's handiwork. Jurors looked at pictures of Richard Montgomery's corpse, as it appeared at the crime scene and during the autopsy. Wearing stern faces, the panel members examined the rope grooves on Montgomery's wrists and neck. They were also shown photographs of Montgomery's back, which was scraped in a criss-cross pattern, presumably caused from shifting back and forth against the tree while attempting escape. One juror stared long and hard at the picture of Montgomery's groin, which was missing its genitals.

Later that day, jurors listened to Conahan's 80-year-old aunt describe him as "friendly, jovial and honest." She testified that Conahan was dedicated to his parents, moving from Chicago to Punta Gorda to care for them.

Prosecutors rested their case after Lee County medical examiner, Dr. Carol Huser, testified Montgomery was likely conscious long enough to realize what was happening, as Conahan strangled him. Deputy State Attorney Marshall King Hall then asked, "Dr. Huser, would that be a terrifying death?"

"It sure would terrify me," she responded.

During cross-examination of Huser, defense attorney Paul Sullivan asked questions about erotic asphyxiation -- cutting off breathing to heighten sexual arousal. However, Hall was quick to point out, the implication that Montgomery died this way begs the question of why Montgomery's genitals were missing.

During closing arguments, prosecutor Bob Lee told jurors Conahan murdered the victim for twisted sexual gratification. Afterwards, Conahan stood and shouted to the jury, "I do not know Mr. Montgomery, nor did I ever!" Blackwell had bailiffs rush the jury out of the courtroom and told Conahan he could behave himself, be bound and gagged, or leave. Conahan replied he wanted to leave, but on the advise of his attorneys he decided to stay.

On November 3, 1999, after deliberating for just 22 minutes, the jury recommended that Judge Blackwell execute Daniel Conahan Jr. for the murder of Richard Montgomery. The following month, on December 10, 1999, Judge William Blackwell announced his decision. "It is obvious that during this ordeal, Montgomery was confined or imprisoned against his will," Blackwell read from a document. "Such confinement against his will was for the obvious purpose of inflicting bodily harm upon the victim or terrorizing him. The crime was especially heinous, atrocious and cruel. Two medical examiners testified that many of Montgomery's wounds were inflicted before he died. May God have mercy on his soul," Judge Blackwell said as he sentenced Daniel Owen Conahan Jr. to death.

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