Crime

Justin Rey, who put wife’s dismembered body in Lenexa cooler, removed during sentencing

A man who was convicted of child endangerment after he and his children were found in a Lenexa storage unit alongside a cooler that contained his wife’s dismembered body in 2017 was removed from court Friday during his sentencing.

Justin Todd Rey, 37, was sentenced to just under nine years in prison for two charges of child endangerment, two charges of contributing to a child’s misconduct and three charges of sexual exploitation of a child for possession of child pornography.

While Johnson County District Court Judge Brenda Cameron read the sentence, Rey began to shout.

“You all believe you’re gonna get away with it?” he yelled to the courtroom.

Throughout his court proceedings, Rey has asserted his innocence. He has filed motions for mistrial, for a new judge and has changed lawyers and represented himself.

When Cameron told Rey he would be removed from court if he continued to interrupt her, Rey shouted, “Then shoot me.”

“They don’t give a (expletive) about me or my children. All because I dismembered a body,” Rey yelled as he was escorted from the courtroom by Johnson County Sheriff’s deputies.

He was placed in a witness room to watch the remainder of his sentencing by video.

During the trial, Rey said that his wife, Jessica Montiero, killed herself after giving birth in a hotel bathroom near the Truman Sports Complex along Interstate 70 in October 2017.

Wanting to keep his family together, Rey said he didn’t call police or medical attention and instead spent eight hours chopping Montiero’s body into pieces so he could transport it to her hometown in Arizona.

“It’s something I had to do,” Rey testified in Johnson County District Court. “My family is very dear to me. It’s something I had to do to protect my family.”

When Rey was found in the Lenexa storage unit the day after he left the hotel, his 2-year-old daughter “looked almost like she had cancer,” police said. Officers also found child pornography on his phone.

Prior to the sentencing, Rey’s former lawyer, Scott Toth, testified regarding Rey’s motion for ineffective counsel, which was ultimately denied.

Rey argued that Toth, who has more than 30 years of experience in criminal law, failed to effectively represent him when he didn’t allow Rey to wear a suit and tie for his trial and did not subpoena character witnesses.

Toth testified that Rey had indicated he wanted to wear the clothing he was arrested in for the trial.

He said he had refrained from subpoenaing the witnesses because character testimony is inadmissible in Kansas court and he worried those witnesses would make the trial harder for Rey by bringing up his other four children who were taken away from him.

Toth said he had done his best in a case with “very trying facts.”

Rey also is charged in the murder of a California man who police believe disappeared while the two were camping together.

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Katie Bernard covers Kansas crime, cops and courts for the Kansas City Star. She joined the Star in May of 2019. Katie studied journalism and political science at the University of Kansas.
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