A prosecutor said Friday that a 32-year-old man will die in prison for killing his son's mother, despite the Pasco suspect's claims he was acting in self-defense.
Gregorio Luna Luna now is charged with aggravated first-degree murder for the May 2010 death of his former girlfriend, Griselda Ocampo Meza.
He has pleaded innocent in Franklin County Superior Court.
Since prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty for the aggravated charge, the only other sentencing option is life in prison without possibility of release.
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Former Franklin County Prosecutor Steve Lowe warned defense attorneys a year ago that he would amend the charge if plea negotiations were not successful.
So Friday, with Luna Luna's trial set to start in one month, special prosecutor Andy Miller said he was following through with those intentions.
Miller, who is the Benton County prosecutor, and Anita Petra, his deputy, were appointed to the case because of a conflict with the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office.
Petra, in a rare request, also filed a motion Friday to get confidential documents related to Ocampo Meza's possible visit to a domestic violence shelter in Richland.
Because Luna Luna's lawyers informed the court he will be claiming self-defense, the prosecutors argued they will show the couple had a history of domestic violence.
In an interview last week with one of Ocampo Meza's neighbors, prosecutors learned the victim may have been treated for domestic violence-related injuries at a number of medical facilities, including Lourdes Medical Center and Grace Clinic. They are trying to get Ocampo Meza's medical records from those visits, Miller said.
The neighbor also said Ocampo Meza may have spent some time in a shelter to get away from Luna Luna, so Petra said she would like to know if there is anything in that file that could be relevant.
Petra pointed out that there is no procedure in place for how to get those domestic violence records since the request is uncommon.
Judge Robert Swisher, who granted the order, said the documents should be sent in a sealed envelope to him. He will review them "to protect the privacy of the victim and the shelter" before deciding if the documents are of value to the case.
Swisher will announce his decision at the next court hearing.
Ocampo Meza and Luna Luna were together seven years and had a son together when she ended the relationship in January 2010.
She filed her first of two requests for a protection order in February 2010 after a series of alleged assaults by Luna Luna.
"He threaten(ed) me that he is going to come back and kill or make my life miserable," Ocampo Meza wrote. "I fear that he will kill. He has tried 2 times before. I fear for my life and son."
A two-year order was granted, telling Luna Luna to stay away from his ex-girlfriend and his son and to not commit any "acts of abuse."
While sitting in the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma awaiting a deportation hearing, Luna Luna allegedly wrote threatening letters to Ocampo Meza stating, "He was going to finish the job," court documents show.
Luna Luna was sent back to Mexico on May 1, 2010, but recrossed the border sometime in the following 22 days. He stole a car from a Snohomish friend May 23, drove to the Tri-Cities, confronted Ocampo Meza that night at a Kennewick restaurant, and hours later broke into her Pasco apartment, documents show.
Ocampo Meza reportedly had changed the locks since Luna Luna moved out earlier in the year, but he allegedly took a key from her roommates as they left for work before 4 a.m.
The former couple fought long enough for their 5-year-old son to be rushed out of the home by Ocampo Meza's new boyfriend before she was stabbed once in the chest with a kitchen knife, court documents said.
Ocampo Meza, 21, died before she could get to a hospital. Luna Luna was arrested 11 hours later at a vacant east Pasco home, but didn't believe she was dead until a detective showed him pictures of her body.
Luna Luna has been in the Franklin County jail on $5 million bail. He has sent four letters to Judge Swisher asking for new lawyers, claiming Shelley Ajax and Karla Kane are being negligent in representing him.
"I have been put under a lot of pressure when I have been asked to sign something," Luna Luna told Swisher on Friday when asked about the most recent letter. He spoke through interpreter Ana Armijo. "I have been told to do something at the moment I'm being asked, and in reality the decisions I have had to make were bad or against me."
Swisher pointed out that there is nothing in the court file signed by Luna Luna. He also said there is nothing to reflect abandonment by the lawyers, but rather that they have been actively working for him.
"I understand Mr. Luna Luna is under a great deal of pressure. Living in the Franklin County jail, well, it's not like a vacation," Swisher said, noting that Luna Luna has been in custody well over a year. "... So I understand that would be a difficulty, just living it would put pressure on someone."
Swisher said if he ordered a change in the defense team, Luna Luna would be in the county facility for at least six more months while the new attorneys get up to speed on the case and prepare for trial.
"I do understand Mr. Luna Luna's frustration because he is the one locked up now," said the judge, who denied Luna Luna's request.