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HomeNewsArchivesBail Set at $2.5M for Man Charged in Gottlieb Murder

Bail Set at $2.5M for Man Charged in Gottlieb Murder

Aug. 1, 2005 — Mitchell Nicholas, the man accused in the shooting death of a St. Thomas woman, had his bail set at $2.5 million during an appearance in Superior Court Monday. And Judge Brenda Hollar wasted no time in finding probable cause to charge Nicholas with murder in the first degree, assault, unlawful possession of a firearm in the commission of a violent crime, unauthorized possession of ammunition, and domestic violence. Nicholas has been charged with the fatal shooting of 49-year-old Georgia Gottlieb.
Testimony by VIPD Detective Lionel Bess provided some insight into what led to the fatal shooting Friday. Bess recounted a trail of threats that Nicholas had levied against Gottlieb and her friends — that he would kill her and her friends and that "if he could not have her, no one else could."
Bess testified that on several occasions Nicholas threatened to do Gottlieb bodily harm and that recently she had told another person that she had thrown Nicholas out.
Based on witness interviews, Bess said the Major Crime Unit believes Nicholas shot Gottlieb somewhere between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. Friday before leaving the Nazareth residence they shared with Gottlieb's minor son.
"The victim was found in a pool of dried blood in the bedroom of the home at No. 9L-4 Nazareth," Bess testified under questioning from Asst. Attorney General Brenda Scales. Gottlieb suffered a single gunshot wound to the back of the head.
A person identified by Bess as Witness No. 1 told investigators that he was taking a bath when he heard a loud boom in the house. "When he came out to ask what the noise was, the defendant told him it was nothing and he should get dressed," Bess said. Nicholas left the house with the minor boy in Gottlieb's vehicle. Two other witnesses told police they, too, heard the loud noise from the gunshot. One witness told police that it was unusual that Nicholas would leave with Gottlieb's son and not return to the home.
Bess detailed a number of steps that FBI agents and VIPD detectives took which led them to the suspect's whereabouts early Saturday morning, a little less than 24 hours after the killing took place.
Officers tracked Nicholas through cellular phone records and his checking into the Bellavista Scott Hotel.
Personnel at the hotel led police to the room where Nicholas and the boy were staying. "When we entered the room, Nicholas pointed a gun at the officers but discarded the gun when we told him to drop it," Bess told the court.
The minor boy was quickly removed from the room unharmed and Nicholas was taken into custody. "We recovered the gun, but so far we are unable to determine if it was the murder weapon," Bess told the court. The bullet will be removed from Gottlieb during an autopsy and that, he said, "should allow us the opportunity to compare the weapons characteristics and determine if the gun recovered was the murder weapon."
Bess said the gun used in the fatal shooting was an unlicensed .45 caliber pistol.
Several of Gottlieb's friends sobbed openly during the court hearing Monday as details of the shooting were made public. A close friend of Gottlieb, Venus Green, glared at Nicholas from the moment he was escorted into the courtroom by Superior Court marshals.
The three entrances to the courtroom were heavily guarded with up to seven marshals posted at the courtroom access points throughout the proceedings.
Public Defender Jesse Bethel had no cross-examination questions for Bess nor did he challenge prosecution statements that Nicholas, a ferry captain, posed a flight risk. Nicholas was described as a naturalized U.S. citizen, a native of Antigua.
Scales also called for Nicholas to be subjected to electronic monitoring if released on bail and termed the defendant as a danger to family and friends of the deceased, adding, "He threatened to kill, [and] made good on those threats; what does he have to lose?"
Nicholas was whisked away to the Bureau of Corrections immediately after Hollar announced bail and set an August 11th date for arraignment. Funeral arrangements for Gottlieb were still pending as of Monday afternoon. Green said that the Gottlieb's son is now residing with relatives.
Gottlieb, an administrator with the National Park Service, was chairperson of the V.I Carnival Committee's booklet subcommittee.
Outside the courtroom, Gottlieb's friend, Glenn "Kwabena" Davis, said he was a little intrigued at Nicholas' nonchalant attitude in court. But he said, "the judge surpassed my expectations when she set bail as she did."
Davis said he is convinced that justice will be served. Green was pleased at "the fine work of the VIPD and the FBI in taking Nicholas into custody and getting the minor boy to safety."
"Justice in the Virgin Islands is good," Green added. When asked why she glared at Nicholas during the court hearing, she said, "I wanted him to make eye contact even if for the split second to tell him about what he has taken away from me … my friend of 30 years, how dare him?"
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