A day after families criticize handling of police killer, he gets moved to new prison

On Tuesday, the families of two dead Charlotte police officers criticized the state’s handling of convicted killer Demetrius Montgomery, including the decision to house the inmate in a prison close to his family.

Before the day was out, Montgomery was on the move.

As of Wednesday, the 35-year-old Charlotte man, convicted of the 2007 ambush slayings of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officers Sean Clark and Jeff Shelton, now officially resides in Nash Correctional Institution, west of Rocky Mount. Before, he had been held in the state prison in Albemarle. State prison records confirm that the relocation occurred Tuesday.

State inmates are frequently moved between facilities. But the timing of Montgomery’s trip down east is notable.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers Sean Clark and Jeff Shelton were fatally ambushed in their police car in 2007. Now their families have complained to the Observer that convicted killer Demetrius Montgomery was moved to a lesser-security prison without their knowledge. On Tuesday, the same day that the Observer story appeared, Montgomery was moved to a new prison. Observer staff

The transfer occurred the same day that an Observer story questioned the status under which Montgomery was being held. In the article, the father of one of the dead officers and Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray criticized the decision by prison officials to “promote” Montgomery out of maximum security to a less restrictive status. Bob Clark, the father of Sean Clark, also told the Observer he opposed the placement of Montgomery in Albemarle, which is 40 miles from Charlotte and made visits more convenient for the inmate’s family.

Clark said that the families of the slain officers should have been consulted about any changes to Montgomery’s location or status. “We’ve had 10 years of misery, and now there’s more thrown on,” he said.

When asked if the timing of the article had anything to do with Montgomery’s move, Department of Public Safety spokesman Keith Acree did not immediately respond. He acknowledged in the earlier article that in light of the objections from Murray and the slain officers’ families, prison officials were reviewing Montgomery’s “housing assignment.”

At Nash, Montgomery will remain under medium security. But he is now some 210 miles – and a three-hour drive – from his hometown.

In a medium-security prison, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety website, inmates stay in dormitories with up to 50 other prisoners. They also have access to work opportunities inside the prison and out, as well as self-improvement programs.

Arrest of Demetrius Montgomery
The same day that families of two slain Charlotte police officers criticized the state’s treatment of convicted killer Demetrius Montgomery, the inmate was moved to a new prison. In an Observer story, the father of one of the officers criticized the state’s decision to house Montgomery at a prison in Albemarle, only 40 miles from Charlotte. That same day, Montgomery was moved more than 200 miles east to a facility near Rocky Mount. Mecklenburg jail

Under maximum-security conditions – which public safety officials say are limited to “the most dangerous inmates” who are considered a “severe threat to public safety, correctional staff and other inmates” – Montgomery would be confined, alone, in his cell for 23 hours every day. All his movement would be controlled with restraints and an armed escort.

That’s what Murray says Montgomery deserves. According to a Wednesday statement released through his spokeswoman, the prosecutor still wants Montgomery returned to maximum-security status.

Anything less, Murray said in a letter to state prisons Director George Solomon last month, “may send a message to other inmates that (the prison system) does not take what this inmate did seriously enough.”

Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095, @MikeGordonOBS

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