Two life terms for man in home robbery attempt

Luke Austin Waite
Luke Austin Waite

A Los Osos man was sentenced to two separate life terms Wednesday for his role in a chaotic Morro Bay shootout that killed his partner in crime.

Last summer, a jury convicted Luke Austin Waite, 23, of numerous crimes and enhancements, including attempted premeditated murder and attempted robbery while using a firearm. Waite, along with friend Jason Matthew Graves and Joshua Coleman, conspired to rob Seth Terrazas and his friends, who were playing poker on April 8, 2009. But after the home invasion occurred, a struggle and shootout ensued, and Graves, 22, was killed with his own gun. Waite and three of the men who had been inside the home were also shot.

According to a Probation Department report filed with the court, Waite said he committed the crime because he needed money for school, although probation officials expressed doubts about that claim. A graduate of a local continuation school, Waite told the Probation Department, “I’ve hurt a lot of people, and I feel bad. I scared the kids at the house, and my friend died.”

Waite briefly expressed remorse again Wednesday before Superior Court Judge Ginger Garrett sentenced him to two separate terms — 32 years and eight months to life, and 64 years to life — because the crimes and objectives were considered separate incidents with different victims.

“I watched you grow up (during the court process),” Garrett told him. “I don’t envy what you’ve got in front of you. But you made some bad choices. Somebody died that night.”

During the trial, Deputy District Attorney Charlie Blair and defense attorney Gael Mueller disagreed over who fired the first shots, which instigated the struggle and shootout. Mueller argued it was Graves; Blair said it was Waite. The Probation Department concluded that Waite appeared to have been a leader in the crime and had “no regard for anyone’s safety.”

Coleman, the getaway driver, was sentenced in October to nine years in prison for his role.