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Cousin of Slay Victim Gets 2 Years Jail on Gun Charges

March 30, 2019

LOWELL -- A 22-year-old Lowell man was sentenced Friday to two years in jail and three years of probation for being in possession of a loaded handgun as he fled from a car on O’Connell Street where police moments later found his 24-year-old cousin dead.

Joseph Luna was never a suspect in the Feb. 17, 2018, shooting death of his cousin Anthony Luna, 24, of Lowell, but was arrested along with another cousin, 22-year-old Christian Tripp-Kirwin, moments after the shooting occurred.

Joseph Luna suffered a gunshot wound to the elbow in the incident that claimed his cousin’s life.

Police responding to a report of the shooting were told that people were fleeing the area, and Officer Stephen Hunter stopped Joseph Luna and Tripp-Kirwin when he saw them walking near Lundberg and Gorham streets.

Hunter frisked both men for weapons, and found a loaded .380 caliber handgun in the pocket of Tripp-Kirwin’s jacket, according to a police report.

Tripp-Kirwin admitted the gun was his, and told Hunter that Anthony Luna was dead inside a Mercedes Benz parked nearby on O’Connell Street, according to a police report. Other officers soon found Anthony Luna’s body in that exact location.

Prosecutors say Joseph Luna and Tripp-Kirwin had been driving around with Anthony Luna much of the night, and that they were parked on O’Connell Street about 4 a.m. when a man in dark clothing approached and opened fire, killing Anthony Luna and shooting Joseph Luna in the elbow.

Joseph Luna and Tripp-Kirwin both fled immediately, and told police they could not identify the person who opened fire, according to police reports.

A police report said images posted to Snapchat showed Joseph Luna holding the same gun Tripp-Kirwin was found with about 30 minutes prior to the shooting.

The subsequent investigation into Anthony Luna’s death led to no arrests until earlier this month, when Joseph McGillicuddy, 22, of Lowell, was indicted on murder and other charges. McGillicuddy remains held without bail.

While McGillicuddy’s arrest is the first connected to Luna’s death, Joseph Luna and Tripp-Kirwin have both now been sentenced to jail for their actions on the night of the killing.

Tripp-Kirwin pleaded guilty in January to carrying a firearm without a license and carrying a loaded firearm without a license, according to court records. Superior Court Judge Kenneth Salinger sentenced Tripp-Kirwin to 2 1/2 years in jail followed by two years of probation, according to court records.

On Friday, Superior Court Judge Heidi Brieger sentenced Joseph Luna to 1 1/2 years in jail on a count of carrying a firearm without a license, and to another 1 1/2 years in jail on a count of carrying a loaded firearm without a license, according to court records.

Brieger ordered Luna to serve the entirety of his first sentence, and six months of his second sentence, with the balance of his second sentence suspended for three years, according to court records.

Luna will be on probation for those three years, and must possess no weapons or drugs during that time, Brieger ordered. Brieger also ordered Luna to stay away from Anthony Luna’s grave, according to court records.

Joseph Luna’s attorney, Jamal Aruri, said at Luna’s arraignment that his client had no prior record, and was mourning his cousin and recovering from the wound to his elbow even as he faced charges.

Tripp-Kirwin’s attorney, Joanne Walsh, said at his arraignment that “My client saw a family member get executed.”

Both men had been free on bail during most of the time their cases were pending, so both got only a few days credit toward their jail sentences.

McGillicuddy is due back in court on Monday.

Follow Robert Mills on Twitter @Robert_Mills.

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