A Middletown man will spend the rest of his life in prison for killing two women last summer before turning the gun on himself after a standoff in Trenton.
James Geran, 46, pleaded guilty last month in Butler County Common Pleas Court to aggravated murder for shooting his girlfriend’s mother, Sharon McCleary, in the head on June 13 and murder for the fatal shooting of Megan Motter the day before.
He faced the minimum of life in prison without the possibility of parole after 26 years, but after an emotional sentencing hearing that included tearful statements from both victims’ families and an apology from Geran, Judge Keith Spaeth imposed the maximum sentence.
Family members sobbed when the sentence was handed down.
“I do not want this monster to get out,” said McCleary’s sister, Cathy Hill-Glorious. “I want him in prison forever.”
Phyllis Turner, McCleary’s sister-in-law, said McCleary was a “lovely person” who was disabled and blind. She looked up at Geran, who was just a few feet away.
“Why, why James? Can you tell me why?” Turner said to Geran, who looked at her but did not respond.
“She never did anything to anyone,” said Sharon McCleary’s son, Richard McCleary, who added his mother depended on her daughters for help.
Richard McCleary told the judge he prays for Geran, but he never wants him out of prison.
“I ask … you give him life, I want justice,” Richard McCleary said. “Some people you just can’t help.”
Chandra Potschner, Motter’s mother, told the judge her daughter came to Middletown to stay clean after getting out of prison for charges tied to another drug-addicted boyfriend.
“Now her little boy is looking for her,” Potschner said. “She was murdered for no reason.”
She too asked Geran why he killed her daughter.
“All I want to know is exactly what happened and the truth. Pray every day I will get the answers,” she said. “This was an evil act.”
Geran’s attorney, Lawrence Hawkins III, told the judge that Geran’s behavior has changed for the better since he was in jail. Hawkins said Geran has a 13-year-old child who adores him.
“James has a lot of redeeming qualities,” according to forensic report, Hawkins said. “He can be rehabilitated with mental health and substance abuse counseling.”
The defense asked Spaeth to impose a sentence that would afford the opportunity for him to get out at some point, even if he is in his 80s.
Geran showed little emotion during the sentencing hearing. He offered a short apology and was able to speak clearly after apparently healing from the self-inflicted gunshot wound to the face.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t regret my actions. It is constantly on my mind … I accept full responsibility,” Geran said.
Geran, a convicted felon, shot Motter in the head, killed her and dumped her body off Woodsdale Road in Madison Twp. Sheriff’s deputies said Motter was a “business associate in criminal activity” with Geran. The investigation of Motter’s death led deputies to the Trenton apartment.
When deputies knocked on the door of the Sal Boulevard apartment, Geran shot at them, according to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.
Over the course of about two hours, Geran continued to fire between five to eight times at the deputies outside. Negotiators talked him into releasing two sisters, including one who was his girlfriend, Gina McCleary. She was not in the courtroom for sentencing Thursday.
However, when Geran let the second sister out, he immediately closed the door and deputies heard gunfire.
Geran then crawled out, having shot himself in the chin with a .380 caliber gun, according to sheriff’s deputies. Inside the apartment, deputies found McCleary dead.
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