Prosecutor drops death penalty in Geist slaying

TACOMA, Wash. -- Prosecutors have decided not to seek the death penalty in the retrial of a man convicted in the 1998 execution-style slaying of his boss.

The state Supreme Court threw out the death penalty in the case last year, citing vague jury instructions. Now Pierce County Prosecutor Gerry Horne has decided not to try again for the death penalty, in part because of a possible paperwork problem. But he's proceeding with the retrial.

Covell Thomas, 28, was convicted in 2000 of killing his boss, Richard Geist, 26, during a robbery. Geist sustained four gunshot wounds to the head.

The death penalty was thrown out because jurors did not determine whether Thomas was the principal assailant or merely an accomplice Under state law, only primary participants in an aggravated first-degree murder case can receive the death penalty.

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