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Ventura County

Defendant's 2nd Murder Trial Begins

Former Ojai resident is charged with killing a Ventura market clerk during a 2001 robbery.

November 01, 2002|Fred Alvarez | Times Staff Writer

A second trial for murder defendant Richard Geise began Thursday the same way his first trial ended, with a defense attorney blaming a dead man for the fatal shooting last year of a Ventura market clerk.

But to prove it this time, defense attorney Robert Schwartz told jurors he will call the dead man's father to the stand to back up the assertion.

Geise, 32, a former Ojai resident, is one of two men accused of killing Alejandro Alvarez and wounding two of his co-workers during a robbery of Ventura's Central Market in April 2001.

Gunfire erupted after two men wearing gas masks stormed the store, demanded money and began shooting before employees could comply.

Police linked the crime to Geise and his cousin, Alfonso Delgado, after seizing weapons and ammunition similar to those used in the shooting from a Ventura hotel room where Geise was living.

Delgado, 25, was killed in May 2001 by a Ventura police SWAT team marksman after a five-hour standoff outside the home of Delgado's grandmother.

Geise has maintained that Sam Patterson, a Delgado friend who has since died from a drug overdose, was the second shooter.

Schwartz, who was appointed to represent Geise after a mistrial was declared earlier this year, told jurors that claim will be supported by two witnesses, including Patterson's father, Walter.

"About a week before the robbery, Sam looked up and said, 'Dad, your son is going away to prison for the rest of his life for murder,' " Schwartz said in recounting a conversation his investigator had with the elder Patterson.

When Walter Patterson asked his son if he was referring to the Central Market shooting, Sam Patterson turned white, as if in shock, Schwartz said.

"Why would he say this unless it were true?" Schwartz said of Walter Patterson's pending testimony. "The people cannot and will not prove Mr. Geise is guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt for one simple reason: It wasn't Mr. Geise."

Geise is charged with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and several other charges stemming from the shooting.

A mistrial was declared during Geise's first trial after his attorney at the time, Willard Wiksell, said he had been given new evidence that made it impossible for him to continue. Geise has since also been charged with suborning perjury for allegedly asking a witness to lie during the first trial.

Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Don Glynn told jurors in his opening statement Thursday that a firearms expert will testify that a shell casing found at the market matched a .40-caliber gun found in Geise's hotel room.

The expert will further testify, Glynn said, that the casing, as well as ammunition seized at the hotel, all bore the same manufacturer's stamp.

Testimony got underway Thursday as the prosecution called its first witnesses.

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