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Archive for Wednesday, January 22, 2003

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January 22, 2003

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California: Fugitive convicted on rape charges

A jury Tuesday convicted the fugitive heir to the Max Factor cosmetics fortune on charges of raping three women and drugging two of them at his beach house.

Andrew Luster, who fled in the middle of his trial while under house arrest, was found guilty of 86 counts that included rape, sodomy, drug and weapons possession and poisoning. The jury in Ventura deadlocked on one count of poisoning one of the victims.

The conviction could put Luster, the 39-year-old great-grandson of Max Factor, in prison for life if he is captured.

Luster was arrested in 2000 after a 21-year-old college student told police he had drugged and assaulted her.

California: Husband's search gives burglars opportunity

The home of a pregnant woman who has been missing since Christmas Eve was burglarized while her husband organized search efforts in Southern California, police said.

Scott Peterson, 30, reported the break-in Sunday night. Modesto Police said burglars entered through a window sometime between Thursday and Sunday.

Peterson's 27-year-old wife, Laci, has been missing since Christmas Eve. She was due to deliver a boy Feb. 10.

Peterson, along with his parents, brother and sister, was in Los Angeles distributing fliers Sunday and promised to expand search efforts to San Diego this weekend. But police say they are concentrating their search efforts in and around Modesto, which is about 80 miles east of San Francisco.

Texas: Professor free on bond in bubonic plague case

A university professor accused of lying to federal agents about the whereabouts of 30 vials of plague bacteria was released from jail Tuesday after posting $100,000 bond.

Dr. Thomas C. Butler, 61, is charged with making a false statement to a federal agent in an incident in Lubbock that sparked a bioterrorism scare last week.

Butler, who is internationally renowned for his plague research, had been held without bond since being arrested late last Wednesday after admitting he had accidentally destroyed the 30 vials, according to court documents. He had initially said they were missing.

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