Brent Luyster Murder Trial

Information on the Brent Luyster Murder Case

Court: Clark Superior
Case Number: 16-1-01503-4

Next Court Date
07/11/2017 at 3pm

OCTOBER 30, 2017

Attorneys for the Defense
Charles Buckley

Steve Rucker

Case Information

Case Summary (PDF – Right click to download, 35 pages) color coded with explanations


Warrant and Probable Cause – Worth reading for the probable cause statement which goes into great detail about the crime. (9 pages)
Information Filing – Details each individual charge of murder with victim’s names. (3 pages)
Notice of Special Punishment
 – Notice to the defendant that he is subject to special punishment given his criminal history. (1 page)
Motion to Seal Warrant
 – Motion by prosecutor to seal warrant while Luyster was on the loose.  This order was later changed after he was jailed.  (3 uypages)
Court Information and Financial Screening
 – Information sheet on Brent Luyster.  Pages and pages of past criminal history included. (11 pages)
Order Appointing Counsel
 – Order by judge appointing counsel. (1 Page)
Clark County Jail Pre-Book Sheet
 – First page is some booking sheet.  The rest is the probable cause, same as Warrant and Probable Cause. (7 Pages)
Motion to Amend Information
 – Motion from the prosecution to amend the information (this means to either drop or add charges) to add charges after Luyster was captured.  They can’t just amend the information, they have to ask the court’s permission first. (2 pages)
Amended Information
 – The amended information.  (3 pages)
Defense Memo RE Heightened Standards of Scrutiny and Reliability
 – This is a standard motion asking the court to apply “heightened scrutiny” when making decisions in the case.  This is done because anything do you not asking for, or object to, during the trial cannot later be brought up on appeal.  If he is convicted and appeals and says “the judge did not follow case law and apply heightened scrutiny” and they didn’t bring it up, the court won’t hear the appeal. (5 pages)
Defense Motion to Continue Arraignment
 – Very long motion asking for more time to prepare for Luyster’s arraignment.  Note the strange quote at the top and even stranger signature file at the last page.  (15 pages)
Emails Regarding JR Yoseph Defense of Luyster
 – JR Joseph had to prove his work load allowed him to take on a death penalty case.  These are emails he submitted to the court showing that is other death penalty case in Thurston County is no longer a death penalty case. (3 pages)
Stipulated Order re CR 45(b)(2)
 – This order (stipulated means it was agreed to by both parties) allows the defense to issue subpoenas without giving notice to the prosecution.  Washington Court Rule 45(b)(2), which sets out the rules for subpoenas, states: “A motion for such an order may be made ex parte.”  The reason the defense would want to do this is to keep “work product” away from the eyes of the prosecution. (2 pages)
Second Defense Motion to Continue Arraignment
 – This motion to continue is a little strange.  It states that declarations by some prosecutors allude to some breach of the attorney client privilege by Luyster’s previous counsel. (6 pages)
Declaration of SPRC 2 Appointed Counsel
 – Attorney J.R. Yoseph informs the court, contrary to popular belief apparently, that he can handle his current case load and the Luyster case. (6 pages)
Order Authorizing Fingerprinting of the Defendant
 – State requested that they be able to fingerprint Luyster.  This is a court order authorizing them to do so.  (1 page)
Stipulated Order RE Confidentiality of Jail Visits With Defendant
 – This is an agreement between the prosecution and defense (this is what “stipulated” means) concerning any experts who come to visit Luyster at the jail.  As I stated in class, the defense has a right to keep any research by experts private until something is put down on paper.  This paperwork is an order stating the jail cannot release Luyster’s jail visitor information to anyone, including the prosecution, if they are deemed an expert. (4 pages)
Motion RE Disclosure and Non-interference with Defense Investigation
 – An almost gossipy piece by the defense alleging that jail personnel are questioning them and getting in their way of defending Luyster. (5 pages)
Prosecution’s Response to Defense Motion for Non-Interference with Investigation
 – An even gossipier piece where we find out the “witness” the defense wanted to interview alone is 12-years-old.  Complete with some gossipy emails. (6 pages)
Response in Opposition to Defendant’s Motion to Remove Shackling
 – Detailed reasoning behind not wanting to de-shackle Luyster during attorney visits.  Information on current charges, threat level, behavior issues and the economics of  de-shackling Luyster. It also goes into how the jail works and how they determine if a defendant is a threat.  (8 pages)
Declaration of Paul Dougher
 – Mostly reiterating what was in the previous document about their opposition to de-shackling Luyster.  It had 30 pages of disciplinary reports that are interesting. (39 pages)
Declaration of Jane E Vetto
 – Declaration of civil prosecutor who drafted the hold harmless agreement re: de-shackling of Luyster during attorney visits. (13 pages)
Note to Motion Hearing on ExParte Order Concerning Storage Unit
 – Setting court date to present motion regarding storage unit.  ExParte means “one party.”  This means they want an order before the other side has a chance to respond. (1 page)
Second and Renewed Defense Motion to Stop State Interference with Defense Investigation in This Case – The defense making another motion for a court order to interview Brent Luyster’s son.  (5 pages)
