LIMA — One of two people charged with involuntary manslaughter in the drug-related death last summer of Lima resident Dino Gerdeman in a motel room pleaded guilty Thursday to drastically reduced charges.
Dejuan Lucas faces a minimum of eight years in prison when he is sentenced April 1 after pleading guilty to second-degree felony charges of corrupting another with drugs and possession of a fentanyl-related compound, as well as a third-degree felony of possession of heroin.
The state dismissed 10 counts in three separate cases against Lucas, including the most serious charge — involuntary manslaughter — that alleged Lucas “did knowingly furnish fentanyl to Gerdeman with purpose to cause serious physical harm” or to cause him to become drug dependent.
Lucas, 26, was indicted in October in connection with Gerdeman’s death. In November he was indicted on separate charges of possession of heroin and possession of fentanyl. Each count featured specifications for the forfeiture of money in a drug case. With the state’s dismissal of the heroin charge, Lucas agreed to forfeit $715.
He had also been indicted in July on eight counts, seven of which were dismissed by the state. Lucas pleaded guilty in that case to a single count of trafficking a fentanyl-related compound, along with specifications that require him to forfeit to the court a Walther 9mm pistol, a Rock Island .45 caliber handgun and a sawed-off .410 shotgun.
A stipulated agreement between the state and Defense Attorney Anthony VanNoy calls for Lucas to be sentenced to a mandatory minimum prison sentence of four years on each of the second-degree felony counts and 12 months on the possession of fentanyl charge. The counts will be served consecutively. Lucas will be eligible to request early release on the third-degree felony count only.
A second individual charged in Gerdeman’s death, 19-year-old Kaelonda Peoples-Fuqua of Lima, is also expected to plead guilty to reduced charges, Assistant Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Kyle Thines said following Thursday’s hearing.
Gerdeman’s body was found shortly after midnight on May 27 in Room 252 at the Travelodge Motel, 805 S. Leonard Ave. Officers with the Lima Police Department were called to the scene about a disturbance. Upon entering the motel room, they observed an unresponsive male who did not exhibit any vital signs and was cold to the touch. The man was later identified as Gerdeman.
Several leads were followed, which eventually resulted in the arrest of Peoples-Fuqua. She was ultimately charged with involuntary manslaughter related to Gerdeman’s death and pleaded not guilty to the charge. Her trial is scheduled for June.
Three women in the room were interviewed by police, and one of them told police that Peoples-Fuqua had given Gerdeman some cocaine, according to court documents.
Peoples-Fuqua reportedly admitted to police that she had set up a party at the motel for Gerdeman’s birthday. She also allegedly admitted purchasing drugs and furnishing them to the victim.