A former Rutgers basketball walk-on received a 22-year prison sentence on Wednesday after pleading guilty to brutally killing a 19-year-old mother and worker at the notorious Adelita’s nightclub, a spokesperson for the Baja California courts confirmed Monday.
Logan Kelley, a former basketball star at Governor Livingston High in New Jersey, was arrested in February 2021 in Tijuana after coming up behind Isis Atalia Montoya Romero, pulling out a 4-inch knife from the pocket of his sweatshirt and slicing her throat.
The crime was caught on multiple surveillance cameras located throughout the club, and Kelley was detained at the scene. Workers at the club told investigators that Kelley had no prior relationship with Montoya and had instead apparently come to the club looking to harm another woman, but had mistaken Montoya for that other worker.
The knife — a clip-point blade with some type of military seal and an image of an assault rifle etched onto the handle — was retrieved from Kelley at the scene of the crime, investigators said. Investigators initially said they believed Kelley was a U.S. service member because of the knife, but it was later confirmed that Kelley did not serve in the military.
Just before her death, Montoya was talking with another man inside the hallway of a motel adjacent to the Adelita bar, according to the video surveillance. The establishment describes itself as the “most traditional and famous men’s club in Tijuana in operation since 1962.”
Montoya had a 4-year-old son. According to details of the plea agreement, Kelley agreed to pay restitution of about 800,000 pesos — or about $40,000 — to the extended family of the child.
Kelley was initially charged with femicide, a hate crime in Mexico that carries a minimum sentence of 40 years. Prosecutors in Baja California agreed to the 22-year sentence in exchange for Kelley’s plea of guilty, rather than take the case to trial. An attorney for Kelley declined to comment, saying he’s not authorized to confirm what clients his firm represents.
In a graphic video circulated on social networks, Kelley appears to be wearing a coronavirus mask as he walks behind Montoya and puts his arm around her neck, stabs her, slices her throat, and then throws her to the floor. Kelley then runs away with a security guard chasing behind him while the victim appears to be struggling on the floor.
The website New Jersey Advanced Media reported Montoya’s father doesn’t believe justice was served.
“The judge, the prosecutor, even my daughter’s attorney all acted in favor of (Kelley) and not for her. I am very frustrated by all the corruption and the deception,” the father, José Montoya, told the news site during a phone interview from his home in Hildago, a small state in central Mexico.
“There is video of what this assassin did to my daughter. He practically decapitated her! It seems like the judge didn’t even see the video,” he added.