Ed Buck Trial: Day Five

Below is my summarization of the proceedings on the fifth day of Democratic donor Ed Buck’s federal criminal trial.

In USA v. Edward Buck, Buck is charged in a nine-count first superseding indictment with distribution of methamphetamine resulting in death, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C) (Counts 1 and 2); distribution of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C) (Counts 2 through 6); maintaining a drug premises, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 856(a)(1) (Count 7); and enticement to travel for purposes of prostitution, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2422(a) (Counts 8 and 9).

Buck has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is represented by Christopher Darden and Ludlow Creary II. I

TRIGGER WARNING: Reading further may be disturbing, even traumatizing, to some people who are sensitive to drug use, racial slurs, or sadomasochism.

July 21, 2021

Steven Kline, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

Criminalist Steven Kline testified that he tested the nine syringes found in the package outside Buck’s window on the day Timothy Dean died in 2019.  Kline testified that 7 of the 9 tested positive for methamphetamine.  He said that some of the needles had less meth residue than others.  The jury was shown all of the needles.

Mark LaVigne, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

Criminalist Mark LaVigne testified that he tested the meth pipes found outside Buck’s window following the Timothy Dean overdose death, which tested positive for methamphetamine, and the suspected klonopin found in Buck’s apartment during the September 2019 search, which tested positive for clonazepam.  

Clonazepam, brand name Klonopin, is a sedative. It’s a controlled substance that can cause paranoid or suicidal ideation and impair memory, judgment, and coordination. Combining with other substances, particularly alcohol, can slow breathing and possibly lead to death.

Caroline Whitehead, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

Caroline Whitehead testified that she was a toxicologist with Quest Diagnostic and ran the toxicology screen ordered by Dr. Amar Shah on September 4, 2019. The results showed 5,500 ng/mL amphetamine and >20,000 ng/mL methamphetamine in the urine of the man who escaped Ed Buck’s apartment with his life in September 2019.

Donald Schulze, Ed Buck’s Drug Dealer

Donald Schulze, also known as Taylor Thomas to his clients, testified that he sold meth to Buck on at least 20 occasions between May 2018 and January 2019, including

on January 5, 2019, the day before Timothy Dean went to Buck’s apartment and died the next morning.  Schulze testified that Buck started off buying $100 worth of meth, equivalent to 7 grams, and then moved up to buying 14 grams of meth just about every week from him.  Buck once bought 28 grams.

Schulze, who is from Tujunga, said that he met Ed Buck through a mutual friend he called “J” in 2018.  Interesting. I know a friend of Buck’s whose name starts with J.  This same friend went out of his way to discourage witnesses to come forward to the police about Ed Buck after the death of Gemmel.  This person was/is also an attorney for Ed Buck.  I wonder if it’s the same person.  I’ll have to do research and request some documents to find out.

Schulze also testified that he typically dropped off the meth to Buck outside Buck’s apartment on Laurel. However, they met in various strip mall parking lots around West Hollywood including on Sunset and Fairfax where Buck wore dark sunglasses and tried to appear incognito because he told Schulze the media was following him.  That was probably CBS 2’s David Goldstein.  He also testified he sold meth to Ed Buck at a U.S. Post Office off Sherman Way and at a needle exchange location in Hollywood.

The jury was shown multiple text messages between Buck and Schulze that confirmed their meetups for their meth deals.

For Christmas, Schulze gave Ed Buck 7 grams of meth for free as a present to which Buck texted him, “WOW THANKS.”

During Schulze’s cross-examination, the defense highlighted the fact that he admitted on his direct examination that he had made a deal with the feds in order not to be prosecuted for selling drugs. Well, duh.

Romy Haas, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

Crime Analyst Romy Haas is a cell-site expert who analyzed data from Donald Schulze’s the drug dealer’s cellphone for the dates on which Schulze testified he met with Buck.  Haas testified that, on many of these occasions, cell-site data suggests that Schulze’s phone was in the vicinity of cell towers near Buck’s apartment.  Jurors were shown graphics showing where Schulze’s phone pinged cell phone towers in correlation to Ed Buck’s address at 1234 N. Laurel Avenue.

Victim #6

Victim #6 was a 49-year-old white man who walked into court wearing a black polo shirt and sporting a mohawk.

He testified that on February 19, 2019, just a little over a month after Timothy Dean died in Buck’s apartment of an overdose, Buck approached him at an ATM machine in West Hollywood and invited him to party and play at his apartment.  Victim #6 was homeless at the time and suffered from meth addiction.

Victim #6 testified that Buck had a very controlled environment where guests had a station. Buck, led him to believe that cameras were everywhere.  Victim #6 had to ask permission to go to the bathroom and all of the “play” props were meticulously organized (which corroborates other victim accounts). 

Victim #6 testified that on his first visit to Buck’s he thought Buck’s setup was atypical from the normal for party and play.

“It was a lot of all of it. Lots of underwear,” Victim #6 told the jury.

Buck provided Victim #6 with meth and GHB and insisted on keeping him as high as possible. 

