Trial testimony centers around alleged drug trafficking

·3 min read

Aug. 31—LIMA — Day two of the jury trial for a Lima man charged with providing the drugs that killed 59-year-old Dino Gerdeman in a Lima motel room more than a year ago focused on his history of alleged drug trafficking in the months leading up to that fateful night.

Jurors in the trial of DeJuan Lucas on Tuesday heard testimony from a confidential police informant who took part in undercover purchases of heroin from Lucas on two separate occasions in August 2019. The man, who said he was attempting to avoid or reduce driving under suspicion charges through his cooperation with law enforcement, testified that he first met Lucas in jail.

The informant referred to Lucas as "my drug dealer" and said he had helped the defendant move his belongings into a duplex on East Elm Street and had installed a security camera system for Lucas. He testified that on Aug. 13 and Aug. 19 of 2019 he purchased heroin, which turned out to contain fentanyl, from Lucas as part of a police sting.

Lucas, 27, is on trial on 12 felony charges in three separate cases. The most serious are a charge of involuntary manslaughter, a felony of the first degree, and a second-degree felony count of corrupting another with drugs. Both counts are linked to Gerdeman's death.

Other charges include a first-degree felony count of possession of heroin and a second-degree felony count of possession of a fentanyl-related compound.

Lucas is also charged with two counts of trafficking in heroin, three counts of trafficking in a fentanyl-related compound and one count of trafficking in cocaine, all felonies of the fourth degree. He also faces third-degree felony counts of possession of heroin and a fentanyl-related compound.

Lima Police Department investigator Aaron Montgomery, who testified that he works closely with the West Central Ohio Crime Task Force, was on the witness stand for much of the day as he explained the history of the controlled drug buys as well as the Aug. 30, 2019, execution of a no-knock search warrant at the East Elm Street location where the informant had purchased drugs. Lucas was the target of that raid but was not in the home that morning when the Allen County Sheriff's Office task force arrived, Montgomery said.

Evidence seized during the raid included two handguns and a shotgun, various amounts of suspected heroin and fentanyl and several cellular phones. Also discovered in the home were a birth certificate and resume belonging to Lucas. Montgomery said that while Lucas was not present at the Elm Street duplex during the execution of a search warrant, "I felt confident that he was living there." The investigator said the discovery of the birth certificate, resume and family photos confirmed his suspicions.

Defense Attorney Anthony VanNoy questioned Montgomery about several of the items found during the search and attempted to cast doubt that Lucas in fact was a resident of the home or that drugs found in the residence belonged to Lucas.

"Based on your experience, can there be multiple drug dealers in a single home sometimes?" the attorney asked Montgomery.

"Yes," the investigator said.

Testimony on Wednesday is expected to focus on the death of Gerdeman, who was found deceased inside a Lima motel in the early morning hours of May 27, 2020. According to prosecutors, he died after ingesting drugs that Lucas had provided to a young woman who was attending a party with Gerdeman.

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