VENTURA (AP) — A California judge on Monday set aside a 124-year prison sentence given to an heir to the Max Factor fortune who was convicted of drugging and raping three women.
Andrew Luster was granted a new sentencing hearing because the trial judge “failed to state specific reasons for imposing full consecutive sentences” as required by law, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Kathryne Ann Stoltz said in a 31-page ruling.
Luster, 49, was arrested in 2000 as he was returning to his home in the Mussel Shoals area northwest of Ventura. He was charged with giving three women the drug GHB and raping them at the beachfront home while they were unconscious.
He was convicted in 2003 of 86 felony counts while on the lam. Jurors saw videotapes he had made of himself engaging in sex acts with some of the women. He was captured the same year in Mexico by bounty hunter Duane “Dog” Chapman.
Luster, the great-grandson of cosmetics giant Max Factor, previously sought to have his sentence reduced and a new trial. An evidentiary hearing was held last month.
He argued he was denied proper legal representation and given bad legal advice. He testified at the hearing that he fled to Mexico during his trial because his attorney and an investigator convinced him the local justice system was corrupt and suggested he run.
“I felt the court was fixed,” Luster said.
His attorney, Jay Leiderman, argued previous defense attorneys should have encouraged Luster to seriously consider a plea bargain from prosecutors. However, prosecutors said there was never a formal deal offered to Luster.
In her ruling, Stoltz rejected Luster’s bid for a new trial and an attempt to void his conviction.
“In this case, this court believes that, overall, Luster received effective assistance of counsel,” Stoltz said. “He got good legal advice explained in detail from more than one source. However, that advice wasn’t what Luster wanted to hear.”
A hearing was set for April 4.
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