Curious Cases: The Demise of Jonathan Luna. : ThyBlackMan

Sunday, December 16, 2018


Curious Cases: The Demise of Jonathan Luna.

November 20, 2018 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) I’m a true crime fanatic. Unsolved mysteries and the like fascinate me not in the often grisly result but in how someone could go through with it and the lead up to doing these crimes. Usually, they’re not simply random occurrences with no story.

What makes these cases even more interesting is when evidence doesn’t fit and the conclusion reached makes you go “Okay, what the f*** just happened?” One case that always had me scratching my head was the death of Assistant U.S. Attorney, Jonathan Luna, a young Black prosecutor with endless potential for something greater.

This man was a graduate of Fordham and the University of North Carolina’s Law School. He worked for the Federal Trade Commission into the late 1990s and then in his native New York as Brooklyn prosecutor. He wasn’t even forty and still had a lot of career and life left.

Before I get into the case, I want to give a bit of disclaimer. Mr. Luna’s final day was violent. I won’t get graphic or colorful with the details.

Lead Up to Jonathan Luna’s Death

Luna had been tasked with a particularly messy case involving two traffickers dealing drugs out of a recording studio. One of the traffickers had a murder charge and Luna looked primed to put him away. Deals between Luna and the defense were going decently except for the murder which was drug-related.

Eventually, deals were struck and Luna got to work on them. He was scheduled back in court at 9:30 AM to finish off the case. A little before midnight on December 3, 2003, Luna left his office—without his phone and glasses—and climbed into his vehicle.

He called the defense attorneys and let them know he’d fax the documents over in the morning. They would remain unfinished and were never sent by Luna.

It’s unknown what happened between leaving the courthouse and getting into the car but he ended up driving 95 miles from Baltimore, Maryland to Denver, Pennsylvania. Along the way, he used his pass at several tolls and eventually withdrew $200 at a gas station in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania a little after 3 AM. He reached his destination of Denver by 4 AM and was found an hour later.

An Unexplained Ending

The first thing is that this was an assistant U.S. attorney, they were the law. Alarm bells were going off. While alarming, what was more alarming was the way he was found.

Luna’s car was found at a well drilling firm and looked as though he had driven it into a shallow creek. When he was discovered by a worker, Jonathan Luna was found to have been stabbed over 30 times. He’d also been slashed several times and discovered underneath the car’s engine. The worker also noticed blood on the outside of the car.

So, at first blush you’d think “Someone did that to him,” right? I’d say you’re right. One could say it was suicide by drowning if the creek wasn’t shallow and he didn’t have all of those stab wounds. While no else was found in relation to the murder, he couldn’t have driven himself there…from Maryland, before midnight 95 miles, sans glasses which he needed to drive.

Also, the person who took his toll ticket before he entered Denver noticed blood on it meaning he was already hurt. So, Luna—known for being one of the most professional and polite prosecutors in Baltimore—would do all of this when he was prosecuting a big, make or break case. An investigation also found blood on the backseat, an unidentified fingerprint, and unidentified blood which points to a kidnapping angle.

Police Conclusion

Police originally looked at this and went “Yeah, that’s homicide.” The FBI tried to get the pathologist to change the cause of death to suicide but this guy was pretty specific about what happened in his write up.

He noted that the wounds inflicted were “consistent with torture” and also pointed out that Jonathan Luna had defensive wounds on his hands. This goes along with the unidentified blood in the car. County police stood with the homicide finding but before long it was changed to suicide.

Then came the allegations about how he was $25,000 in the hole for online dating and looking for sex partners. Also, he was said to be involved in $36,000 that turned up missing from evidence and had a come up on $10,000. Needless to say, Luna was really painted as a corrupt deviant in fear for his job.

Thus, Luna had means to commit suicide…even if none of this points suicide attempt. If it was, it was the most involved, botched, prolonged, painful attempt in Maryland history.

One thing I found interesting was the attendant at the Sonoco where Luna withdrew the $200 said that he had to have been driving with someone and didn’t know he was going to be killed. I believe he didn’t know his killers but he was known to them.

I also believe that the plea agreement Luna struck was far from favorable. Those two heroin dealers were looking at some time. If the deals were actually good or manageable why would Luna end up dead?

Aftermath

Unfortunately, no one was ever held responsible for his death—still ruled a suicide, mind you. Also, the traffickers ended up with favorable sentences. After another U.S. attorney completed the unfinished plea agreements and they were accepted by the presiding judge.

Deon Smith, the owner of the recording studio, was looking at 27 years and was sentenced to a little over nine in March 2004. He was put in minimum security. Meanwhile, Walter Poindexter, charged with murder, was supposed to get 60 years but got 14 in medium security.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.


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