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Man gets life sentences for killing two Tennessee postal workers

By Tim Ghianni

NASHVILLE Tenn. (Reuters) - A former Tennessee corrections officer was sentenced on Tuesday to consecutive life terms for killing two postal workers during a months-long crime spree in which he teamed up with his son for a series of armed robberies and car thefts around the state.

Chastain Montgomery Sr., 50, confessed after his capture and pleaded guilty in May, avoiding a possible death sentence, said Terri Wiseman, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Edward Stanton.

Montgomery, who lived in a Nashville suburb, and his son, Chastain Montgomery Jr., killed Paula Robinson and Judy Spry during a robbery at a Henning, Tennessee, post office in October 2010 at the start of the spree, prosecutors said.

They returned to the Nashville area, stealing a pickup in Smyrna, and robbed a credit union at gunpoint in nearby Lavergne, prosecutors said. They later stole a minivan that they used as a getaway vehicle in a bank robbery in Smyrna.

The spree came to an end in February 2011 after the younger Montgomery stole a man's pickup at gunpoint, but was caught in a high-speed chase by Haywood County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Mike Smothers and other officers.

He exited the vehicle in Mason, Tennessee, and was shot dead during an exchange of gunfire with Smothers. His father was captured when he crossed the crime-scene tape and approached the pickup his son had driven.

The sentence "once again shows the determination of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to bring criminals to justice who take the lives of postal employees," Stanton said in a statement.

Montgomery was sentenced on Tuesday by Senior U.S. District Judge Jon Phipps McCalla.

(Reporting by Tim Ghianni; Editing by David Bailey and Mohammad argham)

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