Sons Ordered to Face Trial in Mom’s Death
A 16-year-old and his older half brother were ordered Friday to stand trial for the murder of their mother, whose headless, handless body was found in a ravine off the Ortega Highway near San Juan Capistrano in January.
During a one-day preliminary hearing, an Orange County sheriff’s investigator testified at length about an interview with Matthew Montejo, during which he said the youth told him that his half brother, Jason Bautista, was to blame.
The youth said he was unaware his mother was dead until Bautista told him that he had killed her, testified Investigator Andre Spencer.
Coaxed by his half brother, Spencer said, the two set off to dispose of the body.
The half brothers, who portrayed their mother as a cruel woman who had belittled and humiliated them for years, are each being held on $1 million bail.
At the time of their arrests, investigators claimed the half brothers got the idea to dismember their mother after watching an episode of “The Sopranos,” an HBO drama about a dysfunctional New Jersey mob family.
Orange County Superior Court Judge John Conley ordered the half brothers to stand trial on June 17. They have pleaded not guilty to murder charges.
Montejo and Bautista, 20, sat next to each other during the hearing, their hands chained to their chairs. They leaned together, smiling and talking about the Lakers, music and their time in jail.
Relatives and friends gathered three row behind them.
Montejo allegedly told police he left the family’s home in Riverside during a heated argument Jan. 14 between his half brother and his mother, Jane Bautista, 41.
“I didn’t know what he was going to do,” Spencer said Montejo told him. “I thought he was going to slap her around.”
When the younger son returned home a short time later, Bautista allegedly told him to go inside his room, where he watched television until he was told to come out.
Spencer testified that Montejo told him he didn’t want to leave the house, but Bautista insisted he needed help to get rid of their mother’s body.
Bautista later told Montejo he “grabbed her and suffocated her in the living room where there were bloodstains,” according to testimony. “I didn’t want to get the details. That’s all I needed to know.”
A coroner’s official testified that Jane Bautista died of strangulation.
Police said the half brothers drove to a construction site in Oceanside at 1 a.m. Jan. 15 to dump the body, wrapped in a sleeping bag, but a security guard chased them away. According to investigators, the half brothers hurriedly pushed the wrapped body back in their car but the guard said he spotted a foot hanging out of the bag and jotted down their license plate.
Police said the half brothers continued to drive and listen to music before Bautista pulled to the shoulder of Ortega Highway, dragged his mother’s body from the trunk and rolled it over a cliff. Montejo allegedly remained in the car. The body was discovered by a passing motorist later that day.
Montejo said he didn’t know that the body parts were hidden inside the home until he opened a hall closet and saw a bag, the investigator testified.
“It bothered me that the head and hands were still in the apartment, but I tried not to focus on it,” the investigator said the teen told him. He said he was afraid of his half brother and did not want to say anything, Spencer said.
Spencer testified that when investigators asked Montejo if his mother deserved to die, he said, “I don’t know if she deserved that, but she deserved something.”
Deputy District Attorney Michael Murray said the half brothers had planned the murder for a while and were telling friends that their mother was moving to Chicago as part of their effort to cover up the crime. He said the half brothers talked about killing their mother a year earlier after she got into an argument with them.
“She was just going off that day and we said one day, we’re going to get her. We said my mom has got to die,” Spencer said Montejo told him. He said Montejo added that they were just joking.
Police said after disposing of the body, the half brothers resumed a normal lifestyle. Montejo searched for a tuxedo for his high school winter formal, drove his girlfriend around in his mother’s car and the half brothers hosted a Super Bowl party. But when a friend asked to use the bathroom during the party, Bautista reportedly cut him off. “It was too nasty in there,” Montejo allegedly said.