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November 28, 2007

Man gets 20 years in 'Internet love triangle' killing

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Despite a last-ditch effort to withdraw his guilty plea, Thomas Montgomery was sentenced Tuesday in State Supreme Court to 20 years in prison for the 2006 killing of a Lockport man.

Montgomery, 48, of Cheektowaga, pleaded guilty Aug. 20 to first-degree manslaughter in the September 2006 death of 22-year-old Brian Barrett, a Starpoint grad.

Justice Penny Wolfgang ordered Montgomery to serve 20 years in prison with five years post-release supervision.

“This is a totally senseless killing,” Wolfgang said. “This young man has been cut off in the prime of his life. ... All of this for absolutely no reason.”

Montgomery, 48, shot Barrett three times as Barrett sat in his pickup in the parking lot of Dynabrade Corporation on Sheridan Drive in Clarence, where both men worked.

Police have said the killing was motivated by an Internet love triangle involving both men and a West Virginia woman, identified as Mary Sheiler.

As the sentence was read, Montgomery stared down at the table in front of him, his face showing no emotion.

Brian’s father, Dan Barrett, read a statement before the sentence was handed down.

He read from a letter written by one of Brian’s teachers at Niagara-Orleans BOCES, Scott Brauer, who wrote of Brian’s “infectious smile,” his leadership skills and his dedication to learning and becoming a teacher.

“My wife and I don’t understand how this could happen to our family,” Dan said, glancing at Montgomery. “We don’t understand how such evil could exist in the world. To gun down a boy over simple jealousy does not make sense.”

The Barretts had hoped Montgomery would receive the maximum sentence of 25 years.

“We were hoping for more, but to be honest with you, we were prepared to take the 20 if we had to, which obviously we did,” Dan said. “We were glad to see that the judge didn’t prolong this any longer and give (Montgomery) more rights than my son ever got.”

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