Prosecution Response to Second Defense Motion for Non-Interference with Investigation
 – The prosecution using the same arguments to say the defense doesn’t need such a motion.  Note how the defense uses Brent’s son’s name, the prosecution calls him “Doe” but then attaches an email with his name in it.  (!?!)  (5 pages)
Second Ammended Information
  – Adds concealing a previous crime, and murder of more than one person, as aggravators to each murder charge. (4 pages)
Second Ammended Notice of Special Punishment -Notice to the defendant that he is subject to special punishment given his criminal history. (1 page)
Second Arraignment for New Charges
  Information on arraignment and the fact that Luyster wants to defend himself against any new charges. (5 pages)
Defense Motion For Continued Appointment of Co Counsel In Complex Aggravated Murder Case
  – In a capital (death penalty) case two attorneys are often employed for one defendant.  In this case since the prosecution was seeking the death penalty two attorneys were working on the case.  The prosecution then decided not to seek the death penalty.  The judge would then order that only one attorney stay on the case.  This is a defense motion asking the judge not to do that.  It basically says if you take one of us off, we both quit. (7 pages)
Order Rescinding Designation of Court Reporter Allowing Withdrawal of Counsel and Appointing Successor Counsel
  – This is an order allowing both attorneys (Edward Dunkerly and J.R. Yoseph) to quit and appointing in their place Jeff Barrar (good attorney name). (2 pages)
Second Order Appointing Counsel
  – Document appointing Jeff Barrar as counsel. (1 page)
Omnibus Application by Defendant CrR 4.5
  – The defense can ask that certain things be done prior to the Omnibus hearing (click to read about omnibus hearings).  This is their wish list.  (4 pages)
Omnibus Application by Plaintiff and Order of Court
  The prosecution can ask that certain things be done prior to the Omnibus hearing (click to read about omnibus hearings).  This is their wish list.  (4 pages)
Order Authorizing Consumption of DNA Evidence
  – Order that the state may begin processing the DNA sample of Luyster and that defense may employ an expert to observe. (1 page)
Handwritten List of Grievances by Brent Luyster Sent to Judge Lewis
  – Interesting read. (6 pages)
Motion to Allow Client to Review Police Reports in his Cell
 – Luyster’s attorney petitioned the court to allow Luyster to read court documentation in his cell. (2 pages)
Order Allowing Client to Review Police Reports – This is the order the judge signed allowing the motion. (1 page)
Service of Order – This is the service of the order. (4 pages)
Response to Luyster’s Grievances by Ric Bishop – This is an interesting piece.  It is a response from the sheriff’s office to Luyster’s letter to the judge. (2 pages)
State’s Witness List – This is a list of witnesses the state plans to call during the trial. (3 pages)
Defense Memorandum of Authorities in Support of Appointment of Co-Counsel
 – Argument and list of authorities used to support his motion for appointment of second counsel.  The judge’s previous decision to have only one attorney work on the case is why Luyster’s team of attorneys quit in March. (3 pages)
Motion for Appointment of Co-Counsel
 – Defense motion and declaration in support for co-counsel.  I’m starting to think he’s right.  The Sergio Reyes-Brooks case we studied, which was so complicated, had 3,500 pages of Bates stamped (prosecution’s way of organizing it in one long file, starting at page one and continuing until no more pages exist.  This helps with communication and keeping track of reports.) and this case has over 12,000 pages, loads of other discovery, and doesn’t have a half-a-dozen law students working on it.  This case is ripe for an appeal if he doesn’t have two attorneys. (4 pages)
Memorandum in Support of Motion to Sever Charges – This goes over the facts of the escape attempt.  It’s strange because in previous documents filed with the court they kept saying they thought he was trying to burn things and start a fire.  I don’t know when they decided it was an escape attempt.  If you are interested in how and why they would sever a case like this, it is an interesting read.  If not, it is fairly long and has a lot of rules and case law that can get tedious. It is a pretty good argument though it leaves out what I consider to be the most important argument: Luyster has said he wants to represent himself on the escape attempt charge.  His bad lawyering in front of the jury could influence their decision of the murder charge. (10 pages)
Clerk’s Notes for Pretrial Motion 06.12.2017 – Short one page document outlining what happened at the June 12th hearing. (1 page)
Memorandum of Disposition 07.11.2017 – Notice to Luyster that he has to return to court on July 11th at 3PM for his next hearing. (1 page)
Motion to Sever Charges – Motion asking the court to sever Luyster’s murder charges from his escape attempt charges.
Order Appointing Co-Counsel For Defendant
 – Document adding co-counsel.
Order Appointing Counsel (Steve Rucker)
 – Order appointing Steve Rucker to represent Brent Luyster in the murder trial.
Prosecution’s Response to Motion to Sever Charges
 – Prosecution’s response.  Kind of sparse and contradictory, saying on the one hand that joining the murder charges to the escape charges isn’t prejudicial so they should be tried together.  Then on the other hand saying that escape charge has been deemed an indicator of guilt to the charges the inmate was trying to escape from.



