MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire man charged with killing his 5-year-old daughter and spending months moving her body before disposing of it has declined to attend the start of his trial Wednesday.

A jury of 12 people and five alternates was seated for the trial of Adam Montgomery, 34, in Manchester. His daughter, Harmony Montgomery, disappeared in 2019, but police didn’t know she was missing until two years later. Police later determined she had been killed. Her body has not been found.

Judge Amy Messer told the pool of prospective jurors Wednesday morning that Adam Montgomery had a right to appear at his trial, but he also had a right not to.

“You are not to speculate on why he is not here today” nor draw any inferences, she said.

Adam Montgomery pleaded not guilty in 2022 to charges of second-degree murder, abuse of a corpse, falsifying physical evidence, assault and witness tampering. The trial is expected to last about three weeks. He’s been incarcerated since 2022.

Jury selection began Tuesday. Lawyers were expected to deliver opening statements Wednesday afternoon and the jury may visit several sites that played a role in the case.

“I did not kill my daughter Harmony and I look forward to my upcoming trial to refute those offensive claims,” Montgomery, 34, said in court last August before he was sentenced on unrelated gun charges.

He acknowledged he was an addict: “I could have had a meaningful life, but I blew that opportunity through drugs. I loved my daughter unconditionally and I did not kill her.”

The case of Harmony Montgomery, who was born in Massachusetts to unmarried parents with a history of substance abuse, exposed weaknesses in child protection systems and provoked calls to prioritize the well-being of children over parents in custody matters. Harmony was moved between the homes of her mother and her foster parents multiple times before Adam Montgomery received custody in 2019 and moved to New Hampshire.

A key prosecution witness is expected to be Adam’s estranged wife, Kayla Montgomery, who is serving an 18-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to perjury charges. She agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

According to an affidavit, Kayla Montgomery told police that her husband killed Harmony on Dec. 7, 2019, while the family lived in their car. Kayla, who was Harmony’s stepmother, said Adam was driving to a fast food restaurant when he turned around and repeatedly punched Harmony in the face and head because he was angry that she was having bathroom accidents in the car.

“I think I really hurt her this time. I think I did something,” he said, according to Kayla.

The couple noticed Harmony was dead hours later when the car broke down, at which time Adam put her body in a duffel bag, Kayla said.

For the next three months, investigators allege, Adam moved the body from container to container and place to place. According to his wife, the locations included the trunk of a friend’s car, a cooler in the hallway of his mother-in-law’s apartment building, the ceiling vent of a homeless shelter and an apartment freezer.

At one point, the remains were kept in a tote bag from a hospital maternity ward, and Kayla said she placed it in between her own young children in a stroller and brought it to her husband’s workplace.

Investigators allege that Adam Montgomery disposed of the body in March 2020 using a rented moving truck. Toll data shows the truck in question crossed the Tobin Bridge in Boston multiple times, but the affidavit has no other location information to indicate the location of Harmony’s body. Last year, police searched a marshy area in Revere, Massachusetts.

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