HomeTop StoriesKentucky man gets life in prison after killing pregnant girlfriend to cover...

Kentucky man gets life in prison after killing pregnant girlfriend to cover up trafficking

A Corbin man convicted of killing his pregnant girlfriend to keep her from testifying about his drug trafficking operation has been sentenced to life in prison.

Daniel Scott Nantz, 32, pleaded guilty to murdering a federal witness in March — four years to the day he killed 29-year-old Geri Johnson, who was 33 weeks pregnant with their daughter, Amelia Jo. Although Nantz faced a mandatory life sentence, prosecutors still called for enhancements to his sentence because they said Nantz obstructed justice by allegedly destroying evidence.

Prosecutors also said the victim was “unusually vulnerable” due to her late stage of pregnancy.

“Nantz deserves every second, of every hour, of every year this Court will adjudge,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenna Reed wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “(Nantz) personifies the depraved violence that goes hand-in-hand with methamphetamine trafficking. But make no mistake, the Defendant’s conduct has taken methamphetamine violence to an extreme end based on his individual characteristics.

Reed previously said Nantz is one example of extreme violence against women caught in Eastern Kentucky drug trafficking operations.

Despite arguments from Nantz’ defense team, U.S. District Judge Robert E. Wier sided with prosecutors and ruled that Nantz tried to obstruct justice.

Nantz initially faced additional charges of kidnapping, conspiracy to distribute meth, possessing a gun in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime and possessing a gun as a person convicted of domestic violence. The four charges were dismissed as part of a plea deal.

Federal prosecutors previously planned to seek the death penalty for Nantz, according to court records. But they were later ordered not to seek the penalty.

See also  Alphabet rallies as Google Search unfazed by challenge from Microsoft's Bing

Nantz appeared in court for his sentencing hearing Wednesday. Prosecutors and his defense team called witnesses to testify about the murder and his character.

Wier allowed Leigh Bays Donald, one of Johnson’s relatives, a chance to speak on the impact of Johnson’s death. Donald called Nantz a “spineless coward” who was afraid of her sister’s fearlessness.

Gary Proctor, a defense attorney for Nantz, said closure of the case yielded no winners and his client accepted responsibility for his crimes.

“We came here knowing what was going to happen today,” Proctor said, adding that of all the murder cases he has defended, Nantz was the only one who ever drove the victim to the hospital.

“That speaks to some innate good inside of him,” he said.

When Nantz was given a chance to speak he said, “I don’t think I am gong to say anything. Enough has already been said.”

What happened the night of the murder

The memo published in court documents details what happened the night of the murder, and the attempts made by Nantz and his family members to help cover up the shooting — which is thought to have been recorded by home cameras that were destroyed.

Johnson and Nantz began dating in the summer of 2018, and Johnson helped Nantz traffic meth, according to court documents. In October 2018 Johnson was arrested on state drug charges and provided statements to federal law enforcement involving Nantz — as did other co-conspirators.

In the days leading up to Johnson’s murder, Nantz shot at Johnson in his home and attempted to find a firearm that would not trace back to him, according to court documents. The day Johnson was killed, Nantz told a friend, “Geri’s talking to the feds. I think she’s telling. If so, I’ll just kill her,” according to court documents.

See also  Detroit Police are seeking help to find a missing 13-year-old girl

That night, Nantz was involved in kidnapping someone, according to court documents. He left the scene of the kidnapping and said “I gotta take her somewhere or do something with her.”

After that, court documents allege Nantz’ minor children heard the first gunshot ring out from the back bedroom. A bullet hole was found in the headboard. The children reported hearing two additional gunshots outside and their dad’s truck leaving, according to the prosecution’s memo.

Once out in the driveway, Nantz shot Johnson in the back and the right side of her neck, according to the memo. Nantz allegedly loaded Johnson into the passenger side of his truck and returned to the scene of the earlier kidnapping where witnesses saw Johnson “slumped over with her mouth wide open,” according to prosecutors. He told them she shot herself.

Nantz asked David Huff, someone who helped Nantz with drug trafficking, if he should “get rid of her body,” and Nantz allegedly told the Huff to dismantle a security system at Nantz’ home. Nantz’ father, Bill Nantz, arrived at the trailer, and the cameras were never found by law enforcement by the time they arrived.

The dismantling of the cameras was prosecutors’ key argument to speak to Nantz’ alleged obstruction.

Huff and other witnesses testified Wednesday that there was a surveillance system in the home which showed a live feed, but they did not know if the system had the capability to record. Huff — who is incarcerated for kidnapping and received a lesser sentence for his cooperation — said he was present after the murder took place.

See also  Massive gas station explosion kills at least 35 in Dagestan in Russia's far southwest

Proctor said because there was no evidence the cameras could record, there was no obstruction. Proctor said aside from Huff’s testimony, there was no evidence to suggest Nantz himself attempted to get rid of the system.

After returning home, Nantz then drove Johnson to the hospital in Corbin and called 911, according to court documents. He told dispatch through tears his girlfriend shot herself over fears of being indicted. Johnson was dead after she arrived at the hospital. Their child died days later.

“As Geri’s lungs filled with blood and Amelia starved of oxygen in the seat next to him, (Nantz’) only concern was himself,” Reed wrote in her memorandum. “The only things on (Nantz’) mind were (1) would Huff help him get rid of the body? and (2) getting rid of the DVR system that recorded the murder.”

Wier ruled in favor of the enhancements despite the fact that Nantz was already facing a life sentence.

“All we know is that (the surveillance) was there and then it was gone,” Wier said. “This is all a constellation of activity of obstruction. This whole crime — murdering a federal witness — is obstruction of justice with a whole concept to cover up being prosecuted federally.”

- Advertisement -


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments