PA: Prosecutor Was Stabbed 36 Times

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Prosecutor Was Stabbed 36 Times

Unread postby wcrockets » December 5th, 2003, 2:25 pm

Top Stories - AP

Source: Prosecutor Was Stabbed 36 Times
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By BRIAN WITTE, Associated Press Writer

BALTIMORE - A federal prosecutor was apparently "brutalized with multiple stab wounds" and put in the creek where he eventually drowned, a Pennsylvania coroner said Friday.

AP Photo

Jonathan Luna was stabbed 36 times, a federal law enforcement source told The Associated Press.

Luna's vehicle was also smeared with blood on the driver's side door and front fender and was running when a well company worker discovered it early Thursday behind the company's parking lot, about 70 miles from Luna's Baltimore office, according to a search warrant affidavit filed by a Pennsylvania State Police investigator.

A "large pool of blood" was on the floorboard in front of the car's passenger's seat, and money and cell phone equipment were found scattered throughout the interior, the affidavit said. The 38-year-old assistant U.S. attorney's body was found in the creek nearby.

No weapon was recovered, but the stab wounds were superficial or shallow and could have been caused by a penknife, Lancaster County, Pa., coroner Dr. Barry Walp said. He said Luna was dressed in a business suit and overcoat, and still had his wallet, with identification and cash.

Authorities had yet to determine a motive behind Luna's killing, a federal law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Friday. The official said investigators were interviewing people connected with past cases Luna prosecuted, as well as friends and associates.

Among the last people to talk to the young prosecutor was a defense lawyer who had spent the day working out a plea agreement for a client Luna was prosecuting.

Arcangelo Tuminelli, an attorney for Walter Oriley Poindexter, 28, said he saw Luna at 6 p.m. Wednesday after they had reached an agreement.

Poindexter and aspiring rapper Deon Lionnel Smith, 32, were accused of dealing heroin and running a violent drug ring from their Stash House Records studio. Both pleaded guilty Thursday, Smith to distribution of heroin and a weapon charge, and Poindexter to distribution of heroin to a government witness.

Tuminelli said Friday that Poindexter was interviewed by the FBI (news - web sites) on Thursday, and Smith had consented to be interviewed. Both men were behind bars at the time of the killing.

"They were interested in if he had any information that might shed some light on Jonathan Luna. Not surprising to me, he had absolutely no info that would be of help to them," Tuminelli said. "I believe that this has nothing to do with my client or Mr. Smith or the case (Luna) was working on."

Luna had recently prosecuted other cases, as well, including three men involved in a violent crack distribution network in Baltimore area, and a man who plotted to burn down a home to force six Mexican men out of a neighborhood.

Initially, there were conflicting reports on Luna's whereabouts on the last night of his life.

A federal law enforcement official, speaking Friday on condition of anonymity, said authorities had determined Luna left his home early in the evening for his office to work on papers in the plea bargain. He disappeared after leaving his office around midnight, the official said.

Tuminelli said he got a call from Luna's cell phone at 9:06 p.m., according to his caller ID.

"We spoke for about five minutes, and he told me he had pretty much completed the written plea agreement for Mr. Smith and now he had to do Mr. Poindexter," Tuminelli said. "He wanted to make sure that he didn't have any mistakes in what we had agreed to."

He said Luna told him he had to go home, but that he would go back to the office later. It was unclear where Luna was when he called, he said.

"I assumed he wouldn't get back to the office until 10 p.m.," Tuminelli said. "I assumed there would be a fax at my house of the agreement by about midnight."

The fax never came, Tuminelli said.

Records showed that Luna was in the federal courthouse as late as 11:30 p.m., according to a source who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The source said personal items were left in Luna's office that one "would have expected him to be taking home had he been leaving to go home for the evening." The source declined to describe the items.

FBI spokesman Barry Maddox said agents were working at the crime scene Friday.

"We're definitely going to pursue this thing aggressively and will continue to do so," Maddox said.

Luna, who had two children, was known as a champion of the disadvantaged, and often wrote letters to the editor on behalf of minorities and the poor.

U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr., who presided over the drug case, described him as a "wonderful young man, responsible, charming and highly intelligent. He had genuine trial skills as a lawyer and juries loved him."

Attorney General John Ashcroft (news - web sites) called it a "tragic death."

"I express our deepest condolences to Jonathan's family, colleagues and friends," Ashcroft said. "We share his family's grief and will provide any support and assistance to help them through this difficult time."


Associated Press Writers Pete Yost in Washington, D.C., Wiley Hall and Foster Klug in Baltimore and Mark Scolforo in Brecknock Township, Pa., contributed to this report.

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