Former Drug Dealer Gets Life Sentence in Slaying of Clerk

Times Staff Writer

A five-time felon and former drug dealer was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Tuesday for his role in the slaying of a Ventura market clerk.

Richard Geise, 33, of Ojai was found guilty of first-degree murder and five lesser charges last fall in connection with a fatal shooting during a robbery attempt two years ago.

Ventura County prosecutors said Geise was one of two masked gunmen who opened fire at the Central Market in west Ventura on April 6, 2001, killing a store employee and wounding two. Geise's attorney argued that prosecutors had the wrong man.

Jurors acquitted Geise on two attempted murder charges. But they found him guilty of first-degree murder and an allegation that the killing occurred during a robbery, apparently concluding that Geise was not one of the gunmen but a conspirator who helped plan the heist that killed Alejandro Alvarez, 35.

On Tuesday, defense attorney Robert Schwartz argued that the conspiracy theory was inconsistent with evidence in the case and asked Superior Court Judge Roland Purnell to grant a new trial. The judge denied the request. Schwartz said his client intends to appeal.

Police linked the crime to Geise and his cousin, Alfonso Delgado, after seizing weapons and ammunition similar to those used in a shooting from a Ventura hotel room where Geise was living. Delgado, 25, was killed in May 2001 by a SWAT team marksman after a standoff.

At trial, Geise maintained that the second gunman was a friend of Delgado's who died from an overdose. But Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Don Glynn presented evidence that showed a shell casing found at the market matched a .40-caliber gun found in Geise's room.

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