GHB, or gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, is an illegal drug that is often manufactured in illicit laboratories and passed around at clubs and raves. Often referred to as liquid ecstasy, Georgia homeboy, G, easy lay, grievous bodily harm, and goop, GHB is generally distributed as a clear and colorless liquid or a white powder that is dissolved in liquid.

GHB is known to lower inhibitions, make a person more passive and open to suggestion, and potentially heighten libido. These methods of action on the brain and body make GHB a candidate for use as a date rape drug, often without the victim knowing they are taking it.

GHB is also a depressant drug. It can lower anxiety and may lead to drowsiness and mental confusion. In large amounts, it may cause hallucinations, aggression, and overexcitement.

Victim #6 said that he couldn’t inject himself and that Buck did it.

He also said that Buck told him that it was unusual for him to hang out with a white guy.

Victim #6 said he stayed that first visit a few days because being homeless–that was what you did–stay until you wear out your welcome. He said that during that time Buck injected him with meth 5 or 6 times.

When Victim #6 decided to leave Ed Buck got mad. He wanted Victim #6 to slam and Victim #6 said he had stuff he needed to do.

Slamming’ is the term used to describe the action of injecting meth, typically in relation to gay and bisexual men

Victim #6 testified that Ed Buck exerted control over him, that it was like a power trip–also confirming previous accounts of victims.

When Victim #6 left Ed Buck’s he got sober for the first time and that lasted for two and half months. He said something bad happened to him that put him under a lot of pressure and he had decided to relapse and reached out to Ed Buck.

On May 28, 2019 Victim #6 went to Ed Bucks.  He said that Ed Buck had him wear a gas mask. He also said that he felt like Ed Buck gave him a hotshot and that it was too much.

A hotshot is an intentionally lethal dose of a drug that is introduced into the body by way of intravenous injection.

Speaking about the meth injection, Victim #6 said, “The injection was prepared far and beyond what I usually take and it took me to the edge of consciousness.  It was too much.”

Victim #6 never saw Ed Buck again after that.

On cross-examination, Christopher Darden said that party and play was a part of the lifestyle in West Hollywood and among gay men.

“Let’s do meth and have sex!”

Darden, stuck to his strategy of shaming and blaming the victims for anything that happened to him at Ed Buck’s.

During his opening, Darden said that Ed Buck’s behavior was no different than millions of other men like him.

Victim #7

Victim #7 walked into court wearing Gucci from head to toe and wasn’t there to play.

Polite and respectful, Victim #7, explained to the jury that he met Ed Buck on Adam4Adam when Buck reached out to him.  

Adam4Adam is an online dating website designed for men to meet other men “for friendship, romance, or a hot hookup”

He explained Buck’s Adam4Adam profile name was “forfourplay.”

During the pre-screening text messages, Buck asked him, “do you just admin?”

Admin means to inject crystal meth.

Buck sent an Uber to Koreatown to pick up Victim #7 on December 2, 2018.

“When I arrived, I was instructed to–because I told him I was bringing my stuff for school because I had school the next day–and I was told to be very quiet, not bring any attention to myself. And he threw the keys to me outside the window, which took me forever to find.”

Victim #7 that when he walked into Buck’s apartment he saw an apartment that wasn’t really all together with blue walls and a dirty couch with a mattress on the floor.

“He insisted that I take a dick pill–excuse me–an erection pill. And so I took that. I told him I didn’t want a Viagra. So he told me he’ll give me a Cialis.”

Cialis is used to treat erectile dysfunction and enlarged prostate.

The prosecution asked if Victim #7 took the pill with any sort of drink? 

“Yes ma’am. I took it with a lime soda.”

Victim #7 said that ed Buck gave him the soda in a cup with ice.

Victim #7  said that later Ed Buck told him that he had slipped him a klonopin because he was too uptight and needed to loosen up.

He said that he was told to wear a gas mask with a tube coming out of it but that he couldn’t breathe with the mask on.  He said Buck put on the mask and blew smoke from a meth pipe into a tube into Victim #7’s underwear and into his mouth.

Victim #7 identified the red toolbox containing sex toys and the flashlight with the false bottom.

He corroborated the accounts of the victims I interviewed about Ed Buck referring to the red fabric hanging up by the front door as the “Gate of Hell.”

Victim #7 said that Ed Buck had the injections ready and that he wanted to inject him immediately.  

“And then Mr. Buck insisted that he do it. He wanted to do it from the get-go. But um, you know, he is–he was very shaky, and he ended up missing that night on my arm.”

He said that as he was floating in and out of consciousness Ed Buck was choking and slapping him.  He said that Buck stopped to caress his face at one point.

When Victim #7 finally came too, he said he woke up to Ed Buck coming at him with two needles.

“He was walking towards me with two points in his hands. Two needles filled with crystals.”

Victim #7 said that Buck told him, “the party is just getting started.”

Victim #7 said that he reminded Buck of their agreement and that he had to get ready for school. He said that he got nervous because of Buck’s attitude about him wanting to leave so he texted a friend to come and get him.

