TACOMA – A 23-year-old Washington-based soldier accused of fatally stabbing a fellow soldier in the heart after a verbal confrontation has been charged with first-degree murder.
Prosecutors charged Jeremiah Hill on Tuesday, saying he approached Spc. Tevin Geike from behind and attacked him early Saturday just as a confrontation between two groups in Lakewood was calming down.
Authorities also charged Cedarium Johnson, 21, and Ajoni Runnion-Bareford, 21, with rendering criminal assistance, saying they helped dispose of the murder weapon.
All three men pleaded not guilty in Pierce County Superior Court. Hill was held on $2 million bail.
The suspects and victim were all soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Hill is from Chicago and joined the Army this year, the News Tribune reported. Runnion-Bareford is from Islesboro, Maine, and Johnson is from Tyler, Texas.
An autopsy determined that Geike, 20, suffered a deep stab wound to his chest that cut through a rib and plunged through his heart, prosecutors said in charging documents.
Bail for Runnion-Bareford was set at $250,000.
Geike, of Summerville, S.C., was walking with two other soldiers early Saturday when words were exchanged with someone in a car. The vehicle, containing five people, stopped and four of the occupants got out to confront the three, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said the groups were separating after realizing they were all active-duty soldiers when Geike was fatally stabbed.