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News / Clark County News

Luyster III testifies he feared stepdad would kill him

He tells jury he acted in self-defense during fatal stabbing

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: August 8, 2022, 6:14pm

Brent Luyster III testified Monday in his second-degree murder trial that he thought he was going to die if he didn’t stab his stepfather during a physical altercation in May 2021 in Amboy.

The sixth day of trial testimony in Clark County Superior Court culminated with the 18-year-old taking the stand. Luyster III is claiming self-defense, and it was previously unclear if he would testify.

Luyster told the jury he loved his stepfather, Luther Moore, 48, and that Moore, who was married to the teen’s mother for seven years, was a father figure to him. Luyster is the son and namesake of convicted triple murderer Brent Luyster.

He described the night of May 23, 2021, leading up to the stabbing, when he went with Moore to his Amboy apartment to hang out after not seeing each other for a while. Luyster III said while they were driving, he realized how intoxicated Moore was and that they pulled over multiple times in an attempt to get Moore to sober up. Luyster’s defense attorney said during opening statements that postmortem toxicology results showed Moore had a blood-alcohol level of 0.22.

When they got to the apartment, Luyster said they had a Nerf gun fight with his 6-year-old stepbrother. At one point, Luyster said he heard Moore yelling on the phone, and he later learned Moore was talking to Luyster’s mother. Luyster said Moore became more agitated throughout the night and that Moore wouldn’t let him go to sleep.

Luyster told the jury Moore eventually began screaming at him to “get the (expletive) out” and calling him names. He said Moore yelled that he looked just like his mother.

Luyster said he grabbed his shoes to leave and made it to the door when he felt a sharp pain on his back as he was struck with a broomstick or dustpan. He said Moore then punched him in the face, “so hard I saw stars,” and they began wrestling.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jeff McCarty noted that the only injuries to Luyster documented upon his arrest were a cut to his pinky and some redness on his back — no visible injuries to his jaw. Luyster said that a few days after his arrest, he told deputies at the Juvenile Detention Center about soreness in his jaw.

Luyster said he was screaming at Moore to get off of him, and he told the jury he didn’t want to fight him; he only wanted to leave.

Eventually, Luyster said he pulled a kitchen knife from his pocket that he always carries with him and stabbed Moore in the forehead. The initial stabbing didn’t affect Moore, he said, so he continued to stab him until he could get out from under Moore. An autopsy revealed Moore suffered 11 sharp-force wounds.

McCarty pressed Luyster on his testimony that he only stabbed Moore while Moore was on top of him, after Clark County Medical Examiner Dr. Martha Burt previously testified the fatal stab wounds to Moore’s back would have bled profusely. Luyster had blood on his hands and arms, but McCarty said he didn’t have much on his clothes.

McCarty also questioned how Luyster was never stabbed in the leg by the fixed-blade knife if it was in his pocket while the two wrestled around the living room, knocking things over. Luyster said the tip of the knife was dulled down and that he carries it every day for protection.

As Luyster ran from the apartment, Moore followed him, he told the jury. Eventually, he said he looked back and saw that Moore was heading back into the apartment when he collapsed in the doorway. He said he heard him groan out his nickname.

“I can’t just leave him there like that,” Luyster said.

He began to tear up as he recounted running to a neighbor’s house and banging on the front door to get help.

Luyster said he still loved Moore but that he’s frustrated because the whole situation has put him through a lot, including a year in jail. He said he didn’t think he committed a crime.

“I thought I was going to die if I didn’t stab Luther Moore,” Luyster said.

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He told the jury that Moore had previously boasted to him about his violent criminal history and told him he had killed people. Luyster said he looked up to Moore for it and that he wanted to be like him.

McCarty recounted that Luyster’s sister, Molly Luyster, had testified earlier in the day that Luyster men settle things with violence.

The defense expects to call its final witnesses Tuesday before beginning closing arguments, followed by jury deliberations.