Andrew Luster testified in a Ventura County courtroom on Wednesday that he fled to Mexico during his trial because his attorney and an investigator convinced him that the local justice system was corrupt and suggested he run, the Ventura County Star ( http://bit.ly/12dIZGz) reported.
"They were strongly encouraging me to leave before I was convicted and murdered," Luster said.
His current attorneys contend that he was denied proper legal representation and they are seeking to have his sentence reduced. Closing arguments in the hearing were expected Friday.
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.
In 2003, he was convicted 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 testified that he fled after attorney Richard Sherman said that the deck was stacked against him after a judge began ruling against defense motions.
"I felt the court was fixed,"
Sherman told him that he would be convicted and might be killed in prison if he stayed, Luster claimed.
"I was traumatized," Luster said. "I was completely scared out of my wits."
Sherman began to suggest that he flee, and an investigator who worked for the attorney drove Luster to Mexico, Luster said.
Luster said he paid Sherman $200,000.
Sherman died of cancer in 2011. In a 2004 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Sherman said he "was never in a room with Mr. Luster discussing his fleeing. The only thing I discussed with him was his future."
Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com