The last defendant charged with the shooting death of a 60-year-old delivery driver in 2012 has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the case.
Mustafaa Friend, 19, pleaded guilty Wednesday in New Hanover County Superior Court to charges of second-degree murder, discharging a firearm into occupied property inflicting serious bodily injury, robbery with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon.
Friend was the last of five to plead guilty in connection with the robbery and fatal shooting of Zen Bo Liu in the 700 block of 13th Street on June 14, 2012. His co-defendant in the case — 23-year-old Cornell Haugabook — was sentenced to life in prison after he was found guilty on several felony charges, including first-degree murder, last month.
“Mr. Haugabook, who had brought two guns to the scene…handed a .32-caliber pistol to this defendant to take part in the robbery with him. At that point they had the food delivered to a residence where they knew nobody was home,” Assistant District Attorney Dru Lewis said during Friend’s plea.
Haugabook and Friend went to the residence and waited on the front porch for the Chinese restaurant delivery driver to arrive, Lewis said. When they tried to rob Liu, an argument occurred and shots were fired.
“The state’s evidence had shown that this defendant fired the first shot with the .32 caliber-handgun. The shot went into the bottom of Mr. Liu’s foot. Mr. Haugabook’s shot to Mr. Liu’s face was ultimately the shot that killed Mr. Liu,” Lewis said.
Friend, Haugabook and several other co-defendants in the case went back to a home on Queen Street, where they divided the food and counted the money, Lewis said. More than $40 in food was taken from the victim and some change.
Law enforcement found the weapons used in the robbery and shooting, as well as evidence of Friend’s fingerprint and Haugabook’s palm print on Liu’s vehicle, Lewis said.
Friend was sentenced to more than 23 years in the N.C. Department of Corrections. As part of his plea agreement, a first-degree murder charge was dismissed.
Four other co-defendants in the case – Nathaniel Lawrence, Manije Dameek Johnson-Martin, Rasheed Thompson and Marvin White – have also pleaded guilty to charges in the case, Lewis said.
As part of their plea agreements, many of the co-defendants’ sentences were delayed until the completion of the case. Thompson, 19, pleaded guilty Aug. 13 to second-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon. His sentencing took place in New Hanover County Superior Court following Friend’s plea on Wednesday. He was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison.
White, 21, was sentenced to more than two years in prison on conspiracy charge. His sentence will run following the expiration of his current sentence on robbery charges that are not related to the case.
Johnston-Martin’s sentence was extended due to his lack of cooperation in Haugabook’s first-degree murder trial, Lewis said. While the 19-year-old was originally set to receive more than 10 years in prison on a second-degree murder charge, the judge added a year and a half to his sentence for not complying with the plea agreement.
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