||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2007)|
mug shot of Luster
15 December 1963 |
Las Vegas, Nevada
|Rape, sodomy, oral copulation, unlawful flight to avoid prosecution|
|50 years (124 years before appeal), $1 million fine|
|Incarcerated in Mule Creek State Prison|
|Parents||Henry Luster (deceased)
|Conviction(s)||January 22, 2003 (in absentia; captured June 18, 2003)|
Andrew Stuart Luster (born December 15, 1963) is the great-grandson of cosmetics giant Max Factor, Sr. and an heir to the Max Factor cosmetics fortune. He grew up in Malibu, California, and attended Windward School in Los Angeles. Luster had been supported by a $3.1 million trust fund as he traveled and surfed at various beaches. He was convicted of a series of rapes in 2003.
Early Life and Prior to Arrest
Andrew Luster is the son of Henry Luster, a psychiatrist, and Elizebeth Luster (née Shore). His mother was the adopted daughter of Max Factor, Sr.'s daughter Freida. He grew up in great privilege and he attended private academies, including Windward School.
Later in life, he was referred to as the bored trust fund kid by neighbors. He attended college classes in Santa Barbara but dropped out before earning a degree. He spent most of his time surfing and fishing. He was known for neighborhood antics and mischief before his arrest for rape. He put Super Glue on the locks to a neighbor's house; shot a stranger's car with a paintball gun when the stranger parked in front of his home; and smeared surf wax all over the windshield of an ex-girlfriend's car.
Arrest and conviction
In 2002, 2003 and 2004, Luster was accused of giving three women GHB, a date rape drug, and raping them while they were unconscious. The first person to accuse Luster was a twenty-one-year-old college student; the second, a seventeen-year-old; the third, a woman Luster would later establish a relationship with. She later discovered that unbeknownst to her, Luster had raped her the first night he met her.
After his arrest, detectives and police officers found videotapes of Luster raping the women in question, including one tape labeled "Shauna GHBing." On this tape, Luster, seated on his bed with an unconscious teenager next to him, says, "I dream about this: a strawberry blonde passed out on my bed, waiting for me to do with her what I will." As he digitally penetrates, orally copulates, and sexually assaults this victim, she can be heard audibly snoring.
They also discovered dozens of videotapes with time stamps dating back to 1991, and although authorities were able to conclusively identify three women, numerous unidentified comatose women were captured on tape being sexually assaulted by Luster. The locations varied from California, Arizona, Las Vegas, and Mexico; however, since authorities could not identify the other women in these videotapes, they could not charge Luster with additional crimes. Some were titled with specific locations while others were given titles by Luster, one of which was titled "Totally Hid Vid-Living Room." Detectives also discovered a cache of thirteen firearms within Luster's home, including an illegal AK-47 assault rifle.
Also present in Luster's home were empty vials of what authorities believed contained GHB. Cocaine, marijuana, and psilocybin mushrooms were also found. Pornography and sex toys were logged in as evidence. A back room mural was designed with various pictures of nude and semi-nude women who appeared to be asleep or unconscious. Luster had taken the photographs himself. One of the photos seized by police in their search of Luster's home showed a woman being raped by another man. The picture was taken in 1991 in Arizona and bore the caption, “What a gruesome spectacle, but somebody had to shoot it” in Luster's handwriting.
Initially, prosecutors pushed for an unprecedented bail amount to prevent Luster's release.
"We believe the defendant presents a very serious and credible threat," Deputy Dist. Atty. Becky Day told the judge, describing Luster as a sexual predator who had threatened to kill victims.
She said Luster was a flight risk because of his family assets and asked the judge to hold him on no bail or at least $10 million. To bolster the request, Day filed a copy of a financial statement indicating that Luster had $8 million invested in a stock portfolio.
Luster's lawyer was eventually able to get the bail reduced to $1 million, which Luster posted. He was released, electronically monitored, and had to be home from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. while awaiting trial.
During the trial, the third rape victim, who was pregnant with twins at the time, became extremely agitated due to the pressures of having to testify in court. After complications with her pregnancy, one of the twins died as a result of the stress imposed on her during the trial.
In January 2003, while on trial for rape, Luster fled the country and was declared a fugitive from justice by the judge. Although his attorneys attempted to halt proceedings until he could be located, the judge ruled that Luster would be tried in absentia.
The trial went ahead without him and on January 22, after two days of deliberations, the jury found Luster guilty on 86 of 87 charges against him (many of which had been added to California state law in the wake of the 1996 federal drug-induced sexual assault law) and deadlocked on a single poisoning charge.
Luster was convicted of 20 counts of drug-induced rape, 17 counts of raping an unconscious victim, and multiple counts of sodomy and oral copulation by use of drugs. Luster was sentenced to six years for each of the 20 counts of rape (to be served consecutively) and another four years for poisoning, for a total of 124 years in prison. Luster was also ordered to pay a $1 million fine.
The California Court of Appeal refused the appeal his attorneys filed on his behalf, ruling that as a fugitive from justice, Luster had flouted the court's authority and had thus forfeited his right to appeal. The California Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court later refused to overturn this ruling.
In the days before he fled the country, Luster wired money from a trust fund and placed long-distance calls that authorities believed were part of a plan to skip town and avoid prosecution.
After his disappearance, detectives looked in several states, Mexico, and the Caribbean, but progress was slow because investigators had to rely on assistance from other agencies. While searching for journals or papers indicating possible travel plans, investigators found torn bits of paper, which when pieced together revealed a handwritten personal resume and the names of several countries, including France, Spain, Morocco, Costa Rica, and Mexico.
Investigators seized a stack of mail, an address book, cameras and two books, including one titled, "Costa Rica Traveler."
