Judge Robert Lewis held Brent Luyster’s 13-year-old son in contempt of court Wednesday after the boy, an apparent eyewitness to the alleged triple murder, refused to testify.
The ruling prompted an explosive outburst from Luyster’s son and namesake. He quickly jumped up toward the judge, clearly distraught, screaming and cursing at him.
The jury was not present during the outburst.
Brent Luyster Jr. was transported to Clark County Superior Court from a juvenile facility, where he is reportedly serving time in an unrelated case. He arrived wearing civilian clothing but shackles.
The boy’s attorney, Michael Borge, who’s representing him pro bono, informed the court earlier that Luyster Jr. would not testify.
When the boy took the stand, Lewis asked him if he would testify. He replied, “No, sir.” The judge then asked if he had a legal basis for not testifying, and Luyster Jr. again said, no, adding, “I just don’t feel like talking.”
Lewis ordered him to testify and then asked if he would obey the court’s order. Luyster Jr. said he would not.
The judge asked the prosecutors if they wanted him to hold the boy in contempt. They said yes.
Lewis told Luyster Jr. he would be held in contempt in Clark County juvenile detention indefinitely until he follows the court’s order. The boy became hysterical and was escorted from the court in tears.
Prosecutors asked that he be returned to court first thing this morning. Lewis said Luyster Jr. will periodically be brought to court to see if he will change his mind.
The prosecution also asked that the jury be present when Luyster Jr. takes the stand again. They argued that his refusal to testify demonstrates he is protecting someone, presumably his father, the accused.
Lewis denied the request.
Luyster Jr.’s mother also took the stand Wednesday and said the boy has struggled since the shooting.
She said her son was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and was put into counseling. He’s had nightmares, and she described an episode in which he appeared to suffer a panic attack after seeing a gory movie. She also testified that he ran away from home multiple times and got into legal trouble.
He’s expressed concern about being watched or followed by federal agents or family of the shooting victims, she said, and fears he and his family are in danger.
The trial continues today with additional testimony for the prosecution’s case.