He Was Shot, Stabbed
By BRIAN WITTE, The Associated Press
BALTIMORE - A federal prosecutor was found shot and stabbed to death
in a Pennsylvania creek Thursday after failing to show up at the
trial of a rapper and another man accused of dealing heroin.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan P. Luna, 38, was discovered
face-down in the water behind the parking lot of a well-drilling
company in Lancaster County, Pa., about 70 miles from Baltimore,
Brecknock Township police said. A car was near the body, police said.
"Let there be no doubt. Let there be no doubt that everyone in law
enforcement, local police, state police, the United States Marshals
Service, ATF, FBI (news - web sites), are united," U.S. Attorney
Thomas DiBiagio said. "We will find out who did this and we are
dedicated to bringing the person responsible for this tragedy to
Luna was prosecuting Baltimore rapper Deon Lionnel Smith, 32, and
Walter Oriley Poindexter, 28, who were accused of dealing heroin and
running a violent drug ring from their Stash House Records studio.
Authorities did not say whether the two men are under suspicion in
the slaying. They were behind bars at the time.
Luna and the defense attorneys negotiated through the afternoon
Wednesday and reached a plea bargain on the drug charges at the end
of the day, said U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr., who
presided over the case. The men entered their guilty pleas around
Smith pleaded guilty to distribution of heroin and possession of a
weapon for the purposes of drug trafficking. Poindexter pleaded
guilty to distribution of heroin to a government witness.
Luna was supposed to be in court Thursday when they entered their
pleas, but he failed to show and the FBI began looking for him.
His body was found around daybreak not far from an exit on the
Pennsylvania Turnpike. He had been repeatedly stabbed and shot.
Luna was married and had two children. He grew up in New York City,
attended Fordham University and went on to law school at the
University of North Carolina.
He was an attorney at the Federal Trade Commission from 1994 until
1997. He then worked as a prosecutor in Brooklyn before coming to
The judge described Luna 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
Smith's attorney, Kenneth Ravenell, called Luna a "a good friend."
"I was kind of his mentor in many ways," Ravenell said. "He'd call me
often and discuss things outside of what we did on cases."
During opening statements in the trial, Ravenell urged jurors to
separate what they have heard about rap music from the trial.
"I suspect that what a lot of you know about rap music is what you
hear on the radio or see on the TV, and a lot of that's not good," he
said. "But Mr. Smith isn't on trial for being part of the rap
He said that as Smith tried to build a legitimate career in the music
business, he made the mistake of failing to cut his ties with
criminal associates from his past.
Smith recorded under the name Papi Jenkinz, but his recording
business closed in the spring after the arrest.
The charges against Smith carry up to 25 years in prison, and those
against Poindexter carry up to 60 years.
Luna had also prosecuted cases against a man who videotaped a
neighbor child as she slept in her home and against a man who plotted
to burn down a home to force six Mexican men out of a neighborhood.
Luna also tried three men involved in a violent crack distribution
network in Baltimore. All the defendants entered guilty pleas.
Other federal prosecutors have been the target of violence in the past.
Federal prosecutor Crane Wales was shot to death in Seattle three
years ago in an unsolved murder. The search for the killer has
focused on at least one of the cases he had prosecuted.
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Federal prosecutor Larry Barcella, now in private practice, was the
target of a thwarted murder-for-hire scheme by ex-CIA (news - web
sites) agent Edwin Wilson, whom Barcella had put behind bars for
selling weapons and explosives to Libya.