By Debbie Gregory.
The courtroom at Joint Base Lewis-McChord was filled with 20 year-old Spc. Tevin Geike’s family, friends, and soldiers from his old unit, the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade. Twenty-four year-old Pvt. Jeremiah Hill was also present. Hill was found guilty of murder in the death of Geike.
Geike’s family and Hill’s loved ones watched intently as a six-officer jury sentenced the former Stryker soldier with the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division to 45 years in prison. Hill may be eligible for parole in less than nine years, with credit for time served.
Hill was found guilty of murder without premeditation, which is what saved him from serving life in prison. The jury also found Hill not guilty of obstructing an investigation and involuntary manslaughter.
Geike and Hill encountered one another in the early hours on October 5, 2013. According to the police, the altercation began when someone in the car Hill was in, shouted a racial comment toward Geike and the other white soldiers he was with. Authorities said the soldiers shouted something back, and a group of five black men from the car stopped and surrounded the soldiers.
Hill testified that he stabbed Geike while trying to defend himself from a blade in Geike’s hand, something the Army prosecutors found incredulous.
“Everything (Hill) told you with few exceptions was a lie,” Capt. Patrick Sandys, the Army prosecutor, said.
Sandys argued that Hill stalked Geike from the back, plunged a knife in the younger man’s upper left chest, and injured his own hand when his thumb slipped on the blade. This claim countered Hill’s explanation that Geike held a blade that slashed Hill’s right hand before Hill stabbed Geike with his left hand.
Defense attorney Capt. Austin Fenwick maintained that Hill’s story was the most accurate description of what happened in the moments leading up to Geike’s death.
Fenwick cast the six witnesses who testified this week as misleading. He charged that Geike’s buddies wanted to honor their friend while the soldiers who were with Hill that night gave the jury self-serving statements.
The Lakewood police recovered three knives from the scene. One was buckled into the victim’s belt. No other witness reported seeing Geike carrying a knife in his hand when Hill approached him.
In a few words to Geike’s family, Hill stood at the defendant’s table and took responsibility for the other soldier’s death.
“You’re not responsible. I am. I’m sorry about the death,” Hill said. “I killed him. There’s nothing to do to take it back.”
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Military Connection: Guilty Verdict in Deadly Joint Base Lewis-McChord Stabbing