CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire man accused of killing his 5-year-old daughter said he hated the girl “right to his core” because she reminded him of her mother, a friend of his testified Tuesday.

Rebecca Maines, who is in prison for a parole violation, testified that Adam Montgomery told her in the summer of 2021 that he had been trying to see his daughter, Harmony Montgomery, since 2019, when he dropped her off to be with her mother because he said she was having bathroom accidents “on purpose.”

Even though Adam Montgomery had been granted legal custody of the girl months before she vanished, Maines testified that he told her that Harmony’s mother wouldn’t allow him to visit her.

Authorities believe Montgomery killed the girl on Dec. 7, 2019, but she wasn’t reported missing until nearly two years later. Harmony’s body has not been found.

Adam Montgomery pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in 2022 and proclaimed in court last year in an unrelated case that he did not kill his daughter and loved her unconditionally. As his trial got underway in Manchester on Feb. 7, defense attorneys acknowledged he is guilty of two lesser charges he faces: falsifying evidence and abusing a corpse. But they said he did not kill Harmony, and instead suggested she actually died on Dec. 6 while alone with her stepmother, Kayla Montgomery, who is Adam’s estranged wife.

Adam Montgomery, who is serving a 30-year prison sentence for an unrelated gun conviction, hasn’t been attending his trial. Prosecutors rested Tuesday and the defense is scheduled to present its case on Wednesday.

Maines, who described Montgomery at one point as her best friend, also testified about an incident that happened before he said he took Harmony to her mother. She said he told her he “backhanded” his daughter after seeing her put her hand over her younger brother’s lips and nose. In earlier testimony, Adam Montgomery’s uncle testified that he saw Harmony with a black eye at the family home in 2019 and that Adam told him he “bashed” her around the house after seeing her put her hands on her brother.

During cross-examination, Maines was asked about her criminal record from 2014 to 2019, which includes theft and fraud convictions. She is scheduled for a parole hearing in April, but also faces several pending charges.

“I am a criminal. I don’t have a problem telling you that,” Maines testified. She also said she was in treatment for substance abuse when asked about missing a court appearance for her cases.

Defense attorneys also suggested that Maines was trying to better her legal situation by testifying. She denied making or asking for any promises about her pending charges in exchange for her testimony.

Adam Montgomery and Crystal Sorey, Harmony’s mother, were not in a relationship when Harmony was born in 2014. The child lived on and off with foster families and her mother. Crystal Sorey lost custody of Harmony in 2018, and Adam Montgomery was awarded custody in February 2019. Sorey testified that she last saw her daughter during a FaceTime call around Easter of that year.

Kayla Montgomery has been the star witness against her estranged husband. She is serving an 18-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to perjury for lying during grand jury testimony about where she was when Harmony was last seen. She was not given immunity, but she acknowledged to defense lawyers that she hasn’t faced further consequences for inconsistencies in her various statements to police or prosecutors.

Kayla Montgomery testified that her husband repeatedly punched Harmony in the head because the girl had wet herself. She said her family, including the couple’s two young sons, had been evicted and were living in a car at the time. According to Kayla, Adam punched Harmony at several stop lights as they drove from a methadone clinic to a fast food restaurant on the morning of Dec. 7, 2019.

She also testified about handing food to the children without checking on Harmony, the subsequent discovery that the girl was dead, and all the places she said her husband hid the body, including in a ceiling vent at a homeless shelter and the walk-in freezer at her husband’s workplace. Kayla Montgomery testified that she didn’t come forward about Harmony’s death because she was afraid of her husband.

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