A rapidly rising star, Jonathan Luna was an Assistant D.A who died very early. The events leading up to his demise left more questions than answers.
Born and raised in the South Bronx to a Black mother and a Filipino father, Jonathan Luna finished his studies at Fordham University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
He started his legal career in 1993 with the Arnold & Porter law firm in D.C. and would stay there before working for the Federal Trade Commission in 1994. After his time with the FTC, he served as a prosecutor in Brooklyn for three years.
Luna was seen as an extremely respectful and professional attorney by his peers. He was also viewed as effective at his job—perhaps too effective considering the case that probably led to his end.
LUNA’S FINAL FEDERAL CASE
At the time of his death, Jonathan Luna had been Assistant District Attorney of Baltimore since 1999. In early December 2003, he was in the thick of a particularly roughly drug case that was about to blur the line between upholding the law and bending it until it broke.
Walter O. Poindexter and Deon Lionel Smith were brought up on heroin charges. They were captured as a result of evidence provided by Baltimore drug dealer Warren Grace. To get information, the FBI gave Grace quite a bit of leeway as he repeatedly broke conditions that kept informants out of prison.
Grace was the prosecution’s main witness but because of his violations, Luna’s aim of putting Poindexter and Smith away was snuffed. On December 3, Luna talked with defense attorneys in a bid to get plea deals. He worked on the conditions of the plea deals into the night before leaving his office sometime before midnight.
THE MISSING THOUSANDS
Prior to the drug case, there was a 2002 bank robbery case Luna helped handle. After the case ended, $36,000 of the evidence money came up missing. Luna was one of the suspects as he was responsible for the money. Even after his death, no one was arrested for the theft.
This case ties into Luna’s death since police revealed that Luna was having money problems to the tune of $25,000 of credit card debt. It was also noted that Luna came into $10,000 after the $36,000 went missing with no explanation of its origin.
Around this time, it was also claimed that Luna frequented dating sites. In the deaths of individuals of note, when these kinds of claims are made, it tends to get both the rumor mill and the conspiracy machine rolling. It also led to the theory that Luna committed suicide.
DECEMBER 4, 2003
On December 3, 2003, Jonathan Luna was putting together the plea deal for Poindexter and Smith. Why he left his office at 11:38 PM is never actually explained, but he did leave his eyeglasses and phone before leaving the garage. This is crucial because Luna needed his glasses
Jonathan Luna’s final journey saw him arrive in Newark, DE where he pulled $200 from an ATM at 1 AM. He drove through New Jersey afterwards. A bloodstained toll ticket showed him arriving in Pennsylvania just past 4 AM. The blood on the ticket showed that Luna had been injured prior to when his body was found.
Warning, the conclusion features an explanation of Jonathan Luna’s wounds. With respect to him and his family, I will omit the most graphic details which can be found in the source for this entry.
DISCOVERY OF LUNA
The hour between when he arrived and when his body was found in Denver, PA is mired in mystery. At 5:30 AM, a Senseing & Weaver Well Drilling employee found Jonathan Luna’s Honda Accord over a creek with the engine still running. There was blood on the front, the passenger’s seat on the driver’s side, and driver’s side door.
Luna was found underneath the car, face down in the water with ID card still on. Following an examination of his body, it was shown that he had over 30 stab wounds with some to the back. Also his hands were described as having numerous cuts—perhaps defensive wounds. Luna’s throat was also cut.
Dr. Barry Walp, at the time the Lancaster County coroner, found that it was a homicide by drowning. However, in an investigation of the scene, police eventually found what they believed to be the murder weapon—Luna’s pocket knife.
Going back to the missing $36,000 from 2002, one theory was that Jonathan Luna was stressed by his debt and committed suicide. The coroner that took over after Dr. Walp, Dr. G. Gary Kirchner, was rumored to have been pushed towards marking the death as a suicide. Since he didn’t, Luna’s death remains an open investigation almost 14 years later.
-Who Killed Jonathan Luna (Lancaster Online): lancasteronline.com/elanco/news/who-killed-jonathan-luna-a-decade-later-federal-prosecutor-s/article_362ae867-53cc-5da3-a56b-d3bdefd54927.html
-Case 09: Jonathan Luna (Case File): casefilepodcast.com/case-09-jonathan-luna/