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‘Personal Hygiene’ Spat Led 21-Year-Old Texas Inmate to Murder 62-Year-Old Cellmate by ‘Punching Him and Stomping on His Head’: Reports

A photo shows Luke Christopher Pena.

Luke Christopher Pena. (Image via jail mugshot.)

A Texas jail inmate is now facing murder charges for allegedly attacking his cellmate as the victim slept.  The victim languished in the hospital for nearly three weeks until succumbing to his injuries on Wednesday, according to San Antonio CBS affiliate KENS.

A Bexar County court docket reviewed by Law&Crime says Luke Christopher Pena, 21, was charged with murder via a Nov. 23, 2022 criminal complaint. A grand jury indictment has not yet occurred, the records indicate.

A report from San Antonio ABC affiliate KSAT says Pena attacked Gilbert Zepeda, 62, as Zepeda slept.  Zepeda died later at Brooke Army Medical Center after a craniotomy attempted unsuccessfully to alleviate a brain injury, the television station said.

Zepeda died at 4:35 p.m. Wednesday from “cardiopulmonary arrest due to an assault,” according to an affidavit obtained by KSAT.

The Texas Rangers were called at 7:15 p.m. (presumably on the date the attack occurred, but the dates in the available television reports are slightly unclear) as an outside agency to investigate the matter.

KENS listed the attack date as Thursday, Nov. 3.  It also listed Zepeda’s age as 61 rather than the aforementioned 62.

A jail sergeant told a Texas Ranger that “Pena had assaulted his cellmate,” according to KSAT’s retelling of the affidavit.

Citing that same document, both previously referenced television stations — and NBC affiliate WOAI — all said Pena claimed Zepeda had “disrespected him” in some fashion.  The details and parameters of that alleged disrespect are not explained in the available reports.

The reports also collectively say Pena found Zepeda’s personal hygiene objectionable and that he intended to kill Zepeda.

“Pena admitted that he waited for Zepeda to fall asleep before punching him and stomping on his head,” KSAT reported. “He said it was an attempt to kill Zepeda.”

The authorities, by alleging murder, have accused Pena of “intentionally and knowingly caused Zepeda’s death,” KSAT continued.

Pena reportedly remains in the Bexar County Jail pending a Jan. 18, 2023 court hearing.

Other court records reviewed by Law&Crime suggest Pena was jailed on a series of previous charges dated Oct. 30, 2022, including criminal mischief, kidnapping, theft, failure to stop, and aggravated assault resulting in severe bodily injury.

The reason Zepeda was in jail is unclear from online inmate and court records.

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.