Despite his own confession, accused murderer Renell Lettsome has decided a jury trial could result in a shorter sentence than the 30-plus years offered by the V.I. Attorney General in a plea deal to avoid trial.
Lettsome, 21, will be tried in June for the October 2005 murder of St. John business owner David Geiger and attempted murder of Geigers son Nathan, 15, after turning down a plea deal of a substantial jail term offered by the government.
Hes not going to accept it, V.I. Assistant Attorney General Ernest Bason said of the response by Lettsomes attorney, Pedro Williams, to the offer to avoid a trial. He didnt want to do the time, I guess.
Lettsome faces 12 criminal felony charges with penalties ranging from life in prison without parole for first degree murder to a minimum of five years in prison on second degree murder.
Lengthy Jail Term Offered
While Bason would not reveal the details of the plea bargain turned down by Lettsome, the chief of the Criminal Division of the Attorney Generals Office did confirm the deal still called for a lengthy jail term.
It was over 30 years, said Bason.
He would take five years, added Bason of the minimum sentence Lettsome faces. He probably would have taken 10 years.
Lettsome is accused of bludgeoning to death Geiger, severely beating his son Nathan and setting Geigers Estate Grunwald home on fire with the help of two other men in an effort to conceal the crime during the early morning hours of October, 29, 2005.
Its going to be a hard case, even though he confessed, Bason said.
Lettsome, who was returned to the territory from Tortola several weeks after Geigers murder, gave authorities a statement on the crime.
Lettsomes girlfriend and the mother of one of his children, Amber Taylor, also gave a statement to authorities about the crime before being relocated from St. John.
We already won on that, Bason said of a defense challenge to Lettsomes statement.
The two men charged with helping Lettsome set fire to Geigers house after the attack, Robert Ferguson and Nester Colaire, face charges of attempted murder, arson and being an accessory to a crime after the fact.
Two Charged as Accessories
Ferguson and Colaire, both St. John residents, have been released from custody on unsecured bonds. The men are accused of returning to Geigers home with Lettsome after his solo attack on the Geigers and setting the structure on fire to conceal the crime with the unconscious Nathan still inside.
Neighbors attempting to extinguish the fire found the younger Geiger inside seriously wounded and dragged him to safety.
David Geigers severely burned body was found in his bed and a medical examination determined he had died of head injuries before the fire.
The younger Geiger is recuperating from severe head injuries in the states.
Ferguson and Colaire will face a separate trial, according to the assistant attorney general.
They have to find another judge and they have to be tried at a different time before a different jury pool, explained Bason.
Stewart Charged with Theft
A fourth man, Tullius Stewart, is accused of stealing a large amount of money reportedly as much as $50,000 from Geigers home about a week before the murder when Lettsomes girlfriend was house-sitting for Geiger.
In her statement to V.I. Police Department investigators, Taylor said Lettsome went to Geigers home after the painting company owner had complained to Taylor about the theft of money from the home.
Jury selection in the Lettsome trial is set for Friday, June 9, according to Bason.
Lettsomes trial is scheduled to begin June Monday, June 12, before V.I. Superior Court Judge Brenda Hollar, added Bason.