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Montano gets life sentence for 1990 murder

Aurelio Montano 55 Auroris charged 1990 death his wife Guadalupe MariMontano whose body has not been found. Montano is already

Aurelio Montano, 55, of Aurora, is charged in the 1990 death of his wife, Guadalupe Maria Montano, whose body has not been found. Montano is already serving life in prison for ordering the murders of a man and woman.

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Updated: March 12, 2014 6:21AM

Maribel Montano Barajas was 10 years old in 1990 when she last saw her mother, Maria.

Now in her 30s, Barajas can still remember her mother’s scent, she told a judge Monday morning during her victim impact statement at the sentencing hearing of her father, Aurelio Montano.

In October, Aurelio Montano, 58, was convicted of killing his wife, Maria Guadalupe (Lupe) Montano, who disappeared from her Aurora home in June 1990.

Kane County Judge Karen Simpson sentenced Montano to a natural life sentence on Monday.

Already serving life in prison on two unrelated murders, Montano will have to serve his new sentence consecutively, as mandated by the law.

“Whatever is going to be is going to be,” Montano said through an interpreter when given an opportunity to address the court. “You already have [my sentence] planned. I can respect your opinion.”

Montanto did, however, maintain his innocence on Monday, claiming his counsel was ineffective during his October 2013 trial.

He told Simpson that his attorney failed to ask witnesses certain questions during testimony, and that there was a lack of evidence because Maria’s body was never found.

After hearing Montano’s arguments, Simpson disagreed. She dismissed Montano’s argument as insufficient and having no merit.

“I am still declaring myself innocent of this,” Montano said. “...They’re accusing me of a death I never did.”

Montano was charged with the disappearance and murder of his then wife in 2008 after investigators obtained details from family members about Montano’s actions around the time Maria vanished, including how he disposed of her body. Prosecutors said Montano strangled Maria, 35, believing she had been unfaithful.

The state’s case was bolstered by cadaver dog search results which indicated the scent of human remains on a carpet found buried on a Naperville ranch where Montano’s family members worked and lived. According to trial testimony, Montano buried his wife’s body on the farm, but moved it at a later date.

“That was not [Maria’s scent]. I am sure of that 100 percent,” Montano said Monday. “[Maria] flew to Mexico.”

But, prosecutors said Maria never went to Mexico. Instead, they believe she was strangled by her husband of 12 years, and then her body was disposed of. Court testimony by Montano’s family members showed that he enlisted their help to hide Maria’s body.

For Maria and Aurelio’s daughter, Maribel, the sentencing of her father will allow her to heal, she said.

“I am incredibly grateful for everyone’s hard work on this case,” she said. “We can now mourn her loss and begin to heal.”

From the stand, Maribel Barajas listed memories she has of her mother, from her scent to the softness of her hands. She spoke of her mother’s strength, love and courage, of the evenings they spent cooking together, and of her mother’s loving hugs.

“I remember her being so beautiful. She loved me more than anything in the world,” Barajas said. “My mother’s laughter could fill a room with joy ... I can only dream today what it would be like to have her with us.”

Montano has been serving a life sentence for the 1996 murders of Juan Medina and Claudia Ramos in Aurora. He was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of concealment of a homicide in 1998.

“Mr. Montano is an example of the worst of the worst,” said Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon. “He is headed to where he belongs, behind bars fro the rest of his life to never again walk among free men. With this sentence, our thoughts remain with Lupe’s family, who we hope believe that justice finally has been served.”

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