Man who killed Duluth police officer in 1990 dies in prison hospice unitOn April 9, 1990, Lawrence Jame Montanaro fired 15 shots from inside a room in the Seaway Hotel, killing Duluth police Sgt. Gary Wilson.
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
The man convicted of shooting and killing Duluth police Sgt. Gary Wilson in 1990 died at 1:03 a.m. today in a hospice unit at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Oak Park Heights.
Lawrence James Montanaro, 69, died of apparent natural causes, but the Ramsey County Medical Examiner will officially determine the cause of death and the corrections department will conduct its own investigation, said John Schadl, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Corrections.
On April 9, 1990, Montanaro fired 15 shots in three separate bursts at police officers from inside a room in the Seaway Hotel, where he lived. Wilson was hit twice and died. Sgt. John Hartley was seriously wounded by a bullet that went through his arm and into his chest.
Earlier that evening, Montanaro shot Mark Chumich after the two had been drinking at a Lincoln Park bar. Chumich was seriously wounded but survived. Montanaro was convicted in St. Louis County District Court in Hibbing of first-degree murder and attempted murder. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Montanaro went to prison on April 25, 1991, and, under the law at that time, would have been eligible for parole after serving 30 years. A new law went into effect on Aug. 1, 1993, in which anyone who murders a police officer is sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole.
According to Department of Corrections records, Montanaro was disciplined in April of this year. He was sentenced to 120 days in a segregation unit for an assault on a staff member.
The Minnesota Supreme Court in September rejected Montanaro’s request to have his conviction vacated or to be given a new trial. He claimed he was entitled to a new trial because the District Court judge erred in jury instructions and the prosecutor committed misconduct during closing arguments.
But in its opinion, the state’s high court wrote: “Because neither the trial court’s jury instruction on self-defense nor the statements by the prosecutor that Montanaro contends constituted prosecutorial misconduct affected Montanaro’s substantial rights, we affirm Montanaro’s convictions in all respects.”