LIMA — A defendant who pleaded guilty in February to furnishing the illegal drugs that resulted in the death of a Lima man at the Travelodge motel nearly a year ago — then was permitted to withdraw that plea when new information came to light — is headed for a July 12 trial.
Dejuan Lucas, 27, of Lima, was indicted by a grand jury on charges of involuntary manslaughter and corrupting another with drugs, felonies of the first- and second-degree, respectively, in the death of 59-year-old Dino Gerdeman inside the Lima motel room on May 27 of last year.
Lucas accepted a deal from prosecutors in February and pleaded guilty to second-degree felony counts of corrupting another with drugs and possession of a fentanyl-related compound, along with a third-degree felony count of possession of heroin.
As part of that negotiated settlement, 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.
On March 30, Lucas’ attorney filed a motion with the court to withdraw his client’s guilty plea based on the fact that he was unaware at the time of “inducements by the prosecution of a key witness to cooperate and testify against the accused.”
Defense Attorney Anthony VanNoy in his motion stated that Lucas “believes the knowledge of such information prior to his plea agreement would have altered the course of his decision to agree to the plea.”
Judge Terri Kohlrieser allowed Lucas to withdraw his plea but firmly stated that no future plea deals would be accepted by the court. During a hearing Wednesday in Allen County Common Pleas Court, however, the judge said she “might seriously consider” any negotiated plea agreement prior to trial.
In March a co-defendant in Gerdeman’s death, Kaelonda Peoples-Fuqua, 20, of Lima, entered a guilty plea in Allen County Common Pleas Court to an amended count of attempted corrupting another with drugs, a third-degree felony, as part of a negotiated deal with prosecutors. An involuntary manslaughter charge was dismissed as part of that plea deal.
Peoples-Fuqua, who presumably has agreed to testify against Lucas, faces a maximum prison sentence of 36 months. Her sentencing hearing has already been postponed once.