It may have taken 15 years, but justice was finally served last Friday in a Sacramento County court, when Javier Montanez Jr. was convicted of the 2006 second-degree murder of Galt teen Clinton Poole. Convicted by a jury, Montanez was also found guilty of the special allegation that he personally used a knife in the commission of the murder.
Montanez fled the country shortly after the 2006 fatal incident, stymieing police efforts to bring closure to the open case.
According to a Monday morning Sacramento County District Attorney press release, Montanez fled to Mexico and remained a fugitive until 2018 when U.S. authorities were notified that he had been located in Mexico. Montanez was then extradited in 2019 to face homicide charges in Sacramento County.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Montanez’ trial had been continued until earlier this month.
After pleading not guilty, the trial lasted four days, after which the jury returned two days later with the guilty verdict.
According to Herald archives, the incident occurred at a party on Moose Creek Way in a northeast Galt neighborhood. Violence erupted, turning the noisy party into a deadly one as a fight involving up to 30 people exploded in the street and 19-year-old Poole was stabbed to death and at least two others suffered serious injuries.
According to witnesses, the incident began just after 11:30 p.m., when uninvited guests arrived at the party and took offense at a song being played.
Witnesses reported that members of two separate gang affiliations were present at the party. Police believed that the fight erupted between rival members when one group was asked to leave.
Galt police received the call at approximately 11:45 p.m., stating there was a fight involving as many as 50 people that were using knives, bats and pipes.
According to a 2006 police statement, when police arrived, the larger brawl had broken up and many people were back in the home of Jose Martinez who had hosted the party. Some attendees were still mingling in the street and others were crowded around Poole’s home.
“From what we can gather from witness statements, the first incident, the big fight, was all but over without serious injury to anyone. The uninvited element had been asked to leave and were, in fact, on the way to their cars to leave, when Poole, who had not been at the party, began an interaction from across the street on his front porch with one of the men who was leaving,” said then Galt Police Lieutenant Ken Erickson in a 2006 statement. “Witnesses say a verbal confrontation started a second fight on the Poole property where the whole group of men attacked Poole and were kicking and beating him.”
Witnesses told police that that was when Montanez took out a knife and stabbed Poole in the chest, delivering what eventually became a fatal blow.
Suffering from several deep lacerations himself, Montanez was dropped off at Lodi Memorial Hospital, where he told medical personnel that he was attacked at a Galt gas station.
Hospital officials called the Galt police who quickly identified Montanez as one of the men involved in the earlier fight on Moose Creek Way.
Unable to put the pieces of the witness statements together in time, Montanez had checked out of the hospital before police could make the arrangements for an arrest warrant.
Montanez faces a maximum sentence of 16 years to life in prison. Sentencing is set for Aug. 20, 2021, at 9 a.m. in Department 21 before the Honorable Shelleyanne Chang.