Robert Ferguson pleaded not guilty on Thursday, Dec. 15, to five felonies connected to the Oct. 29 bludgeoning murder of David Geiger and the brutal beating of his teenaged son, Nathan. The suspect, the third man involved in the case to plead not guilty, also requested a trial by jury. On Monday, Dec. 12, members of the V.I. Police Departments major crime unit arrested the fourth man wanted in connection with the murder.
Nester Colaire, 18, turned himself in to police at the Alexander Farrelly Criminal Justice Complex on St. Thomas after he returned to the territory from Florida. His arraignment hearing is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 22.
The Estate Bethany resident, who is also known as Papa, is charged with attempted first-degree murder, arson and accessory after the fact, according to VIPD spokesperson Sgt. Thomas Hannah.
An arrest warrant for Colaire was issued on Nov. 17, along with warrants for Renell Lettsome, 21, Ferguson, who is Lettsomes 19-year-old half brother, and Tullius Stewart, 29.
Long List of Charges
Lettsome is charged with 12 felony crimes, including first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, arson and using a dangerous weapon in the commission of a crime of violence.
Ferguson is charged with two counts of first-degree attempted murder, accessory after the fact, arson and using a dangerous weapon. Stewart is charged with grand larceny and possession of stolen property, but officials said that he was not involved in the deadly attack.
Longtime St. John resident Geiger, 43, was bludgeoned to death in his Estate Grunwald home in the early morning hours of Saturday, Oct. 29. Geigers 14-year-old son, Nathan, was severely beaten in the attack.
After the murder, Lettsome returned to Geigers home with Colaire and Ferguson, removed the murder weapon and set the house on fire to cover up the crime, leaving the unconscious Nathan inside, according to police.
Healing on Mainland
Nathan was rescued from the fire by neighbors. He is staying with family members on the U.S. mainland as he continues healing from severe injuries.
Stewart was the first person arrested in connection to the murder, after he returned to the territory from Sacramento, Calif., on Nov. 24. His bail was originally set at $100,000.
At Stewarts advice of rights hearing on Nov. 25, Superior Court Judge Leon Kendall dropped the bail and released the suspect on his own recognizance. Stewart pleaded not guilty to the charges of grand larceny and possession of stolen property at his arraignment on Dec. 1.
The murder suspect, Lettsome, was the second man to be arrested in the case. The Estate Lower Carolina resident turned himself in to British Virgin Islands police officials on Nov. 27.
Lettsome was extradited to the U.S.V.I. on Nov. 30 and, unable to post his $1 million bail, was remanded to the corrections facility on St. Thomas.
Lettsome pleaded not guilty to all 12 felonies and requested a jury trial before Superior Court Judge Rhys Hodge on Dec. 8.
Ferguson was arrested on Dec. 8 after he returned to the territory from Florida. At his advice of rights hearing on Dec. 9, Superior Court Judge Brenda Hollar reduced Fergusons bail to $75,000 from $500,000.
At Colaires advice of rights hearing on Dec. 13, Superior Court Judge Audrey Thomas reduced his bail to $75,000 from $500,000.
An Arresting Statement
Judges found probable cause to uphold the charges against all four men, whose arrests were largely based on the affidavit of Lettsomes girlfriend, Amber Taylor, according to Ernest Bason, chief of the V.I. Criminal Divsion.
The arrests were based on Ambers statements, but for the case, we have fingerprints and other evidence, he said.
Lettsome also made a statement about the attack and arson to law enforcement officials after his arrest, added Bason, who will be prosecuting the cases against all four suspects.
Colaire and Ferguson helped LettsomeLettsome has a very good statement, said Bason, who would not elaborate on his comment.
Colaire and Ferguson had enrolled in the U.S. Department of Labors Miami Job Corps Center before Oct. 29, and flew to Florida days after Geigers murder, according to public defender Jesse Bethel, who represented Ferguson at his advice of rights hearing.
They had both made reservations to go to the states before this happened, said Bethel. They werent running to the states and they werent fleeing the jurisdiction.
The public defender requested that law enforcement officials investigate Colaire and Fergusons Job Corps status.
I asked Cpl. Delbert Phipps to investigate to verify whether they were enrolled in the Job Corps because it may become an issue at a later time, Bethel said.
No Trial Date Set
The Criminal Division chief had no idea when the cases will go to trial.
It depends on the court schedule and the attorneys schedules, said Bason. I dont have a ballpark figure because it depends on the judge, and each case is different.
VIPD officials are still investigating the case, according to Hannah.
Although the four arrests have been made, the case is not closedwe are still investigating this matter, Hannah said. We are putting the puzzle together and continue our investigation.
Anyone with information regarding this case can call the VIPD Major Crime Unit at 715-5534 or 715-5546.