A former University of Georgia student is waiting to be sent to prison for his role in a drug deal that ended in the murder of a friend and fellow UGA student two years ago.
Lucas Amsler Raposo, formerly charged with felony murder for the shooting death of Min Seok “Mike” Cho during a 2015 drug deal that Raposo had set up, had the murder charge dropped in January of this year after his defense attorney argued that his client was not legally responsible for Cho’s death.
Three weeks ago, on April 19, Raposo entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty to two counts of possession with intent to distribute marijuana in return for a 10-year prison sentence.
“Lucas and his family are pleased with the outcome of our long, hard fight to resolve this case,” said defense attorney Mo Wiltshire. “Lucas feels extreme remorse over the loss of his friend but this plea recognizes the central truth of this case that Lucas did not cause his friend’s death.
“Lucas did not cause the death of his friend but he did plan to sell less than two ounces of marijuana to a pair of strangers who turned out to be very dangerous,” Wiltshire said Tuesday. “While he feels he is in some ways morally responsible for his friend’s death this plea establishes that he is not legally responsible.”
For two years, Wiltshire fought for his client, who was initially indicted for murder with the actual shooter and accomplice.
He convinced the district attorney to present the case in December to a different grand jury. That panel re-indicted Raposo’s codefendants, Cormaine Goss and Andre Ruff, on murder, armed robbery and firearms charges, but did not accuse Raposo of anything related to Cho’s death.
“Finally, validation has been achieved. Lucas is not any kind of murderer. He is lucky to be alive, he could have easily been gunned down as well,” Wiltshire said.
According to police reports and court documents, authorities believe Goss and Ruff arranged to meet with Raposo on the afternoon of Jan. 13, 2015, to buy marijuana. Fearing he might be robbed at the meeting, Raposo asked to borrow Cho’s gun. Cho reportedly decided to accompany his friend to the meeting as an armed bodyguard.
Goss and Ruff reportedly got into the back of Raposo’s car at University Garden apartments on Baxter Drive, where police said the planned marijuana sale turned into an armed robbery and Cho was shot in the head, reportedly by Goss.
Authorities said Raposo drove his mortally wounded friend to Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center and left him on the ground in an ambulance bay. Hospital staff found Cho and brought him into the emergency room, where he subsequently died from a gunshot wound to his head.
As in the initial indictment, Raposo remains accused of possession with intent to distribute marijuana. He was expelled from UGA soon after his arrest in 2015. He was indicted with Goss and and Ruff January 2016.
In the months leading up to the re-indictment in December, Raposo’s attorney presented to the DA roughly 40 affidavits, letters of support and witness statements, all from people who were ready to come to court to testify on behalf of Lucas Raposo.
“These folks were prepared to testify about Lucas’ character, his nature and basic makeup, his many achievements in academics, athletics and personality prior to the tragedy,” Wiltshire said. “Although he is far from perfect, Lucas is a good kid from a good family who made some terrible and tragic mistakes. Throughout the case we have maintained that he simply did not deserve to be charged with murder. He was a witness to the murder who was lucky to have survived.”
Having received a 10-year prison sentence and already incarcerated for the past two years and four months, Wiltshire said his client “will be eligible for parole virtually as soon as he enters the state correctional system.”
Until his custody is transferred to the Georgia Department of Corrections, Raposo will remain at the Clarke County Jail.
Goss and Ruff remained incarcerated at the jail without bail being set, and an attorney status conference hearing for both men is scheduled for June 12 in Clarke County Superior Court.
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