Luna receives life sentence, no possibility of parole
TRIGG COUNTY, Ky. - It was shortly after noon Monday when the jurors filed back into Circuit Court.
After five years, two trials, and 24 jurors, the fate of George Luna was just moments away.
Judge Dennis Foust first read the jury's decision on the charge of murder, "Confinement in the penitentiary."
"Without the benefit of probation or parole," he continued.
On the charge of arson, the jury recommended a 20 year sentence. The judge ruled for those sentences to be run concurrently.
Last Friday, that same jury had convicted George Luna, 42, on murder and arson charges for the 2007 death of Debra Hendrickson. Hendrickson, according to investigators, had been killed by blunt force trauma to the head before her mobile home was set on fire. Those investigators testified last week the crime had been the work of Luna. They said he was furious Hendrickson, a friend he had been living with, refused to help him commit insurance fraud.
A previous jury found Luna guilty on the same counts, but that conviction was thrown out on appeal.
This time, Luna did not react. But, the family of Debra Hendrickson was overcome with emotion. It was the opportunity to heal, one that her niece told the jury, never really was an option.
"Her body was burned so bad the casket was closed. So, we never got to see her, that's been the hardest for my family because you don't even get that final goodbye," Ashley Browning had testified.
Before ruling on Luna's fate, the jury also heard from his family.
"He took care of me, he was my protector," his younger sister, Deborah Thornton remembered.
But it was Thornton protecting her brother Monday as she begged for mercy, "He can't change the past but I know in my heart he wants a chance to make his life right."
His mother, Gretchen Luna, testified the family had lived a good life saying in part, "It just went wrong, terribly wrong."
She told the jury he was a good father who deserved the chance to see his 3 children grow.
She said of his youngest daughter, "She's afraid she won't have a father to walk down the aisle with her. It's really difficult."
But Deborah Hendrickson, prosecuting attorney Jim Prather told the jury, did not get a second chance at life. Luna, he said, did. He was arrested for the crime back in 2007 while he was on probation and he received a second trial.
"He's had his chance, he does not deserve another one," Prather said.
The jury agreed. After less than 90 minutes of deliberations, they recommended a life sentence with no possibility of parole.
In 2008 he was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole. Based on eligibility, it means Luna could have been free in 2025.
Luna's defense team tells Local 6 they were 'disappointed' by Monday's outcome and plan on filing an appeal.