Prospective jurors in the federal criminal trial of former political donor Ed Buck could be asked about prior drug experiences and their views of prostitution, homelessness and cooperating witnesses when questioning gets underway Tuesday.
Federal prosecutors want to ask potential jurors whether they or any friends or relatives ever had a drug problem, or whether any close friends or relatives have been “drugged unknowingly” or against their will.
“Have you had a close friend or relative die of a drug overdose?” is among questions on the government’s proposed list of juror questions filed late Tuesday in Los Angeles federal court.
Other questions during voir dire, or jury selection, expected to begin Tuesday, include whether “you have any strongly held personal beliefs or opinions regarding prostitution? Do you believe that any adult who wants to pay for sexual activity with another adult should be able to do so?”
Potential jurors also could be asked if they hold any strong personal beliefs or opinions regarding homelessness, as well as individuals who may have broken the law and are cooperating with law enforcement by testifying.
A prosecution trial memorandum filed Friday contends that Buck had a “fetish” for paying Black men to allow him to inject them with methamphetamine — even while they were passed out.
Buck, 66, is accused of giving fatal doses of narcotics to two — Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean — who died in his West Hollywood apartment. Buck faces nine felony counts, plus state charges of running a drug den. The federal case is proceeding first.
Buck’s attorney, Christopher Darden, best known for being part of the prosecution team in the murder trial of O.J. Simpson, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges that Buck lured vulnerable, homeless gay men, who were addicted to drugs or working as escorts, to his Laurel Avenue apartment, where he provided drugs in exchange for sexual activity.
Buck’s alleged practices turned lethal when Moore and Dean died of overdoses, the memo states.
At the apartment, Buck “prepared methamphetamine syringes in a ritualistic fashion; some victims report that he required them to watch him do it,” the document alleges.
“Buck’s preference was to personally inject victims, and he pressured or incentivized victims to let him do so, sometimes offering large cash bonuses to coerce a victim to agree to an injection or additional injections. Other times, Buck simply injected victims while they were unconscious.”
The 34-page memo describes “party and play” sessions in which Buck allegedly paid men he sometimes solicited from online gay male dating and escort sites to use drugs he provided, and perform sexual acts.
“In these party and play sessions, defendant distributed drugs, including methamphetamine, clonazepam, and GHB, to his victims, and in some instances, injected them with drugs intravenously in a practice known as `slamming,”’ prosecutors wrote.
“Defendant exerted power and control over his victims, typically targeting vulnerable individuals who were destitute, homeless, and/or struggled with drug addiction, and exploited the relative wealth and power imbalance between them by offering them money to use drugs and let Buck inject them with drugs.”
Buck was arrested in September 2019 after being charged in federal court with providing the methamphetamine that led to the July 2017 overdose death of Moore. He was indicted weeks later in connection with the January 2019 death of Dean. He is also accused of enticing men to travel interstate to engage in prostitution.
“Sadly, neither of these deaths deterred defendant from continuing to distribute methamphetamine through party and play sessions,” prosecutors contend.
Buck is also accused of knowingly and intentionally distributing methamphetamine, and using his apartment for the purpose of distributing methamphetamine, and the sedatives gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and clonazepam.
“In addition to methamphetamine injections, defendant distributed methamphetamine to be smoked and pressured victims to stay as high as possible,” the document alleges.
“If a victim was not interested in using drugs, or used less than Buck wanted him to use, defendant refused to pay the person or reduced the person’s pay. Ultimately, if a victim refused to use methamphetamine too many times, Buck would lose interest and would no longer hire the person to party and play.”
Buck has been in custody at a downtown federal lockup since his arrest.
A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to raise money to help support the survivors and families of Moore and Dean for the duration of the trial, which is estimated to last two weeks in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.
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