Handcuffed and sitting beside his defense attorney, Dallas plaintiffs lawyer Scott Marshall today pleaded guilty to murdering Staci Michelle Montgomery, the ex-wife of Marshall's former law partner Bady Sassin. Marshall received a 40-year sentence.
On Dec. 20, 2009, Marshall shot and killed Montgomery at his Addison home.
At today’s emotional plea hearing before Judge Don Adams in Dallas County Criminal District Court No. 2, Marshall kept his head down and did not speak as Montgomery’s mother, Donna Cowey, gave her victim impact statement.
“You did this because you were mad at other people. You were mad at her,” Cowey said. “But you hurt other people. . . . She was supposed to be home making cookies that day,” Cowey said, explaining that she had a tradition of making Christmas cookies with her daughters.
“I don’t sleep nights anymore . . .,” Cowey said. “My youngest daughter, she’ll never be the same. She’s 21.”
Sassin, a Dallas solo, also gave an impact statement. “I think you need to get down on your knees and beg for forgiveness” from Montgomery’s family members, Sassin said.
He also said Marshall needs to beg for forgiveness from his own parents, who sat in the courtroom at the Jan. 20 hearing. “They had dreams and aspirations when they were young. And they got you,” Sassin said. “And look at what you’ve done.”
Before finishing, Sassin added, “If you did this to get back at me . . . you win.”
At the time of Montgomery’s murder, Marshall was involved in litigation with Sassin, who had sued Marshall over the break-up of their former firm Marshall Sassin. That case settled in June 2010, according to a motion for nonsuit filed in Dallas County's 101st District Court.
At the hearing today, Marshall also pleaded guilty to drug charges connected to the murder. “The lesson is the evil of drugs,” Marshall’s attorney Gary Unell said after the hearing. “They destroy lives, even attorneys’ lives.”
Marshall “has been wanting to plead the case for some time” and did not want to put the families through a trial, Unell said. After Unell and the state could not pick a jury last December, Unell said Marshall offered to plead guilty. Many of the venire members were struck for cause during voir dire, he noted. “Some of the jurors said they couldn’t be fair to an attorney-defendant,” Unell said. “It was a complicated case.”
Dallas County assistant district attorney Rachael Jones, who prosecuted Marshall’s case, could not be reached for comment after the hearing. Marshall’s parents --- John Webster Marshall and Beverly Harrison Marshall --- declined comment.
Last month, Cowey filed a wrongful-death suit against Marshall, his parents and his 92-year-old grandmother, Kay Wiser. In answers filed this week, Marshall and his parents deny the allegations in the civil suit; Wiser has not yet filed an answer.
-- John Council and Anne K. McMillan