According to search warrants, Luster tried to cover his tracks by removing the hard drive on his computer.
His friends told investigators they saw no indication that he planned to leave the country. Yet they speculated that Luster likely fled to South America or the South Pacific, and described him as a meticulous planner who probably made his escape arrangements quietly.
As the search continued, investigators set up a phone trap on all incoming and outgoing calls at the Malibu home of Luster's mother, Elizabeth, documents show.
Senior Deputy Ian Laughlin noticed that an international call was placed from Elizabeth Luster's house to a number in Bajamar, Mexico on January 15th. A detective called the number in Mexico and a woman who answered the phone told him it was a residential number, records show.
Investigators also tracked long-distance calls placed by Luster before he ran, including a 19-minute call to a friend in Massachusetts, Vincent Gillespie.
The warrant states that Gillespie's car was found parked outside Luster's beach house at the time he failed to appear in court, and the trap on Elizabeth Luster's phone line revealed she received three calls from Gillespie after Luster fled.
During his flight, Luster found his way to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where he lived under the assumed name David Carrera, surfing and partying. He was captured by bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman, his son Leland Chapman, Tim Chapman, and two TV crewmen in a noisy scuffle on June 18, 2003, and was then taken into custody by Mexican authorities.
The next day, Luster was returned to the U.S., and imprisoned. Chapman was subsequently arrested for deprivation of liberty because bounty-hunting is prohibited by Mexican law, a charge that was ultimately dropped in August 2007.
Meanwhile, back in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, journalists discovered a notebook that Luster was keeping in his hotel room. It contained a page entitled "PAYBACK." Under that heading, Luster had listed the names of all three of his known victims, the lead investigator on the case, and the prosecutors, whom he described as "government robots."
There were other writings in the journal, which was described as a stream-of-consciousness rant that explored ideas such as needing to tint the windows on his car to finding hair dye, buying marijuana, and recouping his money. There were also pick-up lines--written in Spanish.
Prison sentence and civil suits
Luster is currently incarcerated at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, California. Under California law, since his crimes harmed other persons, he was required to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before becoming eligible for release with time off with good behavior. Had his original sentence stood, Luster would not have even been considered for release until he served 105 years—effectively a life sentence.
In late 2009, Luster filed a petition for habeas corpus as the final possibility of getting his case reviewed by another court on appeal. Luster is represented in that suit by J. David Nick and Jay Leiderman. The habeas corpus petition was granted in April 2012. On March 11, 2013, the Ventura County Superior Court vacated Luster's 124-year sentence but not his conviction, based on the trial judge's failure to state specific reasons for imposing consecutive sentences, and ordered a new sentencing hearing April 4, 2013.
Luster, who wept in the courtroom, told the judge that he was “incredibly grateful” for considering lowering his sentence and promised that he would never act “recklessly and irresponsible” again.
“I did some really stupid things without thinking. It’s caused so much damage to so many people,” he said. “There is more to me than this salacious and lurid story that’s been put out there.”
Before sentencing, Prosecutor Michelle Contois argued in court that, by law, the sentences for each count should be served consecutively because Luster had an opportunity to stop the sexual assaults but chose not to do so. She said Luster believes his problems were caused by the victims’ accusations and he is the victim. Contois said Luster was a predator whose actions were “cruel, vicious and callous.” He put his victims’ lives in danger by drugging them so he could rape them while they were unconscious, she said.
Contois said the victims, who did not attend the hearing, have had emotional and psychological problems including nightmares and severe stress.
Stoltz said one of the things that caught her interest was a misdemeanor conviction against Luster for receiving stolen goods. The judge said a friend of Luster’s wrote a letter that described him as a “perfect gentleman with the ladies.”
But, she said, in a March 1998 incident on State Street in Santa Barbara, two women said Luster was harassing them, and they left a nightclub and went to their van, according to prosecutors. Luster followed them, pushed one against the van and pressed his body against hers, the judge said. The woman got a bouncer to help, and later, one of the women’s credit cards was found in Luster’s house, the judge said.
“He felt you were fair game if you were a young lady on State Street,” the judge said.
On April 16, 2013, Ventura County, California Superior Court Judge Kathryne Stoltz reduced Luster's sentence to 50 years—48 years for the rapes and two years for the drug-related charges.
As bailiffs escorted him from the courtroom, Luster appeared stunned. He looked at his mother, Elizabeth Luster, and his two adult children, Connor and Quinn, who sat in the front row of the packed courtroom.
He will not be eligible for parole until the year 2028. Although he no longer faced the certainty of dying in prison, this still did not go far enough for Luster's lawyers, who said they will appeal.   Under California law, since his crimes harmed other persons, Luster must serve 50 percent of his sentence before being eligible for release with time off for good behavior.
Two of the victims won civil lawsuits against Luster, who was ordered to pay a total of $40 million. Their attorneys are still trying to wade through the Luster/Factor investments to determine how much their clients will actually receive. Luster subsequently sold most of his property and declared bankruptcy.
Personal life and psychological analysis
Luster has two children with ex-girlfriend Valerie Balderama: a son, Connor, born June 19, 1991, and a daughter, Quinn, born in 1994.
After his arrest and conviction, many wondered what was behind Luster's repeated episodes of sex with apparently unconscious women.
After he vanished, a movie called A Date with Darkness: The Trial and Capture of Andrew Luster was made based on him and his victims. The film was supposed to end with a picture of the real Andrew Luster, asking the audience to notify authorities if they should see him. When Luster was finally captured, the film was still shooting. The ending was re-written to incorporate his capture.
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- Supreme Court of the United States Docket for 03-854, Andrew Stuart v. California December 11, 2003
- Record of the Motion to Dismiss Appeal at FindLaw
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