One week after a federal grand jury indicted him for the murder of Geri D. Johnson on March 16, Daniel S. Nantz is scheduled to make his initial court appearance.
Nantz, 29, of Woodbine, is scheduled to be arraigned at 4 p.m. today in U.S. District Court in London on charges of murder, kidnapping, and drug and weapons charges set out in the seven-count superseding indictment returned on July 24.
“Mr. Nantz vehemently denies the allegations. He is preparing a vigorous defense,” said his attorney, B.J. Foley. “Based on the serious nature and prior to knowing more about the Government’s case, I do not wish to comment about the facts of the case. “
According to the indictment Nantz allegedly killed Johnson, “with the intent to prevent communications by Geri D. Johnson to law enforcement officer and judge of the United States of information relating to the commission of a Federal offense, to wit: conspiracy to distribute a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine.”
Nantz was also indicted on one count of kidnapping another individual, identified as, “Victim 1.”
David C. Huff, 36, pleaded guilty in May to his part in the kidnapping.
According to the complaint that led to the charges against Huff, the victim told law enforcement the kidnapping was the result of a dispute over stolen drugs.
The victim told law enforcement that he/she had been held at Nantz’s residence and was permitted to leave after agreeing to obtain $200 to settle the debt.
As the victim was leaving the residence, he/she reported seeing Nantz and Huff in the pickup truck. Nantz was reportedly holding Johnson’s head while yelling that she had shot herself.
Nantz was indicted in March on a federal charge of conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine.
At a detention hearing for Nantz on March 25 in federal court, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Special Agent Todd Tremaine testified that Nantz told 911 dispatchers and Kentucky State Police that Johnson had committed suicide.
However, the autopsy showed that she had been shot in the back of the head near the shoulder area, and a second time in the neck.
Police recovered the weapon – a .38-caliber revolver – out of the pickup truck in which Nantz had reportedly transported Johnson from his residence at 1252 McNeil Corn Creek Road in Woodbine, where the shooting occurred, to Baptist Health Corbin.
Upon questioning from prosecutors, Tremaine testified that multiple witnesses reported seeing Nantz’s pickup truck traveling up the road near his home. As it passed, Nantz was reportedly heard yelling, “She shot herself!”
Tremaine testified that while a bullet hole was found in the headboard of the bed at Nantz’s home, no blood was found in the bed or in the room.
However, a blood trail, measuring 104 feet, was located outside leading toward an outbuilding and the place where Nantz’s truck was parked.
Under cross examination by Foley, Tremaine said that Nantz had crashed through the gate blocking his driveway as opposed to taking the time to open it as he rushed to get Johnson to the hospital.
Tremaine testified that two juveniles, who were at the residence at the time, told police they heard three shots, one from the bedroom and two more from outside.
In addition, a text message sent from Johnson’s phone appears to have been her pleading for help in escaping Nantz.
“I need to get out of here right now,” Tremaine said of the text message noting that “here” referred to Nantz’s home.
As to a possible motive for the killing, Tremaine noted that Johnson was one of nine people named in the federal indictment charging a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
As part of an agreement with federal prosecutors, Tremaine said Johnson provided information on Nantz’s drug trafficking activities.
The indictment included additional charges of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine.
Jonathan Harper and Derwin Julien are named as co-conspirators, though the indictment states others were involved.
A second conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine charge names Geri D. Johnson and Tammy Marie Vest as co-conspirators.
Nantz is also charged with two counts of possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a drug crime.
The final charge in the seven-count indictment accuses Nantz of possession of a firearm despite a previous conviction of a misdemeanor domestic violence crime.
If convicted of the murder, Nantz may be sentenced to death under federal law, but faces a minimum of life in prison.