Islesboro man sentenced for role in killing of fellow soldier

By Ben Holbrook | Aug 19, 2014

An Islesboro soldier pleaded guilty to assisting in the murder of another soldier after a 2013 fight.

Spc. Ajoni Isaia Runnion-Bareford, 22, pleaded guilty to a charge of rendering criminal assistance in the first degree at Pierce County Superior Court in Tacoma, Wash., Aug. 13, for his involvement in the death of Spc. Tavin Geike. Runnion-Bareford was sentenced to 12 months in prison and will receive credit for 308 days he has served, according to online court documents.

He was also ordered to pay $1,200 in court fees.

According to previously published reports, the charge stems from an incident that occurred Saturday, Sept. 5, 2013, at 2:38 a.m. when the Lakewood Police Department received a report of a stabbing in the 12500 block of Pacific Avenue Southwest in Washington state.

Officers arriving at the scene found Spc. Tavin Geike lying on the ground where he was pronounced dead. Witnesses to the incident told police that Geike had been visiting friends at a nearby motel and was walking along the road with two other friends, according to court documents.

As the three were walking along the road, five men who were in a vehicle traveling on Pacific Highway exchanged words with Geike and his friends, an arrest report by the Lakewood Police Department states.

The men in the vehicle then stopped to talk with Geike and his friends, but nothing happened after all of the men discovered they were active duty soldiers. However, as the two parties were separating, Pvt. Jeremiah Hill, 23, appeared to “bear hug” Geike and pushed him to the ground, the arrest report says.

It wasn't until after Hill and his friends left in their vehicle that Geike's friends discovered Geike had been stabbed, court documents indicate.

An autopsy performed on Geike indicated he suffered a superficial stab wound to his right side and a deep stab wound to the front of his chest that cut through a rib and plunged through his heart, according to court documents.

According to the arrest report, Hill suffered a knife wound on his right hand during the stabbing. When Hill returned to his barracks with his friends, he sought medical treatment and told another soldier he cut himself when he “stabbed a guy to death.”

When Hill was confronted regarding the nature of his injury, he said he cut his hand while chopping vegetables. Hill was taken to Madigan Hospital where he told staff he injured himself while cutting parachute cord, the arrest report states.

During the course of the investigation, officers interviewed Runnion-Bareford who admitted the vehicle driven at the time of the stabbing belonged to him. Runnion-Bareford also told police he took the knife Hill allegedly used to stab Geike and threw it into the brush, the court affidavit states.

Runnion-Bareford told investigators he parked his vehicle several blocks from his barracks to avoid detection and attempted to clean up the blood in the car. When Runnion-Bareford learned Hill had been arrested, he again tried to clean up the blood in the vehicle using bleach.

Investigators were able to located Runnion-Bareford's vehicle and a search warrant was served on the car. Court documents state the knife believed to have been used to stab Geike was also recovered.

Detectives also spoke with Pfc. Cedarium L. Johnson who told police when Hill got into the car he was covered in blood. Johnson then told the driver of the vehicle to travel north on Pacific Avenue before turning south onto Interstate 5. Johnson then told the driver to slow down and told Runnion-Bareford to throw the knife out of the vehicle, court documents state.

Runnion-Bareford was charged with rendering criminal assistance in the first degree for his role in disposing of the knife and for his attempts to clean, bleach and hide the car, according to court documents.

Hill is charged with murder in the second degree, according to online court documents. Johnson was charged with rendering criminal assistance in the first degree.

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