A Guilty Plea from an Odessa Man Accused of Killing Pregnant Girlfriend and Her Mother will escape Death Row

by Jacqueline Sit
NewsWest 9

Emotions were running high in court for the victim's family earlier today when the plea deal was announced.  The prosecutor tells NewsWest Nine this option to give Leo Luna a life sentence instead of the death penalty is in the best interest of the victim's family.

"Leo Angel Luna plead guilty to life in prison without parole and we removed the death penalty as an option," Bobby Bland, the Ector County District Attorney said.

Ector County D. A. Bobby Bland says the deal was made because of recent turnovers in death penalty cases during the appeal's process.  A recent example, the case of Micheal Dean Gonzales who was sentenced to death row 12 years ago.

"Now we're having to retry him and that's a hardship for the family so I need to make sure that the decision that we make in this case would take into consideration what the family would go through," Bland said.

But some of the victim's family says Luna's life sentence is a slap on the hand.  They say Luna showed no emotions in court today and didn't even look at them.  They go on to say their family members don't have the choice to breathe again and Luna shouldn't either.

"The family for the most part was supportive even though those who seem to disagree understand at the time why we're doing what we're doing," Bland said.

Luna pleaded guilty to killing his pregnant girlfriend Diana Ponce, her mother Blanca Ponce and shooting his brother in law William Ponce in the face back in December 2005, because of his plea, there will be no trial.

"An attorney never likes to just give up and surrender and that's part of the feeling I have today, but I also think it's the best possible solution for Leo Luna," David Zavoda, Leo Luna's Defense Attorney, said.

Leo Luna will be spending the rest of his life behind bars.

"Even though he will be spending the rest of his life in prison, he can make something of his life and be useful to other people and be useful to the society in which he's going to live," Zavoda said.

"He will not get time for parole or anything, he will die in prison it just won't be at the state's hands," Bland said.

Leo Luna and Diana Ponce also had a three year old son.  He now lives with Ponce's family.
William Ponce, who suffered serious injuries in that attack a year and a half ago is back in school and said to be doing okay.  The rest of the victim's family mentioned in this letter to NewsWest Nine that they are now ready to put this behind them and start the healing process.