A physically and mentally disabled homeless man from Florida will spend the next 10 years in an Arizona prison.
Judge Richard Nichols of Pima County Superior Court on Monday sentenced Thomas Burton Trosper Jr., 54, to prison for manslaughter in the June 2, 1990, attack on Tucson real estate agent Kenneth Geiger, 37.
Geiger’s body was found by employees of a motel in the 300 block of East Benson Highway after he failed to check out on time, and Geiger’s truck was missing.
An autopsy showed Geiger was strangled.
In July 2004, Trosper’s fingerprint was found on beer cans that had been in Geiger’s motel room.
Cold-case detectives from the Tucson Police Department located Trosper in Florida, where he was interviewed in March 2007, according to a presentence report.
“I’m very sorry for his death,” Trosper said Monday before sentencing.
“I’m sure this shouldn’t have happened and I wish things was different.
“But right or wrong,” Trosper said, “I’ll take the blame.”
Trosper told detectives Geiger made a sexual advance, which angered him, according to the presentence report.
Nichols could have sentenced Trosper to up to 15 years in prison, but Trosper could have backed out of the plea and requested a trial if the sentence exceeded 10 years.
Deputy County Attorney William McCollum asked for a 10-year sentence, saying Geiger’s only survivor, his mother, agreed it was a fair sentence given Trosper’s situation.
“No one will ever know how many evenings and days of agony Mrs. Geiger has experienced since her son’s death,” McCollum said.
Assistant Public Defender Kyle Ipson told Nichols that Trosper left town immediately after fighting with Geiger in the motel, unaware that Geiger had died.
Trosper hopped aboard a train, ending up in Salt Lake City, where he was prepared to turn himself in to police if a warrants check showed he was wanted in Tucson, Ipson said. When no warrant was revealed, Trosper went to Indianapolis, where he again asked authorities to check for a warrant, which didn’t exist then.
Ipson said Trosper only took Geiger’s truck to flee a “bad situation in his life.”
“It wasn’t a blissful ignorance he had consigned himself to,” Ipson said.
“If he found out something bad had happened, he was going to turn himself in.
“But he didn’t walk in (to a police station) and say, ‘I killed a man,’ ” Ipson said.
Trosper has been an alcoholic since he was 17, court records show.
He quit drinking in 2002 after suffering seizures from withdrawal, the presentence report says.
Trosper tried to kill himself several times, according to Ipson and the presentence report. In 1992, he shot himself in the head, which left him partially paralyzed.
Trosper also suffers from mental illness and depression, for which he self-medicated with alcohol over the years, Ipson said.