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Monday, December 08, 2003  

Prosecutor's murder reveals flip side of Internet

The story has a made-for-TV quality. Bad guys, a rapper and his sidekick, who also are drug dealers, have supposedly had the lead prosecutor in their heroin dealing case kidnapped and murdered.

WASHINGTON - Jonathan Luna, a federal prosecutor in Baltimore whose bloody body was found in rural Pennsylvania, had been stabbed 36 times and may have been tortured before he was thrown into a rural creek to drown, officials said Friday.

Luna's body was discovered near the town of Ephrata, south of Reading, Pa., Thursday morning, just hours before he was scheduled to appear in court in Baltimore, 70 miles away, in the case of a rapper accused of running a violent heroin ring.

At some Internet forums, commenters are already calling for the death penalty for the drug dealing rapper, Deon Smith, and his associate, Walter Poindexter -- if they willing to allow a trial. But, there is a problem -- this movie of the week storyline that appeals to many people's preconceptions may not be true.

Federal prosecutor Jonathan Luna traveled several times in recent months to the area of Pennsylvania where his body was found, and authorities were not immediately aware of any work-related business that would have taken him to the region, The Associated Press learned Sunday.

Investigators also were looking into a credit card Luna held without his wife's knowledge and into postings of messages by someone who went by the name of Jonathan Luna in Web sites where people advertise for female sex partners, according to a federal law enforcement official who spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity.

Baltimore FBI spokesman Larry Foust said Sunday that investigators were still trying to determine a motive for Luna's killing. His body was found Thursday, stabbed 36 times and left face down in a creek.

"This is a full-court press, but we just don't know. There's a lot of information and a lot of misinformation out there," Foust said. "We have people working nonstop, overturning every stone, going where the facts lead them."

Investigators now doubt the murder is related to the case. In fact, there seems to be little motive for the rapper and his friend to have the prosecutor killed. They entered guilty pleas before Luna disappeared.

Many commenters online are sure the defendants in the recent case are responsible for the murder, though.

What kind of message does his death send in the rap community and Baltimore's streets? Drugs are rampant all over this country. I hope the police finds the person and gives he/she the death penalty - or worse. Amateur rappers killing a "federal" prosecutor. I think even other rappers are calling these guys idiots. What did ordering this hit accomplish ... nothing. Anyone who thinks these rappers had nothing to do with this death is an idiot!!!!

State Police and Feds need to show up at "the Hampden studio of the ... upstart music label, Stash House Records and work a little back-door street justice to find out who did this.

Identify the killer(s), hunt them down, and destroy them.

They believe they know what happened because of who the parties are -- black hoods who produced rap and sold heroin and the son of a Filipino immigrant who had always worked as a prosecutor. In other words, their stereotypical assumptions must be accurate. Perhaps people like these don't understand human nature, which is often complex. If they did, they would know there is nothing to preclude Luna having become entangled in personal problems that resulted in his death, which is what investigators now suspect. When the idea the prosecutor may have been killed by a lover or someone else with a personal conflict with him was raised at the Baltimore Sun's forum, some commenters became apoplectic. They either dismissed the suggestion as an insult to Luna and his family or said that if its true, the media should not report that story. Yes, you heard me right. They believe that if the man died as the result of a personal relationship gone awry, the story should be suppressed.

Often, the Internet is hailed as a method of dispensing useful and accurate information. However, when I observe the kind of puerile and biased commentary that occurs in episodes like this one, I wonder if the bumper crop of bad information disseminated on the Net buries the good.

10:47 AM