No-contest plea in stabbing means man likely to be deported

May 11, 2004|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A no-contest plea by a man charged in an attempted homicide case may soon mean freedom - and deportation - for another man.

Paulino Zarate Luna, 35, no fixed address, entered a no-contest plea Monday to aggravated assault in exchange for attempted homicide and related charges being dismissed, according to the Franklin County District Attorney's Office.

Although not charged with a criminal offense, Victor Luna Delgado, an illegal alien, has been held as a material witness in the case. Delgado, who has no fixed address, is being held on a detainer by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to await deportation.


Luna was charged with the Jan. 10 stabbing of Roberto Morales on the 15000 block of Buchanan Trail East in Washington Township, according to the affidavit of probable cause. Morales was stabbed twice in the back, twice in the arm and once in the abdomen, according to court records.

Delgado was charged with simple assault, but that charge was dismissed, Assistant District Attorney Angela Krom told Judge Douglas W. Herman at a March 29 hearing on the motion to detain him as a material witness to the stabbing.

Krom said at the hearing that holding Delgado as a material witness was the only way to assure he would not be deported before Luna was tried. Herman ordered Delgado held on $750,000 bond.

Herman made the order effective up to July 12 to allow for Delgado to testify or give a deposition that could be used if Luna's case went to trial.

"Now that it's resolved, I think someone needs to cut him loose post-haste," Franklin County Public Defender Michael Toms said Monday of Delgado, who is being held in York (Pa.) County Prison. Toms said he is concerned that Delgado is being held on high bail without any criminal charges.

"I can't recall any bail by the court of common pleas that was greater than that," Toms said.

Toms said he has asked the Franklin County District Attorney's office to have the material witness detainer rescinded. If that does not happen later this week, Toms said he will file a motion for reduction of bail.

"If the bail is lifted ... he might not see any immediate change in his status," Toms said.

Delgado could remain in York County Prison until deportation proceedings are completed.

Luna faces a maximum of 10 years in prison on the aggravated assault charge, a second-degree felony. His sentencing is scheduled for June 16, according to court records.

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