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Teen Sentenced To 15-30 Years For Murdering Grandmother

January 29, 2019 GMT

WILKES-BARRE — A Black Creek Twp. man accused of fatally stabbing his grandmother during an alcohol-fueled attack pleaded guilty Monday to third-degree murder.

Eric S. Montanari Jr., 18, was immediately sentenced to 15 to 30 years in state prison for the March 16, 2018, stabbing that killed Sandra Lee Montanari, 66, of Weston.

During a hearing Monday morning, Montanari turned to face more than a dozen family members who attended the hearing and said he did not want to disrespect his grandmother’s memory by making excuses for his actions.

“I want to express my sincere apologies for all the pain I’ve caused,” Montanari said. “Words cannot explain the extent of remorse I have. ... As a man I stand before God and the court to accept responsibility.”

According to prosecutors, Montanari had been drinking at his home with a relative, Allen Montanari, 44, at Eric Montanari’s home at 63½ Derringer St. the night before the slaying. Then they decided to return to the Market Street home where Allen Montanari lived with his mother, Sandra Montanari.

When Allen Montanari went to the bathroom he heard his mother yelling his name and found Eric Montanari on top of her. He pulled Eric Montanari off Sandra Montanari and took the teenager outside, according to prosecutors.

The duo fought and Allen Montanari sustained stab wounds to the lower back, prosecutors said.

First responders found Sandra Montanari on the floor between the couch and the coffee table, Assistant District Attorney Thomas Hogans said in court Monday. Eric Montanari was also “clearly under the influence of alcohol,” he said.

Sandra Montanari sustained two lethal stab wounds and died of multiple stab wounds, he said.

“Obviously, this was an extremely difficult case on the family,” Hogans said. “In effect, they lost two family members.”

Under terms of a plea deal Eric Montanari reached, prosecutors dropped a count of aggravated assault against him.

Defense attorney Jonathan Blum urged Judge Joseph F. Sklarosky Jr. to accept the terms of the plea agreement, noting Eric Montanari had no criminal history and has accepted responsibility for his actions.

“He’s not made any excuses,” Blum said. “He’s relatively young. He was intoxicated at the time.”

Sandra Montanari’s daughter, Kimberly Gower, tearfully addressed the court, talking about how her life has changed since her mother was murdered by her own family member.

“My mother was a great lady and she loved him probably more than his own mother,” Gower said.

She noted people often change during prison, and urged the judge to do what he could to ensure that change is for the better.

“I just ask the court to make sure he gets help,” Gower said. “He needs to remove himself from whatever caused himself to do this.”

Calling the offense a “senseless crime,” Sklarosky abided by the terms of the plea agreement and sentenced Eric Montanari to 15 to 30 years in prison. Eric Montanari was ordered to undergo a mental health assessment and treatment, and to have no contact with his family “unless they choose to have contact with him.”

Sklarosky gave him credit for 319 days time served.

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