Lufkin Whataburger robber turns down plea deal, pleads guilty

Joel Luna
Joel Luna
Eva Luna
Eva Luna

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Jena Johnson - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Joel Luna is a repeat offender by court standards. By his mother's standards he's made a few mistakes and needs another chance.

"Under the influence," Eva Luna said. "It wasn't them. It was a mistake."

Eva Luna says her son was high on drugs the night he robbed a Whataburger. Monday afternoon, he rejected a plea bargain, leaving his punishment in the judge's hands after he pleaded guilty to the crime. She says her son is a changed man. She hopes the judge will see him in the same light.

"My son has changed a lot," Eva Luna said. "It's just that the public doesn't accept it well. It's hard for him to get a job. It's hard for him to pay his rent. It's hard for him to do anything because the community's already labeled him."

Judge Barry Bryan can't comment specifically on Luna's case. Generally speaking, he says even repeat offenders can break bad habits.

"I think that any individual is capable of changing their life or turning it around, I don't think that the system or the government can rehabilitate someone without the person wanting to be rehabilitated," Bryan said.

Luna says her son will prove to Bryan and the public he's turned his life around for good.

"We're looking to do some ministering and my son is going to be a big part of it because he's been through so much," Eva Luna said.

She hopes her son's good deeds can make up for the bad ones.

"It's going to have to be someone that builds a track record of doing the right thing, not just making the change under the threat of a particular case," Bryan said.

In about 30 days, Luna will return to the courtroom to hear his sentence.

According to a previous report, police say Luna, his sister Leanne, Adrianna Villareeal and Fernando Gonzalez robbed a drive-through employee at the Timberland Drive Whataburger. When Lufkin Police spotted the car on Locke Street, they found a pellet gun in the front seat.

Leanne Luna pleaded guilty in February to the crime and will face sentencing on Wednesday.

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