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Murder Suspect Says He Was With Family at Time of Crime

Courts: Richard Geise denies slaying a Ventura market clerk last April. He says two men, now dead, told him they were responsible for the fatal robbery attempt.

April 18, 2002|HOLLY J. WOLCOTT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Murder defendant Richard Geise took the stand Wednesday, contending that he was with his family at the time that police say he was involved in a deadly robbery attempt at a Ventura market.

Geise, a 32-year-old former Ojai resident, also told jurors that two men he believes are responsible for the April 2001 killing confessed to him a few hours after the crime at a Ventura motel.

Geise said one of those men was his cousin, Alfonso Delgado Jr.

"He said they went there to rob the Central Market," the defendant testified. "He said they wouldn't open the safe and one of the gentlemen reached for a gun and he started shooting. They both started shooting."

Geise is charged with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and several other charges stemming from the shooting at the family owned market on Ventura Avenue.

About 1 p.m. on April 6, 2001, two men wearing gas masks rushed into the store and demanded that clerks give them money, police said. Before the clerks had a chance to comply, police said, the men opened fire, killing clerk Primitivo Alejandro Alvarez, 35, and wounding two other employees.

Defense attorney Willard Wiksell has argued since the start of the trial last week that although his client is an admitted drug dealer and thief, he was not at the small market that day.

"You've committed a laundry list of crimes [in the past]," Wiksell said while questioning Geise. "Did you kill anybody?"

Geise said he never had.

Wiksell contends Delgado teamed up with his friend, Sam Patterson, for the robbery. Delgado was killed a month after the attempted heist during a shootout with police, and Patterson died of a drug overdose months after that.

During two hours of questioning, Wiksell had Geise reconstruct the time before and after the killing, starting with waking up about 11 a.m. the day of the shooting, and ending with his arrest on drug charges a day later.

Geise testified that between 12:30 and 12:45 p.m., he left a Seaward Avenue motel where he was staying with his girlfriend to meet his wife and infant son in the parking lot of a Chinese restaurant a few blocks away.

Outside the restaurant, Geise said, he and his wife talked about their pending divorce and child custody issues as they played with their son, who was just starting to walk.

Geise said he was with his family for 30 to 40 minutes before returning to the motel. The scenario places Geise more than two miles from the crime scene at the time the clerk was shot.

Shortly after the shooting, Geise said, he picked up a cell phone that was being repaired at a store on Main Street near Ventura Avenue.

By 3:30 p.m., Geise said, Delgado and Patterson showed up at his motel room asking for his help in making fake identification cards. Geise admitted in court that he provided such illegal services.

Despite objections from Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Don Glynn, Superior Court Judge Ronald N. Purnell ruled that Geise could tell jurors about the alleged confessions made to him by Delgado and Patterson.

In his cross-examination, Glynn focused on portraying the defendant as a habitual liar who allegedly gave police one alibi and then changed it.

According to a police report cited in court, Geise told investigators he had gone to Magic Mountain with his family on the day of the killing.

On the witness stand, Geise said he never told police he had gone to the amusement park.

He also allegedly told police that drugs found at his motel belonged to other people, as did computer equipment used to make IDs. On Wednesday he admitted the drugs and computer belonged to him.

During a hearing outside the presence of the jury, Glynn said Geise "seems to have a habit of finding other people to blame when he is charged."

Jurors are in recess until Monday, when they are expected to begin deliberations.

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