Gilbert Lisonbee's generosity in hiring transients to perform odd jobs around his home and rental properties led to the 85-year-old man's 1989 beating death, a prosecutor said.
The 25-year-old man hired to shovel snow, Fredrick Germonto, robbed the victim of a large diamond ring and stole his checkbook after beating him to death with a wrench, Deputy Salt Lake County Attorney Greg Bown said as Germonto's trial opened Wednesday.Germonto is charged with second-degree murder, burglary and two counts of forgery.
Germonto was invited through a referral service to shovel snow at Lisonbee's home.
Later that day a friend checking on the victim found the home in disarray, found blood and then found the victim dead under some blankets in the living room, said Bown.
Homicide investigators found a blood-covered crescent wrench in the home, he said. Blood on the wrench matched both Germonto's and the victim's, Bown added.
A few hours after the killing, Germonto attempted to cash a $270 check drawn on the victim's account, Bown told the jury.
Germonto later showed friends a diamond ring and persuaded them to drive him to Provo to catch a bus, Bown said. The friends noticed a fresh cut on the defendant's hand.
Defense attorney Lynn Donaldson said the death was in self-defense.
Germonto had taken drugs before going to the victim's home, Donaldson told the court.
Germonto offered to fix a leaking toilet,"and that's where he got the crescent wrench," he said.
Lisonbee asked Germonto if he were on drugs, "and the defendant . . . said he was," Donaldson said.
The victim then went into the kitchen area and retrieved a large butcher knife.
Germonto tried to walk past the victim to get out of the house but was pushed down and cut on the hand by Lisonbee. That's when he grabbed the wrench and hit Lisonbee, said Donaldson.