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RENO, Nev. (AP) -- A man accused of abandoning his stepson at a Salt Lake City department store was looking for someone to kill his wife and had beaten her before she disappeared, a police detective testified.
Tuesdays' testimony came during a hearing on whether to reduce Lyle Montgomery's $2.5 million cash-only bail.
Washoe District Judge James W. Hardesty continued the hearing until Thursday.
The detective's testimony was the first detailed account of the police investigation into what they have said was the murder of Montgomery's wife, Jeannette Corpuz.
Montgomery, 42, is accused of abandoning his stepson in Salt Lake City and is the subject of a murder investigation stemming from the disappearance of Corpuz, who has not been heard from since mid-January.
He has pleaded innocent to assault with a deadly weapon and false imprisonment charges from an alleged fight he had with Corpuz at his home Oct. 26.
Because Montgomery has not been charged with murder, his lawyer Scott Freeman argued bail for his client should be reduced to $10,000 bond.
"If they want to charge him with murder, let's get it on, but if they don't, they can't use you to hold him," Freeman told the judge. "Charge the homicide case or don't."
Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Greco objected to lower bail, arguing that Montgomery likely would run and would be a threat to the community.
Reno police Detective Ron Chalmers testified Montgomery called police several days after he allegedly abandoned the child and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital Jan. 29.
He agreed to answer questions about Corpuz and her son, 3-year-old Jonathan Corpuz.
Montgomery told Chalmers that he left the boy in Salt Lake City because he knew Mormons there would take care of him. Montgomery said the boy's mother had left Jonathan behind.
The boy is now with his natural father in California. Chalmers said Montgomery told him he planned to adopt the boy.
According to Chalmers, Montgomery said, "That is why I didn't take him to the desert and leave him there to die. I could have taken him to the desert and popped him. There would have been no witnesses."
Chalmers said Montgomery told him he took Corpuz to Boomtown north of Reno, put her in a semi-truck and told her to go away.
He said Montgomery also told him he threw away the bed that was in the master bedroom because it was covered with blood after he "popped" Corpuz in the face.
Freeman continually objected to Chalmers' testimony, saying his client was not advised of his rights and at one point told the detective he should talk with his lawyer.
Hardesty said he wanted more information about Montgomery's state of mind when he called the detective, but the judge allowed Chalmers to recount the telephone conversations.
Another detective said he talked with several of Montgomery's former girlfriends.
Marie Saxon, who had a six-year relationship with Montgomery told Detective David Jenkins that Montgomery was violent and had physically abused her.
According to Jenkins, the woman met with Montgomery at the end of last year, one month before Corpuz disappeared, and he told her he had a new girlfriend.
Jenkins said Montgomery told Saxon: "I can't stand (her). I want her dead. Do you know anybody that would off her?"
Under questioning by Freeman, Jenkins conceded that other people had told him it was Saxon who was the violent one in the relationship.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)