Man pleads guilty in Morenci Mine mechanic Matthew Misener murder, will be sentenced to more than 33 years in prison

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Eduardo Montano Jr., 36, will be sentenced to 33.75 years in prison for the murder of Matthew Misener.

By Jon Johnson

CLIFTON – A man who said he conspired with the ex-wife of murdered Morenci miner Matthew Gerald Misener, 35, of Safford, pleaded guilty to an amended count of murder in the second degree and aggravated assault on Wednesday.

Contributed Photo: Matthew Misener, 35, of Safford, was killed in a shooting incident in Clifton in February.

Eduardo Montano Jr., 36, of Tucson, was initially charged with murder in the first degree after Misener was gunned down as he was on his way to work at the Morenci mine on an early Monday morning in February.

According to a plea agreement, Montano will be sentenced to the maximum sentence of 25 years on the murder charge and a consecutive sentence of an aggravated term of 8.75 years for a charge of aggravated assault for a total of 33.75 years in prison. The terms are stipulated in the plea agreement and will be carried out at sentencing.

Montano accepted his guilt and signed the plea agreement in the Graham County Superior Court on Wednesday afternoon with Graham County Superior Court Judge Michael D. Peterson presiding. Judge Peterson also served as the settlement conference judge in the matter, which led to the plea agreement. Montano was represented by attorney Daisy Flores.   

Misener was driving a black, Chevrolet Tahoe on U.S. Highway 191 and was shot as he began to enter the “Horseshoe Curve” between Clifton and Morenci. The incident took place just before 5 a.m., and the Clifton Fire Chief called it in after noticing the bullet-ridden vehicle. Other citizen responders in the area also stopped to help and then noticed the vehicle had been shot.

The investigation into the shooting led to Montano, who was arrested in Tucson and brought back to Greenlee County, where he was held on a $1 million bond.

According to the factual basis of Montano’s plea agreement, he admitted to conspiring with Misener’s ex-wife, Georgina Misener, to injure Matthew so he would miss attending a court hearing regarding the custody of his children. Montano admitted that he ambushed Matthew and fired multiple shots from a 9 mm Ruger handgun, which killed the victim.

Georgina, 34, of Tucson, has maintained her innocence and is still being adjudicated on charges of murder in the first degree and conspiracy.

Montano is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Peterson on Monday, Sept. 28, at 1:30 p.m.