The jury was shown the text message.

Victim #7 said that Buck threw his money on the counter, he took it and left.

On December 15, 2018, Victim #7 said he returned to Ed Buck’s apartment.

The jury was shown a message exchange between Buck and Victim #7 from Adam4Adam.

Buck said, “wanna join me in the clouds tonight? Just hitting on a pipe wanna come by?”

The prosecution asked Victim #7 what did Buck me by “hitting on a pipe.”

Victim #7 said, “Buck was smoking crystal or crack.”

The jury was shown photos of Victim #7 in Buck’s apartment on that day.

Victim #7 said that Ed Buck was adamant that he watch him prepare the needles of meth. 

He noticed that Buck was using one bag for one needle and another bag for another needle which he thought was very odd. He said that he told Buck he wants the same meth that Buck is taking and not from a different bag.

“And I just didn’t understand how–why somebody would go into two different bags and neither one of them was almost empty. You had to be in this situation or know anything about the life in order to get what I’m saying.”

Victim #7 said that as soon as Buck injected him, he went down.

“I went down. I lost mobility. I could not–I couldn’t move.  The only thing I could move were [sic] my eyeballs.”

Victim #7 estimated that he was down on the ground for 5 or six hours.

I was 100% aware of everything that was going on. My eyes were open. I could hear. I just couldn’t lift my fingers. I couldn’t move my tongue. I couldn’t move anything. 

“He [Buck] was scrambling around the apartment, you know, the whole entire time. Not once did he come and check me and ask me was I okay?”

Victim #7 said that Buck then came out of the closet with a chainsaw.

The jury had previously seen photos of a chainsaw in Buck’s utility closet.

Victim #7 continued, “He started walking towards me with a chainsaw. It was so loud. That scared of me.”

Victim #7 said that Buck had a look on his face.

He said Buck refused to pay him and he even had another person come over to make him leave.  He said that Buck eventually sent him his money via Zelle.

The jury saw the Zelle payment of $300.

Victim #7 says that he arranged for Ed Buck to prepay for another session while he was in New York. Buck paid him $150 and the jury saw the payment records.

They arranged for Victim #7 to come back to Ed Buck’s house on January 6 but Victim #7 had a conflict and couldn’t make it. Victim #7 said he woke up to the news of Timothy Dean’s death.

“I woke up to the news of what he had done.”

Following Dean’s death, Ed Buck began to leave voicemails asking Victim #7 to come over but he never did.

The defense objected to the voicemails being played for the jury so they didn’t hear them. I published them back in 2019 when I interviewed Victim #7.

Victim #7 gave it back to the defense the same way he got it.  It became contentious at times.

Christopher Darden: So you were an escort in December of 2018, right? 

Victim #7: Yes, sir. 

Christopher Darden: You’re a prostitute right.

Victim #7: No, an escort. A prostitute walks the streets.

Christopher Darden: You sell sex.

Victim #7: No, I don’t sell sex.  I don’t have sex with all of my clients.

Christopher Darden: Did you have sex with Mr. Buck?

Victim #7: No, because he can’t have sex. He’s incompetent–impotent.

The subject turned to Buck injecting Victim #7.

Christopher Darden: On this first time, Mr. Buck tried to inject you but his hand was shaking.  Is that right?

Victim #7: He’s old, his hand was shaky. Yeah. 

When Victim #7 concluded his testimony and left the stand, he stopped and gave the shadiest wave to Ed Buck on his way out of the courtroom.

Dr. Shaun Carstairs, Emergency Physician and Toxicologist

Dr. Shaun Carstairs testified to how drugs act in the body after someone dies. He spoke about how levels can be higher or lower and the tests used to figure out how many drugs are in a deceased person.  

He discussed the effects that meth has on the human body as well as how people build up a tolerance over time when taking meth.

Dr. Carstairs testified that the amount of meth found in Gemmel Moore’s body was of the fatal range.  He also testified that he saw no evidence to suggest that HIV was a contributing factor to his death.

He testified that the amount of meth found in Timothy Dean was of the fatall range and that Dean’s underlying heart condition placed him at a greater risk for dying from meth. 

Prosecution: Would you agree that but for his consumption of methamphetamine on January 7, 2019, Mr. Dean would not die?

Dr. Carstairs: Yes

Wrap Up

So I may have cussed out Christopher Darden when he attempted to enter an elevator I was on in the courtroom. If that happened it was because I was triggered by the sight of him.

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Jasmyne Cannick is an award-winning journalist, political strategist, and popular television and radio commentator on race, politics, and social issues.

She’s been covering and chasing Ed Buck since August 2017.

You can read her previous coverage of Ed Buck, including the trial here.

Cannick founded Justice for Gemmel and All of Ed Buck’s Victims to extend her advocacy for the survivors and victims of Ed Buck beyond her journalism, leveraging both her political acumen and savviness with her community relationships.

Follow her on Twitter @Jasmyne for realtime trial updates.