Brent Luyster III testified Monday in his second-degree murder trial that he believed he was going to die if he didn’t stab his stepfather in a physical altercation in May 2021 in Amboy.
The sixth day of testimony in Clark County Superior Court culminated with the 18-year-old taking his stand. Luyster III claims self-defense, and it was previously unclear whether he would testify.
Luyster told the jury that he loved his stepfather, Luther Moore, 48, and that Moore, who had been married to the teenager’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, which preceded the stabbing, when he went with Moore to his apartment in Amboy to hang out after not seeing each other for some time. Luyster III said that while they were driving he realized how inebriated Moore was and they stopped several times in an attempt to sober Moore up. Luyster’s defense attorney said during opening statements that post-mortem 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 half-brother. At one point, Luyster said he heard Moore screaming on the phone, and he later learned that Moore was talking to Luyster’s mother. Luyster said Moore became more restless throughout the night and Moore would not let him fall asleep.
Luyster told the jury that Moore eventually started yelling at him to “get the (expletive) out” and insulting him. He said Moore shouted that he looked like his mother.
Luyster said he grabbed his shoes to leave and walked to the door when he felt a sharp pain in his back as he was hit with a broomstick or dustpan. He said Moore then punched him in the face, “so hard I saw stars”, and they began to struggle.
Senior Assistant District Attorney Jeff McCarty noted Luyster’s only documented injuries during his arrest were a cut on his little finger and red rash on his back — no visible injuries to his jaw. Luyster said that a few days after his arrest, he spoke to deputies at the juvenile detention center about pain in his jaw.
Luyster said he was yelling at Moore to get rid of him, and he told the jury he didn’t want to fight him; he just 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 kept stabbing him until he could get out from under Moore. An autopsy revealed that Moore had suffered 11 acute injuries.
McCarty pressed Luyster on his testimony that he only stabbed Moore when Moore was on top of him, after Clark County Medical Examiner Dr. Martha Burt previously testified that the fatal stab wounds on 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 had never been stabbed in the leg by the fixed blade knife if it was in his pocket while the two were struggling in the living room, knocking things over. Luyster said the tip of the knife was dull and he wore it every day for protection.
As Luyster fled the apartment, Moore followed him, he told the jury. Eventually, he said he looked back and saw Moore walking back into the apartment when he collapsed in the doorway. He said he heard him moan his nickname.
“I can’t just leave it there,” Luyster said.
He started crying as he said he ran to a neighbor and knocked on the front door for help.
Luyster said he still loved Moore but was frustrated because the whole situation 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.
He told the jury that Moore had previously bragged about his violent criminal history and told him that he had killed people. Luyster said he admired Moore for it and wanted to be like him.
McCarty said Luyster’s sister, Molly Luyster, testified earlier that day that Luyster’s men were settling things violently.
The defense plans to call its final witnesses on Tuesday before starting closing arguments, followed by jury deliberations.