Tuesday, January 21, 2003

VENTURA, Calif., Jan. 21 (UPI) — A California jury late Tuesday convicted Max Factor cosmetics heir Andrew Luster on all but one of the 87 charges against him even though he remained a fugitive after allegedly jumping bail days before his rape trial commenced.

Luster, 39, vanished Jan. 3 while out on $1 million bail and facing a possible life sentence for drugging three women with the “date rape” drug GHB (gamma hydroxy butyrate) between 1996 and 2000 and then videotaping himself having sex with his unconscious victims at his Ventura County beach house.

Luster’s lawyer had tried to convince the jury that his client was an aspiring pornography director and that the victims had agreed to ingest the GHB and then have filmed consensual sex. Prosecutors scoffed and said there was no evidence the women were actresses.

The Ventura jury found Luster guilty on 86 counts, however they deadlocked on a poisoning charge and a mistrial on that lone count was declared. Luster will be sentenced at a later date; however whether he is present at the time depends upon the success of an international manhunt.

There has been no trace of Luster, a self-employed investor with the financial resources to put a great deal of distance between himself and Ventura County. He apparently took his dog, some warm clothing, and a collection of artifacts from the Chumash Indian tribe of Southern California.

Luster’s sport utility vehicle was found over the weekend apparently abandoned in Santa Monica while his pet dog was located last week at his mother’s home in Sonoma County.

(Reported by Hil Anderson in Los Angeles)

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