VENTURA, Calif., Feb. 21 (UPI) -- The great-grandson of U.S. cosmetics giant Max Factor was misled by lawyers when they suggested he flee to Mexico over rape charges, witnesses said in court.
Andrew Luster, 49, was sentenced to 124 years in prison in absentia for charges related to videotaping sexual encounters with unconscious women. He fled to Mexico in 2003 on advice from his legal team but was captured by celebrity bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman and returned to the United States to serve the sentence.
Luster and a new legal team have appealed the unusually long sentence and witnesses appeared in Ventura County Court Wednesday to back the request for a shorter prison sentence, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.
Darryl Genis, one of Luster's friends said the defendant was "childlike" and failed to understand that he could be sentenced to more than 100 years in prison for his crime.
Luster's defense team misled the man by "painting a picture that was pure fantasy," Genis said. They scared Luster by telling him he'd likely be killed in prison.
"In his own childlike way, he tried to do a cost-benefit analysis," Genis said.
Deputy District Attorney Michelle Contois said she didn't think Luster bolted only because his lawyers scared him about dying in prison.
"Luster could have terminated their services if he didn't like the advice he was getting," she said.
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