In what's referred to as a  Reference Hearing, which is rare in legal circles, a convicted Pasco murderer now claims he didn't fully understand he was potentially facing a life sentence for his crimes.

In Franklin County Superior Court this week, 37-year-old Gregorio Luna Luna is now claiming this week he thought Prosecutor Andy Miller was 'joking' about his possibly serving a life sentence for stabbing Griselda Ocampo Meza, 21, through the heart May 24, 2010.

The two had a troubled relationship, and after Meza ended it in January 2010, confrontations continued. Luna was deported to Mexico in early May of that year, and returned to the Tri-Cities, leading to the confrontation that killed her.

In August 2014, he lost his appeal to have his sentence overturned, but then he filed what's called a Personal Restraint Petition and according to the Tri-City Herald, is seeking to have his conviction overturned.

In short, he is claiming he fully didn't understand the ramifications of possibly serving a life sentence if he rejected a guilty murder plea bargain that would put him behind bars for 35 years.  According to Prosecutor Andy Miller who presided over the sentencing in 2012, Luna was made fully aware of what would happen if he rejected the plea. Much of Luna's defense is based upon language barriers between English and Spanish.

While other people involved in the case say they repeatedly talked with him in Spanish and explained what was happening, Luna apparently steadfastly refused to admit to the crime. He claimed in the trial it was self-defense. He also said in court this week he thought Prosecutor Miller's warning of a life sentence was a 'joke.'

Now the court must decide if this new petition, and this new information, is enough to overturn the conviction. The petition claims his civil rights were violated because he was not provided written Spanish translations of his charging documents, and his council was ineffective.

The court has yet to render a verdict as of Thursday.


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