Judge OKs 2nd defense attorney for triple-murder suspect (06-15-17)
Defense requests second attorney in Luyster triple-murder case (06-12-17)
Luyster’s lawyers step down from case (03/06/17)
Accused killer tried to escape, make weapon (02-14-17)
Luyster’s Arraignment Pushed to Feb. 2017 (11-08-16)

Girlfriend of Suspect in Triple Murder Sentenced (09-23-16)

Girlfriend of Accused Triple-Killer Charged (07-22-16)

Three Bodies Discovered in Woodland (07-16-16)




Audio Files

These are the audio files I have received so far from the King County Sheriff’s office.


The first eight are 911 calls about hearing shots fired:

First 911 call:


Second 911 call:


Third 911 call:


Fourth 911 call:


Fifth 911 call:


Sixth 911 call:


Seventh 911 call:


Eighth 911 call:


May 11 Class


NEW!  Discovery Reyes-Brooks case (right click to download) 

Court Resources (from Anatomy of Justice website)


Jury Selection



Supreme Court Takes on Racial Discrimination in Jury Selection

Jury Selection Case Law



Prosecutor’s Discovery Obligations

Frank Carson Case


Direction and Cross Examination




Expert Witnesses



Appeals Process

Understanding the Hierarchy of the US Court System

Sergio Reyes-Brooks Appeal



Washington State Superior Court Criminal Rules

Sergio Reyes-Brooks Sentencing



May 4th Class


Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.


In Miranda v. Arizona (1966), the Supreme Court ruled that detained criminal suspects, prior to police questioning, must be informed of their constitutional right to an attorney and against self-incrimination.

Statements must be made “voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently.”

Text of Case

Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court. In a 5–4 majority, the Court held that both inculpatory and exculpatory statements made in response to interrogation by a defendant in police custody will be admissible at trial only if the prosecution can show that the defendant was informed of the right to consult with an attorney before and during questioning and of the right against self-incrimination before police questioning, and that the defendant not only understood these rights, but voluntarily waived them. (WIKIPEDIA)


State’s first brief

State’s reply brief


Defense Argument


Court’s decision on CR 3.5


Miranda Video 1


Other Important Case Law

Constitutional Amendments