Tow-truck driver Donald Montanez, who was convicted of 3rd degree murder for the shooting of Glen “Chuck” Rich in March, had a sentencing hearing on Friday. The case was complicated by the fact that authorities have uncovered a web of lies showing that Donald Montanez does not legally exist.
Investigators learned that Donald Montanez had lied throughout the legal process from arrest to conviction. The defendant said he had never been arrested before and that he is a graduate of Penn State. In fact, his real name is Donald Rivera, he has had a string of arrests under assumed names beginning in 1981, and he has never set foot on the Penn State campus as a student.
In their pleading to the court, prosecutors slammed Montanez for his prior misdeeds which included theft, impersonating a police officer and domestic violence under the names Donald Rivera, Donald DiMartino, and Donald Montanez. The State asked for the maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The defense asked for the minimum mandatory sentence of 25 years behind bars.
In Friday’s hearing, Judge William Fuente heard victim impact statements from seven Rich family members. His widow Adama tearfully recounted how her mortally wounded husband called her to say he loved her as he took his last breaths. Brother Celester Rich and father Bennie Rich railed against Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law as a legal excuse to kill.
Montanez was offered the opportunity to address the court and the gallery but declined.
In the end, Judge Fuente handed down a sentence that was more generous than the State wanted, but not as lenient as the defense had requested. Montanez will serve a mandatory 35 years in prison (he was also sentenced on lesser counts, but those terms will be served concurrently). If Montanez serves his entire sentence, he will be 85 upon his release.
The Rich family professed satisfaction with the sentence afterward. Moreso than the defendant himself, who was reportedly placed on suicide watch upon his return to Hillsborough County Jail.
The defense has said they will certainly appeal the murder conviction, and will ask that their client be released on bail pending appeal. Factoring in the extent of Montanez’ deception, it seems unlikely such an order will be granted.