Drug-death trial continues today

Texts, other messages between Luna and Wells dominate day two of trial

Staff photo by Dean Shalhoup William Luna, of Lowell, Mass., is on trial in Hillsborough County Superior Court South this week, the result of drug-related charges that include the sale of fentanyl with death resulting. Testimony continues Wednesday.

NASHUA – William Luna and Nicholas Wells exchanged a lot of text messages from early June 2017 to just minutes before midnight on June 19, the attorneys on both sides of Luna’s drug-death trial showed Tuesday using enlarged copies of cellphone records.

Prosecutors, defense attorneys and witnesses at the second day of Luna’s trial agreed the texts were numerous, full of street jargon, at times profane and mixed with an occasional phone conversation.

To the prosecution, the sheer number of texts between Luna and Wells, and the fact selling and buying drugs was always the topic, is a sure indicator that Luna is in fact the man who sold Wells the dose of fentanyl on which Wells overdosed and died within six hours of the transaction.

However, defense attorneys Anthony Naro and Marc Gouthro promptly pointed out that while the text messages shown in court were all between Luna and Wells, several other apps on Wells’s two cellphones show he “conversed” regularly with others – and often, the topic was drugs.

Testimony by Pelham Police Department Det. Bruce Vieira, a narcotics specialist who led the investigation into Wells’s death, took up much of the second day of what is expected to be a five-day trial in Hillsborough County Superior Court-South.

Staff photo by Dean Shalhoup Attorney Anthony Naro, one of William Luna's lawyers, studies one of several slides showing a succession of text messages between Luna and Nicholas Wells, several days before Wells died of an overdose at his Pelham home. Luna is charged with selling Wells the drugs that killed him.

Wells was 25 when he died the morning of June 20, 2017, shortly after his father found him lying unresponsive on the ground just outside the door of the basement apartment of the family’s Pelham home.

An autopsy would determine that Wells died of an overdose of fentanyl, prompting police to charge Luna – whom they arrested the same day Wells died – with sale of a controlled drug – death resulting, a special felony that is punishable by up to life in prison.

The charge is one of seven on which Luna went to trial, which began with the lawyers’ opening statements Monday and is scheduled to resume at 10 a.m. today in the Nashua court.

Luna, 45, a Lowell, Massachusetts, resident who has been in Valley Street jail since his arrest on June 20, 2017, was indicted in October 2017. Counts against him include the death-resulting charge, along with two counts each of a controlled drug – acts prohibited, and possession of a controlled drug – subsequent offense, all felonies; and one count each of possession of cocaine – subsequent offense and possession of fentanyl, amount greater than one gram and less than five grams, both special felonies.

Assistant Attorney General Heather Cherniske, who is prosecuting the case with Assistant Attorney General Jesse O’Neill, examined the text messages in detail with Vieira, the Pelham detective, on the stand reading along and answering her questions.

Staff photo by Dean Shalhoup Attorney Anthony Naro, one of two lawyers representing William Luna at his trial on drug-related charges involving the death of a Pelham man, reads text message transcripts to Pelham police detective Bruce Vieria during the second day of trial Tuesday.

Vieira described how police located Luna – they texted Luna using one of Wells’s cellphones and arranged a drug buy at a Pelham store – to which Luna agreed, believing he was texting with Wells.

Asked by Cherniske why he searched Wells’s phones just two weeks ago, he said prosecutors asked him to do so. He was able to review messages on two apps, but said when he logged on to Wi-Fi, the phones went black.

Vieira said the last message he found on the Facebook Messenger app on one of Wells’s phones was part of a conversation with a female; the two “had a conversation about their fathers,” he said. That final message was sent at 3:05 a.m.

“Was there anything in those messages about drugs?” Cherniske asked.

“No,” Vieira responded. Asked if he found any evidence that Wells was texting or messaging anyone other than Luna about drugs, Vieira again said “no.”

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-1256, dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com, or @Telegraph_DeanS.

COMMENTS