Murder suspect Renell Lettsome did not accept the governments plea deal and the case is now headed to trial starting on Monday, August 7, at 9 a.m., according to Ernest Bason, Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the Criminal Division for St. Thomas and St. John.
Bason, who is prosecuting the case, would not share the details of the plea deal, saying only that it involved a lengthy jail sentence and was not accepted. The trial will be before V.I. Superior Court Judge Brenda Hollar.
12 Felony Counts
Lettsome is accused of bludgeoning St. John businessman David Geiger to death and severely beating Geigers teenage son Nathan, during the early morning hours of October 29, 2005.
Lettsome faces 12 criminal felony counts with penalties ranging from life in prison without parole for first degree murder to a minimum of five years for second degree murder. He remains in the St. Thomas correctional facility pending a $1 million bail.
The prosecution alleges that after the murder, Lettsome returned to Geigers house with Robert Ferguson and Nestor Colaire, when the three set the home on fire to conceal the crime, leaving the unconscious Nathan inside.
Colaire, who was sent back to prison after breaking the rules of his release, also remains in the correctional facility on St. Thomas. Ferguson was released on an unsecured bond. Their trials were joined and will be scheduled after the conclusion of Lettsomes case. Bason will prosecute their cases as well.
Forensic Evidence Arrives
Lettsomes case was originally set to begin in July, but the prosecution received a delay because forensic evidence had not arrived from the Federal Bureau of Investigation laboratory, Bason explained.
The forensic evidence has now arrived in the territory and the prosecution is set for trial, Bason added.
The forensics have come in and now we have DNA and all that stuff, he said. Were heading to trial and we are ready.
The prosecution has a number of witnesses, but Bason would not comment on whether Geigers son, who was severely beaten in the attack, will take the stand.
We have almost 30 witnesses, Bason said. I will not say if Nathan will testify right now.
The prosecutor did confirm that Lettsomes girlfriend at the time of the murder, Amber Taylor, who is the mother of his young son, would testify in the trial.
Taylor Will Testify
Taylor house sat for Geiger a week before he was murdered, according to her lengthy affidavit, which recounts the events leading up to and immediately following the murder.
A large amount of cash was stolen from Geigers Estate Grunwald residence while Taylor was house sitting, which she said was taken by her then-mechanic and friend Tullius Stewart, according to her affidavit.
Stewart, who pled not guilty to grand larceny and possession of stolen property, was arrested after he returned to the territory from California and was quickly released on his own recognizance.
Coral Bay Confrontation
After Geiger returned from the mainland, he allegedly confronted Taylor about the missing money at her mothers painted t-shirt store in Coral Bay and Lettsome was present at the time, Taylor said in her affidavit.
The affidavit goes on to recount how Taylor and Lettsome, along with their son and Taylors son with a different father, traveled to St. Thomas and checked into a hotel the day before the murder, on October 28, 2005.
Lettsome traveled back to St. John that afternoon alone and returned to the St. Thomas hotel the next morning, wearing different clothes and with a large cut on his hand, Taylor said in her affidavit.
When he returned to the hotel, Lettsome confessed to killing Geiger, beating Nathan, and setting fire to their house with Ferguson and Colaire, according to Taylors affidavit.
No Deal with Taylor
The prosecution did not make a deal with Taylor, leaving open the possibility that she will face charges in the future, according to Bason.
In addition to Taylors affidavit, the prosecution won a suppression case in March which allows statements Lettsome made to police officers to be used in court. Lettsome made six statements in total, to both U.S.V.I. Police Department officials and British Virgin Islands Police Department officials, in which he admits his guilt, Bason said.
Lettsomes attorney, Pedro Williams, a private lawyer who was assigned to his case by the V.I. Superior Court, refused to comment on the upcoming trial. We have nothing to say, he said.
Jury selection for Lettsomes trial was on Friday, August 4, and the trial is set to begin on Monday, August 7, at 9 a.m.