A teen has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of a 60-year-old Chinese restaurant delivery driver in June 2012.
Rasheed Ramone Thompson, 19, pleaded guilty Thursday in New Hanover County Superior Court to charges of second-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon.
Thompson’s plea came just a day after his co-defendant in the case — 23-year-old Cornell Haugabook — was found guilty on several felony charges, including first-degree murder. Haugabook was sentenced to life in prison.
Haugabook and Thompson were among six people charged in connection with the robbery and fatal shooting of Zen Bo Liu in the 700 block of 13th Street on June 14, 2012.
Haugabook, who is four to five years older than the rest of his co-defendants, had taken “the five other children down this road,” District Attorney Ben David said after Haugabook’s sentencing in the case.
“Mr. Zen Bo Liu was called to a residence to deliver Chinese food…when Mr. Liu got to that location he was approached by two men…who robbed and shot and killed him before he was able to get out of the vehicle there and died in his vehicle at the scene,” Assistant District Attorney Dru Lewis said.
In the days following the incident, Wilmington detectives tracked the phone that was used to place the order, Lewis said. The phone was tracked to a Manije Dameek Johnson-Martin, another co-defendant in the case, who made a statement to police following his arrest.
Johnson-Martin’s statement led to the arrest of Thompson and Haugabook, as well as Mustafaa Friend, Nathaniel Lawrence and Marvin White, Lewis said.
“It was learned…that [Thompson] was there at the residence on Queen Street where the call was placed from,” Lewis said. “This defendant had known that a robbery was to occur, and knew that Haugabook and Friend had handguns.”
Thompson had supplied a $100 bill as bait money for the robbery, according to Lewis.
“His understanding was Mustafaa Friend and Cornell Haugabook would give it to the driver to cause some distraction while the robbery was to take place,” Lewis said.
Thompson went with his co-defendants in the case to watch the robbery take place from a nearby alley, he added.
Lawrence, who along with Johnson-Martin is 19, and White, who is 21, have also pleaded guilty to charges in the case, according to court records.
A trial date for Friend, 18, is pending on charges of first-degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon and discharging a weapon into occupied property inflicting serious bodily injury, according to District Attorney Ben David. Prosecutors allege that Friend accompanied Haugabook in the robbery and shot the victim once in the foot.
Attorney Andrew Nettleman, who represented Thompson in the case, said his client has repeatedly expressed remorse for what happened to Liu.
“The first time I met Mr. Thompson…he broke down in tears that day and told us he had no idea that anybody was going to die that night,” Nettleman said to the judge at the conclusion of Thompson’s plea.
“He was also young at this time. But I think in light of the trial that took place and the evidence that was presented, he’s decided this is the right thing for him to do at this point. So he intends to honor his agreement with the state,” Nettleman said.
According to Thompson’s plea agreement, he is to provide truthful statements to the state and to give future testimony in the case.
Superior Court Judge John Nobles ordered Thompson’s sentencing to be heard at a later date. He faces an active sentence 125-162 months in prison as part of his plea agreement.
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Christina Haley is a crime and courts reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6337 or firstname.lastname@example.org.