Luna Receives Life Sentence

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On Friday, in the first jury trial since the onset of COVID-19, Pete Jerry Luna was convicted and received a life sentence for the continuous sexual abuse of a child.
With a history of previous sexual abuse, Luna began his incarceration as the result of an aggravated sexual abuse of a child charge in nearly 30 years ago. In 1991, Pete Luna admitted to the abuse of his former girlfriend’s eight-year-old daughter. After serving a decade in the Texas Department of Corrections, Luna returned to Navarro County.
In March of 2018, Navarro County Sheriff’s Office issued a new warrant for Luna’s arrest for Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child, a charge that has only been in effect since 2007. Assigned to the case, Sergeant Jeff Harbuck of NCSO Criminal Investigations Division began the process of locating Luna. Sergeant Harbuck was unable to make physical contact with Luna and in October 2018, Corsicana Police issued a warrant for his arrest for Failure to Register as Sex Offender. NCSO Sheriff Elmer Tanner stated, “I believe the key to a successful prosecution begins with the initial investigation. I am proud of the job Sergeant Harbuck did while investigating this case and working together with our District Attorney’s Office to achieve a successful prosecution. Hopefully this outcome will bring some closure and justice for the victim.”
The Texas Department of Public Safety placed Luna on the Texas Top Ten Most Wanted Sex Offenders list, due to the severity of his charges, in December 2018. At this time Texas DPS additionally requested the assistance of the United States Marshal-led East Texas Fugitive Task Force (JETF) to locate and apprehend Pete Luna. During this investigation, detectives and investigators believed Luna had fled to the Port Lavaca area. Reaching out to the Gulf Coast Violent Offender and Fugitive Task Force (GCVOFTF), the JETF informed them of his probable location. The task force spotted a man matching Luna’s description leaving a Port Lavaca apartment complex. The task force consisted of law enforcement officers from the United States Marshal’s office, Victoria Police Department, Texas DPS, Corpus Christi Police Department, and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Office of the Inspector General.
After investigators determined the driver of the vehicle was Pete Luna, he was taken into custody immediately and was extradited back to Navarro County, where he has remained at the Navarro County Justice Center with $150,000 in bonds, since April 2019.
Lead prosecutors for the case were Navarro County ADA Andrew Wolf and ADA Sherry Shumer. During the course of the week-long trial, ADA Wolf sought to disallow the one witness the defense was planning to call. District Judge James Lagomarsino agreed to disallow the witness, due to his lack of qualification of child forensic interviews.
The jury trial began last Monday and after compelling closing arguments, a guilty verdict was reached after a one hour and forty-minute deliberation between jury members. After jury members were dismissed, Judge Lagomarsino stated, “Thank you for your service. Jury duty is tough, no matter the circumstances.”
During the punishment phase, which began immediately, the defendant agreed ‘true’ to the 1992 case, which escalated the punishment to a mandatory life sentence. Luna has the right to appeal, and likely will as it was mentioned by the defendant’s attorney, Damara Watkins.
Navarro County District Attorney Will Thompson stated, in a press release on Friday afternoon, “Today a Navarro County jury found Pete Jerry Luna guilty of Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child Under 14. This was the first jury trial since the courts stopped conducting jury trials in 2020 due to Covid restrictions. The State was represented by First Assistant District Attorney Andrew Wolf and ADA Sherry Shumer, but it was really a team effort that included work by the Navarro County Sheriff’s Office and the Navarro County Child Advocacy Center as well. I would also like to thank the Buffalo Creek Chapter of BACA (Bikers Against Child Abuse) for their support and helping the victim of this heinous crime find the courage to tell her story in court. Mr. Wolf is a skilled trial lawyer with extensive experience in prosecuting crimes against children and he led the team in presenting a lot of evidence in a way that was clearly impactful for the jury. Mr. Luna was convicted of Sexual Assault of a Child in 1992 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Due to that prior conviction, Texas law required a sentence of life in prison upon his conviction today. This case should send a message that there will be severe consequences for those who choose to victimize our children.”
Luna will remain at the Navarro County Justice Center until he is transported to the TDCJ prison he is assigned.

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