A jury found a Los Osos man, accused of participating in a home invasion robbery gone wrong, guilty on seven criminal counts Tuesday in addition to numerous enhancements that could keep him in state prison for the rest of his life.
But the jury in San Luis Obispo Superior Court was deadlocked on the charge of murder through a provocative act in the trial against Luke Austin Waite, 22.
Waite was convicted of charges including attempted murder and residential burglary in the April 8, 2009, invasion of a Morro Bay home on Seaview Avenue, near Hillview Avenue.
Two men, Waite and Jason Matthew Graves, went to the residence armed and wearing masks, intending to rob four male friends playing poker inside, according to testimony.
Graves died after one of the poker players, Seth Terrazas, wrestled a gun away from Graves and shot him, before shooting Waite, as well.
Waite’s attorney, Gael Mueller, said in her closing argument that the suspects went to the home to take marijuana and possibly money from the residents.
Jurors declined to comment about their verdict, remaining behind closed courtroom doors, after being asked by a bailiff whether they wished to speak to the media.
Waite is to be sentenced Aug. 22 before Judge Ginger Garret, when the possibility of a new trial on the murder count will be considered, as well.
He faces a minimum of 90 years in state prison before he’s eligible for parole, said Jerret Gran, chief deputy district attorney.
The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office has the option to try Waite again on the murder count with a new jury, but no decision has been made on whether to do so.
“I’m very pleased with the jury’s hard work and consideration of all charges,” deputy district attorney Charlie Blair said in a statement. “I’m happy with the verdict and result for the victims and their families.”
Mueller said after the verdict was read that her client made bad mistakes but maintains that he “didn’t kill Jason (Graves).”
She said Waite was “in shock” but was holding up well under the circumstances.
“I’m glad that the jury did not convict on the murder charge,” Mueller said. “I’ll do my diligence in considering a motion for a new trial.”
Blair argued that Waite began shooting first from a carport area outside the home, creating a sense of urgency for Terrazas.
Mueller argued the evidence showed reasonable doubt that her client was the person who fired the first shots, as alleged.
A getaway driver in the case, Joshua Daniel Coleman, pleaded no contest to charges including two counts of residential robbery, prosecutors said.
Coleman faces a sentence of about nine years in state prison under his plea agreement.
His sentencing is pending.