Polygraph Loomed For Md. Lawyer
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Federal prosecutor Jonathan P. Luna, whose death has confounded authorities for two years, was asked to take a lie detector test in connection with about $36,000 in missing evidence shortly before he was found stabbed and drowned in rural Pennsylvania, according to several sources familiar with the investigation.
The previously undisclosed polygraph examination sheds new light on the investigation into the Baltimore prosecutor's death, one of the region's most enduring mysteries. The sources said some investigators view the looming polygraph test as support for the theory that Luna -- whose body was found two years ago this month with 36 stab wounds, most of them superficial -- took his own life. The sources asked not to be identified because the case remains open.
It has fueled speculation, in particular, that he might have killed himself accidentally. Under that theory, Luna might have been trying to stave off the polygraph and generate sympathy by staging an abduction but went too far by nicking an artery or crucial vein.
In the weeks before his death, Luna at least once postponed his scheduled examination, citing his workload, one of the sources said.
The source said investigators discovered after Luna's death that more than $10,000 came into his possession shortly after evidence from a bank robbery case he was prosecuting disappeared. The source said investigators could not determine conclusively how Luna might have obtained the money.
Vickie E. LeDuc, spokeswoman for the Maryland U.S. attorney's office, declined to comment last night. Barry Maddox, an FBI spokesman, reiterated yesterday that the agency has not determined whether Luna committed suicide or was the victim of a homicide. A massive investigation into Luna's death turned up no evidence that he was with anyone between the time he left his Baltimore office late one evening and the discovery of his body six hours later, the FBI said a year ago.
Yet the Lancaster County, Pa., coroner's office has ruled the death of Luna, a 38-year-old father of two, a homicide. Luna's parents, who declined to comment for this article, have said they do not believe their son took his own life, as have some of his friends and former co-workers.
Many people who are thought to have had access to the missing cash, including building custodians and the assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case with Luna in September 2002, took polygraph tests.
Luna's fellow prosecutor in the robbery case, Jacabed Rodriguez-Coss, confirmed that she submitted to a polygraph in late October 2003 and said Luna did not express reservations about taking the test. "I know he was willing to take one," said Rodriguez-Coss, who is now an assistant U.S. attorney in Puerto Rico.
Rodriguez-Coss said she was convinced that Luna had nothing to do with the missing money, and she said she does not believe he committed suicide, citing in part the number of stab wounds found on his body.
"I can never see Jonathan ever committing suicide," she said. "He was a man who loved his family and loved his children and would have never abandoned them."
Shortly before dawn Dec. 4, 2003, Luna's body was found off a rural road in Brecknock Township, Pa., about 100 miles northeast of the U.S. attorney's office in Baltimore. His silver Honda Accord, its engine idling, was found nearby.