Sentencing, June 19, 2001

Photograph by Martha Deed

Annette Montstream pled guilty to arranging for the murder of her husband, John F. Montstream.

She avoided going to trial on charges including Second Degree Murder, which would have exposed her to a sentence of as much as 25 years to Life by pleading guilty to the following charges:

Manslaughter in the First Degree

Criminal Possession of a Weapon

Criminal Solicitation in the Second Degree

Her guilty plea was accepted by the trial judge after the Niagara County District Attorney's Office consulted with John Montstream's parents, brother, and other family members.

The family agreed to this plea, because it insured a lengthy prison sentence for Annette. Eliminating the trial would make it easier to shield the children from newspaper and TV coverage of the murder.

Under the conditions of the plea,

Annette agreed to testify against her co-conspirator who was charged with the actual killing

Annette would give up her rights to an appeal, thus putting an end to the criminal proceedings in her case

Annette would be imprisoned until her children were young adults

June 19, 2001, the Hon. Peter Broderick, Niagara County Court, sentenced Annette Montstream to consecutive sentences on the charges to which she had pled guilty. Her sentence was 20 - 41 years. She would be eligible to seek parole in 2018.

Annette Montstream appealed the legality of her sentence despite the "no appeals" provision of her plea agreement. The appeal was heard by New York State Supreme Court's Appellate Division, Fourth Department, September 14, 2005 in Rochester, New York. Each side was given five minutes to argue the case. John and Marion Montstream attended the court hearing.

September 30, 2005, the Appellate Division rejected Annette Montstream's appeal. In rejecting Annette Montstream's appeal, the Court noted:

According to the statement . . . defendant made to the police, she asked her codefendant to kill her husband and was aware on the evening of the shooting that her codefendant was setting up a meeting with her husband to carry out the killing, and defendant did nothing to prevent the killing or to warn her husband. In addition, she was aware that her codefendant possessed a pistol with which he intended to kill her husband, and knew where his body was located before the police arrived at her home to inform her that her husband was dead. Defendant also admitted that it was her idea to park the family's van, containing her husband's body, in the specific parking lot where the van was found.

From: Memorandum and Order, 1073 KA 01-02506, September 30, 2005

Annette's alleged co-conspirator, Michael Northrup had given a statement to police in July 1998. The portion of the statement in which Northrup described what happened to John Montstream was ruled inadmissible because Northrup provided those details after he had requested an attorney.

Michael Northrup went to trial on charges including Second Degree Murder. Northrup's first trial ended with a hung jury, June 9, 2000. The second trial ended with a hung jury, April 2, 2001. The third trial ended with an acquittal, November 26, 2001.