A Colorado man was sentenced to life in prison last week for killing his friend and burying the body in a makeshift “tomb” in his unfinished basement.
Russell Montoya Jr., 39, was was found guilty in the gruesome murder of 38-year-old Shane Nelson, whose body was found “encased" in concrete in a laundry room crawl space in 2019.
Montoya was convicted of first-degree murder and tampering with a deceased human body on April 16 following a four-day trial. He received a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
“The gruesome nature of this crime is beyond words,” Adams County District Attorney Brian Mason said in a press release. “I’m grateful to the jury for enduring through the presentation of the evidence and for returning a just verdict.”
On Nov. 8, 2019, Russell Montoya Jr., 39, fatally shot Nelson at his home in unincorporated Adams County after an argument erupted regarding his youngest daughter, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com.
Montoya told detectives he was making homemade gun holsters in his kitchen with Nelson when his friend, who was drinking vodka, made “rude” and “disrespectful” comments about his daughter. Montoya alleged that Nelson ultimately lunged at him as the fight escalated and tried grabbing a holstered handgun from inside Montoya's waistband.
Montoya said he drew the gun in self defense, firing four shots in the course of 12 seconds, striking Nelson in the head, stomach, and torso. He later left the house, bought cigarettes, and drove around for hours. Nelson was moaning when Montoya left, according to the arrest affidavit.
Montoya purchased cleaning supplies, bags of concrete, and a sheet of drywall from Home Depot. He later wrapped Nelson’s body in a blanket and placed it underneath the laundry room staircase, investigators said. Montoya then built a small wood frame in the crawl space, poured concrete over Nelson’s corpse, and used epoxy to “reduce the smell.” Montoya told detectives he’d planned to seal off the area with drywall. In total, Montoya told investigators he spent 16 hours building the makeshift burial chamber.
“Russell said he made the decision to keep Shane’s body in the residence and that he was going to make him a ‘tomb’ in the laundry room,” the affidavit alleged.
Montoya’s daughter, who was suspicious after seeing a newly poured “concrete slab” in the laundry room and blood stains on the basement steps, reported her father to authorities. On Nov. 14, 2019, A SWAT team swarmed the home and uncovered Nelson's body.
According to detectives, Montoya also threw away Nelson’s “bloody” cell phone, backpack, and car keys, then dumped his friend’s car at an apartment complex down the street.
The two men had been friends for 25 years, Montoya’s family told authorities.
Montoya’s public defender, David Michael Couture, didn’t immediately respond to Oxygen.com when contacted for comment on the case on Monday.
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