Wyoming Man Who Shot And Killed Drug Buyer In The Back Claims Self-Defense

An alleged Evansville drug dealer claims he shot and killed a customer in self-defense, but the prosecutor questions that because the victim “was shot squarely in his back.”

Dale Killingbeck

May 21, 20244 min read

Rajion Vu is accused of shooting and killing a man in a drug deal gone bad near this intersection in Casper.
Rajion Vu is accused of shooting and killing a man in a drug deal gone bad near this intersection in Casper. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

CASPER — An Evansville, Wyoming, man accused of killing another man during a drug deal gone bad argued for a significant reduction to his $750,000 bond, arguing he acted in self-defense. But he was shut down by a Natrona County District Court Judge on Tuesday.

Rajion Lee Vu, 25, stood before Judge Kerri Johnson for his arraignment on charges of second-degree murder, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance.

The charges stem from an alleged Feb. 1 marijuana transaction on the southwest side of Casper where Brandon Lopez, 30, was reportedly shot in the back by Vu after Lopez made a threat and bolted from Vu’s car without paying for the drugs.

Vu, who appeared in an orange jail jumpsuit and shackles, was clean shaven and smiled in a short pre-court conversation with his attorney, Keith Nachbar. Once before the judge, Vu told Johnson that he understood the charges against him. He then pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

As part of his possession with intent to deliver charge, Natrona County Chief Deputy District Attorney Blaine Nelson filed a notice of enhancement because of the proximity of the incident to a Casper school that would require a minimum of two years in prison and an additional fine of up to $1,000.

Vu told the judge he understood the enhancement charge.

Bond Request

Nachbar then asked the judge to reconsider the $750,000 cash or surety bond that was set in Casper Circuit Court.

“We would like to ask for a bond reduction because a number of things have changed,” Nachbar said.

He said his client has retained an attorney, has paid for an expert witness who will be part of the defense of his case, and has limited funds.

“This is a self-defense case,” Nachbar argued. “Mr. Vu’s family is here in Casper. He has no violent past. I don’t think the safety of the community is at issue here.”

Nachbar said the state “has seized basically all of his (Vu’s) funds” and that Vu could be placed in the custody of his brother while he awaits trial. Nachbar asked that bond be dropped to $100,000 cash or surety.

Nelson said the state “strongly disagreed with the narrative” put forth by Nachbar. He pointed out the nearly $500,000 in cash seized by the state from Vu and his property came about through Vu’s drug sales operation and connections.

“His only source of employment is as an Uber Eats delivery driver,” Nelson said, questioning how an “Uber Eats delivery driver” can get $493,000 in tips.

Refuting ‘Self-Defense Claim’

Nelson also argued against the self-defense claim put forth by Nachbar.

“He omits that Brandon Lopez was shot squarely in his back,” Nelson said.

He said Lopez was holding the “contraband” marijuana that he got from Vu in his hands. Nelson also told the judge that Vu did not turn himself in, but fled the scene of the shooting, ditched his weapon and initially “fled the jurisdiction” after the incident.

Nelson also told the judge additional weapons were confiscated that allegedly belonged to Vu during the investigation.

“We have the second-most serious charge on the books,” he told the judge, asking Johnson to “not to modify bond.”

Nachbar counter-argued that Vu is innocent until being proven guilty and that there is “nothing illegal about having a large sum of cash.”

“Mr. Vu had held other jobs in the past,” Nachbar said.

Judge Johnson then replied: “The bond that was previously set is appropriate. I will continue the same terms.”

Johnson told the attorneys a scheduling conference will be set to took look at a specific trial date. Court records show a tentative date was set for late July.

The second-degree murder charge carries a penalty of not less than 20 years in prison and a fine of not more than $10,000, or both. The enhanced possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and an $11,000 fine, and the conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Dale Killingbeck can be reached at dale@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Dale Killingbeck