Man Accused of Abandoning Stepson in Utah Enters Court Plea

Man Accused of Abandoning Stepson in Utah Enters Court Plea

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RENO, Nev. (AP) -- The man accused of abandoning his stepson in Utah and suspected in his wife's disappearance has pleaded innocent to charges that he threatened her with a loaded gun and wouldn't let her leave their home last October.

Lyle Montgomery, 42, declined to enter his own plea, prompting Washoe District Judge James W. Hardesty to submit the innocent plea for him. Montgomery was being held on a $2.5 million, cash-only bail.

His lawyer, Scott Freeman, said Montgomery stood silent because he plans to challenge the two felony charges: one count of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of false imprisonment, each carrying a maximum of six years in prison.

While Montgomery appeared in court, police continued their search for his wife, Jeannette Corpuz, who has not been heard from since mid-January.

Officials have said they believe she is dead and suspect Montgomery is responsible, although he has not been charged with murder.

"Other charges are still under investigation," Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Greco told the Reno Gazette-Journal after Friday's brief hearing.

Montgomery became a suspect after authorities found his 3-year-old stepson -- Corpuz's son -- abandoned in a store in Salt Lake City on Jan. 25. Days later, police found Montgomery on the floor of his condominium with a handgun nearby.

He was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital after he was found to be a suicide threat. He was released from the hospital Feb. 27 and immediately placed in police custody.

Because Corpuz could not be found to testify at Montgomery's March 7 preliminary hearing, Greco relied on the testimony of officers to explain what happened Oct. 26 when police were called to their Reno condominium.

Officers received a 911 hang up call and heard her scream: "He's got a gun" on a second call, they testified. Police went to the home and found Corpuz running out, claiming Montgomery had held a loaded gun to her head and face, the officers testified.

Montgomery was arrested, but his initial preliminary hearing in December was postponed when Corpuz did not appear. She returned to the area Dec. 27, and married Montgomery Dec. 29, according to court papers.

Five days later, she told Montgomery she no longer wanted to be married, Freeman said in motion asking that his bail be reduced to $10,000.

Freeman has said he believes Corpuz made up the story and is in hiding. He said he plans to challenge the two counts against Montgomery. The police testimony was hearsay, he said, and should not have been admitted in court.

Hardesty set a July 21 trial date on the two charges, but also scheduled hearings in April, May and June for several motions to be argued before the trial, including Freeman's request for a lower bail.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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