Investigation into a death the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Dept. deputies had initially labeled as “mysterious” and “suspicious” has revealed that cocaine killed 36-year-old James Luna.
Luna, an Oxnard resident, died sometime during the weekend of April 5 and 6 in his girlfriend’s vehicle. The 2002 Saturn, which had been parked in an alley connecting Orange and Magnolia avenues, was discovered by police in Goleta on Thursday. Because the car’s windows were stained with blood, police initially investigated Luna’s death as a murder. However, searching the vehicle revealed no murder weapon.
Tuesday afternoon, Sheriff’s Dept. Public Information Officer Chris Pappas said the county coroner had determined through a toxicological screening that an overdose – not murder – was the cause of death.
“The scene was covered in blood because the victim had been throwing up internal bleeding,” he said. Luna apparently had expelled the blood while vomiting shortly before his death. Furthermore, Pappas said Luna’s autopsy also revealed that despite the volume of displaced blood, his body had suffered no external trauma.
Although the events leading up to Luna’s death are still unclear, investigators have so far determined that Luna’s girlfriend had last seen him heading to dinner with friends at about 1 p.m. Saturday.