Wrapping up the most brutal crime case on Love City in history, 21-year-old Renell Lettsome was sentenced to 57-and-one-half years in prison for the October 2005 murder of David Geiger and severe beating of his teenage son Nathan.
After a three-day jury trial, Lettsome was convicted on August 12 of second-degree murder, attempted second-de-gree murder, third-degree as-sault, first-degree arson and accompanying weapons charges for each crime.
The jury found the defendant not guilty of the most serious charges of first-degree murder, first degree-attempted murder and first-degree assault.
Lettsome bludgeoned 43-year-old Geiger to death during the early morning hours of October 29, 2005, and severely beat 14-year-old Nathan before setting their Estate Grunwald home on fire to conceal the crime, according to prosecutors.
Hollar imposed the stiffest sentence possible for attempted murder in the second degree, two and a half years. She added another 15 years and another $10,000 for the accompanying weapons charge.
The third-degree assault and accompanying weapons charge were merged with the second-degree attempted murder charge.
Lettsome will serve those 17 and a half years concurrent with the 57 and a half years for second degree murder. He will also owe monetary retribution to Nathan’s mother, Lisa Geiger, to cover his medical expenses.
“This is diabolical, I can’t understand it,” Hollar said about the grisly murder.
Young Nathan, with his trademark blond hair cut short, gave compelling testimony during the trial, Hollar said.
“He was brave and specific,” the judge said before handing down her sentence. “He wants to come home and he can’t. He said he loves the food here and that rang a big bell with me.”
“This is his home – he’s a born-here person,” Hollar added.
“This court had the opportunity to see photographs that I couldn’t let the jury see because they were so gruesome,” Hollar said. “I have never seen such gory pictures in my life. It is by the grace of God that Mr. Lettsome is not here today facing judgement for two murders – of a father and a son.”
Lettsome, who entered the courtroom wearing a broad smile, took the microphone and – for the first time throughout the trial – addressed the court.
“I’m sorry for St. John and for what I hear is happening there now,” Lettsome said in a barely audible voice. “I’m sorry for the family that has to suffer for this crime. I’m sorry for David’s sister.”
“I wish I could talk,” Lettsome added.
Before the sentence was handed down, Lettsome’s mother, Jessie Cheetam and two of her friends, Lisa Nicewander and Shira Sofer, took the stand asking for leniency for the defendant. All three painted pictures of Lettsome as a kind and loving father.
“Renell Lettsome made some bad choices,” the attorney said. “He can’t undo what he did, but he must live with the consequences of his actions. He made a mistake and he deserves a second chance.”
“He believes he can be rehabilitated,” Williams added.
On the prosecution’s side, Lisa Geiger took the stand and explained, through tears, how David’s family and numerous friends were affected by Lett-some’s heinous crime.
“We all struggle daily to understand and accept David’s fate,” she said. “No one’s life has been more altered than my innocent Nathan’s. He lost the most important person in his world – his daddy.”
“Renell Lettsome, you have a lot of bad karma coming your way,” Lisa Geiger added. “I hope the gruesome images of David and Nathan stay with you forever.”
David’s sister Gail Geiger took the stand next and expressed her frustration with not finding out the truth about what happened to her brother.
“I had to go into that house of horrors, where there was blood all over the house, and had to scrape my brother’s melted flesh and hair off the walls in his bedroom,” Gail Geiger said. “He wasn’t just shot – he was beaten, again and again, until he was a mess of pulp. Why did you have to kill him when you already had the money?”
The fact that Lettsome was not convicted of first-degree murder means that first-degree murder doesn’t exist, she added.
The jury handed down a compromised verdict because Lett-some’s girlfriend, Amber Taylor, was out of subpoena range and was not able to testify, according to Hollar.
“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.
Prosecutors initially based their investigation on Taylor’s lengthy affidavit in which she said Lettsome told her he killed David and thought he had killed Nathan Geiger.
The government paid for a hotel room for Taylor and her two children as well as a plane ticket to Florida. The V.I. only has subpoena power up to 90 miles away from the territory, putting Taylor out of range to be called as a witness in the trial.
Lettsome seemed unaffected by the sentence, sitting with his head down and drawing a circle with his finger during the hearing. Lettsome smiled and waved to family members as he was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
Williams said the defense plans to appeal the sentence.