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Tow truck owner Donald Montanez on suicide watch after 35-year sentence

12:20 AM, Jun 30, 2012   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida - Former tow truck company owner Donald Montanez fought back tears on his day of sentencing.

For most of the day, he kept his head lowered and cried often as he listened to the family members of the man he shot back in 2006 at the Sugar Shack bottle club on Hillsborough Avenue.

The victim impact statements were filled with emotion and grief as relatives of Glen Rich talked about how much they missed him and how this tragedy has changed their lives.

The victim's wife, Adama Scott, made powerful statements as she choked back tears and addressed the judge.

"My husband wasn't given a choice of 25 to life. He was given a death sentence that night.  He wasn't asked whether he wanted to live. He just died," she said, wiping her eyes.

Glen Rich was a patron that night at the bottle club and when his car was towed, he tried to get it back. That's when the two men got into a deadly fight.

Montanez was carrying a gun when he towed Rich's car and shot him in the parking lot.

Rich's widow cried as she described the last conversation with her husband. 

"The morning that I got the phone call from him, I could hear him laboring to breathe, I could hear tears and fear in his voice. I remember him saying he loved me and he was sorry he was going to die," she said.

James Murray was a close friend of Rich's and remembers the night well.  He says he has survivor's guilt and has tried to commit suicide over the tragic incident.

"I will never forget about this.  Ever. And, I just have a lot of hatred in my heart that I have to get out. I don't think God will forgive me with the hate that I have in my heart," Murray said.

This high profile case took a surprise turn this week when documents were found, showing that Donald Montanez wasn't who he claimed to be.

Defense attorney Jay Hebert said, "His position was he had a past, wasn't proud of his past.  His father's name was Montanez so when he came down here, he relocated and became Don Montanez."

His real name is Donald Rivera, and according to documents, he has a long criminal history, including prison time for burglary. 

Records reveal that he used four different ID's and six social security numbers over the years, lying continuously about his name and his past.

Even his defense attorney had no idea.  

"I don't think it's as bad as it appears on paper.  He was ashamed of his past. And he was trying to start fresh without misdemeanors following him around," said Hebert.

The gun he used to kill Glen Rich, was purchased, sources say, with a fake ID.

The judge gave heavy consideration to these factors and sentenced Montanez to 35 years in prison, and when released, Montanez will be 85 years old.

Defense attorneys have already started working on his appeal. 

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