On September 15, the V.I. Department of Justice dismissed charges of grand larceny and possession of stolen property against Tullius Stewart, who was accused of stealing $50,000 from David Geiger’s home the week before the Estate Grunwald man was murdered in October 2005.
In August, Renell Lettsome, 22, was convicted of a number of felonies, the most serious being second-degree murder, in the fatal bludgeoning of Geiger and the severe beating of his teenage son Nathan. Lettsome was also convicted of first-degree arson for setting Geiger’s Estate Grunwald home on fire to conceal the crime.
On September 18, three days after charges against Stewart were dismissed,V.I. Superior Court Judge Brenda Hollar sentenced Lettsome to a total of 57-and-a-half consecutive years in prison. He was allowed to serve the 20 years he was sentenced to for first-degree arson concurrent with the 57-plus years.
Money Stolen While Taylor House-sat
Stewart was never accused of taking part in the October 29, 2005 murder, but prosecutors alleged he stole money from Geiger’s house while Lett-some’s girlfriend, Amber Taylor, was house-sitting.
Police initially based their investigation on Taylor’s lengthy affidavit in which she recounted the events leading up to and following Geiger’s murder. In November 2005, the V.I. Department of Justice paid for Taylor and her two children, one of whom is Lettsome’s son, to stay in a hotel room before purchasing three airplane tickets to Florida for them.
Taylor Cannot Be Located
Now, however, Taylor cannot be located by an employee of the same department that sent her to Florida in the first place, which forced the dismissal of the charges against Stewart, according to Assistant Attorney General Courtney Reese, who was supposed to prosecute the case.
“I filed the motion to dismiss based on the fact that we felt we couldn’t prove these charges beyond a reasonable doubt because our witness, who we needed to prove the charges, can’t be located,” said Reese. “I cannot comment on her whereabouts. I have no idea where she is — I don’t know anything about the woman.”
“I knew we would need her because she is the accuser and there is no other way to prove the charges without her,” Reese continued. “I had no recourse.”
The charges against Stewart were dismissed without prejudice, meaning they can be re-filed if Taylor’s whereabouts are ever discovered.
Taylor had an impact on Lettsome’s trial as well, Hollar alleged during the murder trial. Since Taylor was out of subpoena range in Florida — which everyone but Reese seemed to be aware of — the jury handed down a compromised verdict, Hollar explained during Lettsome’s sentencing hearing.
“The jury wanted to know why Amber Taylor wasn’t here and we had to disclose the fact that the government failed to prosecute her and financed her and helped her get off the island,” Hollar said during Lettsome’s sentencing. “She had to do with the compromise in their verdict. Obviously this has been a big issue in this case.”
“It is my opinion that it is only because of Amber that you weren’t sentenced to first-degree murder and I would have no choice but to give you life without parole,” Hollar told Lettsome at his sentencing hearing.
Bason Said Taylor Would Face Charges
The chief of the V.I. Department of Justice’s criminal division for St. John and St. Thomas, Ernest Bason, previously told St. John Tradewinds that Taylor would face criminal charges after she testified against Stewart.
Now, however, she will not be testifying and apparently cannot be found. Reese did not know if his office made any attempt to locate her.
“I can only assume that our office would want to make an effort to find her,” said Reese. “I don’t know how that is going to work out.”
Stewart, Taylor’s mechanic and friend, came to Geiger’s house while Taylor was house-sitting to take a shower and found a pan in a kitchen cabinet that contained five to eight envelopes each marked $5,000, according to Taylor’s affidavit.
Taylor goes on to relate a rambling account of meeting Stewart in Cruz Bay and Coral Bay, getting $50 from him in order to “get something to eat,” and eventually recovering about $8,000, according to her affidavit.
When Geiger returned to St. John and realized his money was missing, he confronted Taylor at her mother’s t-shirt store in Coral Bay while Lettsome was present, according to Taylor’s affidavit.
VIPD officials never recovered the missing money.
At a November 2005 press conference in the Leander Jurgen Command, VIPD Commissioner Elton Lewis announced that Stewart and Lettsome were connected to the Geiger case and displayed arrest warrants for the two St. John men.
At the end of November 2005, Stewart voluntarily returned to the territory from California and was taken into custody. After his arrest, Judge Leon Kendall dropped his bail and released Stewart on his own recognizance.
Stewart is the third person related to the Geiger case against whom charges have been dismissed.
Charges Against Ferguson, Colaire Dropped
Robert Ferguson and Nestor Colaire were previously charged with helping Lettsome torch Geiger’s house to conceal the crime.
Prosecutors dropped the charges of attempted murder, arson and being accessories after the fact against the two men the same day Lettsome was convicted.
“We don’t have enough evidence to convict them,” Bason said at the time about Colaire and Ferguson.