Joe Michael Luna Sentenced to Death in 2005 TX Murder

Started by Guest, March 15, 2006, 10:27:27 AM

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March 15, 2006, 10:27:27 AM Last Edit: March 10, 2010, 09:32:12 PM by Jeff1857

Killer gets wish: Death penalty

A capital murder trial packed with surprises ended Wednesday with jurors giving the defendant what he asked for - the death penalty. The defendant, 26-year-old Joe Michael Luna, had surprised some courthouse observers when he pleaded guilty Feb. 27 to the 2005 robbery and strangulation of Michael Paul Andrade and then when he took the witness stand Monday to confess his crimes and ask jurors to sentence him to death.

During the 8-day trial before 379th District Judge Bert Richardson, Luna confirmed witness testimony that he broke into Andrade's apartment on Potranco Road from the attic. He held the St. Mary's University senior at gunpoint, tied him up, took his valuables and strangled him. He then set fire to the apartment.

The victim's father, Hipolito Andrade, said the death sentence was what the family wanted, but noted there still was a void in their lives.

"We feel vindicated. (His son's death) has impacted a lot of people. I don't know if this is closure," Andrade said.

"We're still in the mourning process. Some days, we get up and we don't want to go on anymore."

In closing statements, prosecutors Mary Green and Loretta Hewitt urged jurors to deliver justice for Andrade and to forget what the defendant was seeking. After jurors handed down the death sentence, Green said it was the appropriate decision.

"This was a person that proved his dangerousness (to society) over and over and over again," Green said. "We're very thankful he has been given the punishment that he so richly deserves."

Though it is rare for capital murder defendants to request they be executed, it isn't unheard of, said Gerald Reamey, a St. Mary's University law school professor.

"There is a certain kind of glamour and notoriety that attaches to capital crimes that doesn't attach to lesser crimes. It puts those convicts at the very top of this peculiar pecking order," Reamey said.

What the defendant doesn't realize, Reamey added, is that death penalty appeals are long and arduous, and they typically involve a bleak existence on death row. In Texas, an inmate stays on death row an average of nearly 10 years, according to state prison statistics.

"There are fewer opportunities for visits because of the extra security that is required," Reamey said. "Year after year, you sit there alone in your cell and you don't have a lot of what other prisoners have, which is hope."

(source: San Antonio Express-News)


Death row inmate presses for new trial
By Craig Kapitan
Updated 1:20 a.m., Saturday, November 17, 2012

Death row inmate Joe Michael Luna, whose 2006 murder trial was cut short when he opted to plead guilty and then testified that he wanted to be executed, returned to a Bexar County courtroom Friday to ask for a new punishment hearing.

Former 379th state District Judge Bert Richardson, who oversaw the trial and now is a visiting judge, also returned to entertain the request. He's expected to send a recommendation to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in December or January after both sides file additional briefs.

Luna, 33, was arrested in 2005 in the slaying of neighbor Michael Paul Andrade, 21, while burglarizing the St. Mary's University student's Potranco Road apartment.

Luna confirmed to jurors six years ago that he tied up Andrade at gunpoint after he was caught in the act of the burglary and strangled him, then set the apartment on fire in an attempt to cover his tracks.

He also admitted to dozens of other crimes, some of which prosecutors said they hadn't known about.

Despite Luna's admissions, the outcome might have been different if his lawyers had been better at presenting mitigating evidence and selecting jurors, appellate attorney Michael Gross suggested.

For instance, he said, evidence never was presented that Luna was molested and physically abused as a child.

According to state law at the time of the offense, jurors would have had two options: the death penalty or life in prison with the possibility of parole.

"Frankly, I would have hoped my mitigation expert would have done a better job," Mario Treviņo, Luna's former attorney, acknowledged at the hearing. Had he known about the molestation allegation, he said: "I would have never allowed that not to come in."

But he and co-counsel Michael Granados had tried multiple death penalty cases and were more than competent, replied Rico Valdez, chief of the district attorney's appellate division.

Luna's defense team had a tough job but responded adequately to their client's surprise revelations to the jury, Valdez suggested.

Psychologist Jack Ferrell, who interviewed Luna in 2009 for the appeal, testified that jurors should have learned more about the defendant's "chaotic" childhood, his mental issues and about how he slipped through the cracks at school.

"From a literary perspective, he was a lost boy," Ferrell said.
I apologize for my not perfect English. Hopefully you understand what I mean. If not - ask me. I will try to explain.


Here a photo of the POS
I apologize for my not perfect English. Hopefully you understand what I mean. If not - ask me. I will try to explain.

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