Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Andrew Luster

'Ripped to Pieces'

An investigator hired by Luster focused his attention on Carey, whom Luster had described to police as a "total nut" and a "fun-loving nymph."

Carey admitted to detectives that she liked to party and sometimes used drugs and drank too much. Lab tests on the dress she wore to Luster's house showed traces of semen from three different men. The defense believed the prosecution's case would fall apart without Carey.

The L.A. Times appeared to predict just that in a defense-friendly analysis by Mary A. Fischer published as a curtain-opener to Luster's trial:

"As the pretrial debate between Ventura County prosecutors and Luster's defense team continues, Luster's case opens a window on the persistent problems that arise when the criminal justice system is confronted with accusations of drug-induced sexual assault. These cases often present difficult challenges, including physical evidence that vanishes quickly from the human body and built-in cultural biases against men and women who sometimes get caught up in a partying lifestyle. Such cases also often hinge on the meaning of 'consensual' and the ability of a jury to sift the truth from a subculture of sometimes easy sex, performed in a haze of drugs and alcohol, that obscures traditional meanings of guilt and innocence."

In the story, a retired LAPD lieutenant hired by Luster's team to investigate Carey hinted that a bruising trial lay ahead.

"We will show that over the course of 72 hours, Carey had sex with at least three men," said Bill Pavelic. "So why would she just single out Luster? There is only one answer. She did it hoping to get his money."

After his arrest, Luster predicted in an interview with detectives that Carey's lifestyle would not stand up to scrutiny.

"If the DA files charges, it's going to go to a jury, and she's going to look like a fool," he said. "I'm going to get a top-notch lawyer and she'll get cross-examined and ripped to pieces."

Maybe it was wishful thinking.

After all, under the law Carey's lifestyle was largely irrelevant. Even if she willingly had sex with 100 men that night, a 101st man would have committed a series of felonies had he slipped her a knock-out drug and raped her while she was unconscious.

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