Ed Buck Trial: Day One

Below is my summarization of the proceedings in 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 know, I know.

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

July 14, 2021

The day started with Judge Christina Snyder reading the jury their instructions.  The jury instructions were taken from the Ninth Circuit Model Criminal Jury Instructions

Ed Buck’s jury consists of 8 women, 4 men, 3 female alternates. One Black woman is on the jury. No other Blacks were selected.

Sadly, I did not get my Black Lady Jury.

Opening Statements

Defense attorney Christopher Darden, Ed Buck, and Darden’s co-counsel Ludlow Creary II

During the first full day of the Ed Buck trial, the Government (prosecution) gave their opening statement followed by the defense (attorneys representing Ed Buck) giving theirs.

The defense painted Ed Buck’s victims out to be prostitutes and drug addicts trying to take their clients’ money.  Christopher Darden delivered the opening statements for the defense and opined that all of Ed Buck’s victims went to his house willingly and engaged in party-and-play of their own free will–consenting adults.

Party and play — also called “chemsex” — is a subculture of drug use that occurs while having sex. Party and play has been widely associated with gay men and with men who have sex with other men, although it spans sexual preferences.

Darden said his client was a gay man and that’s why men were seen coming and going from his home and that’s why he frequented gay dating sites like Adam4Adam.

Darden also told the jury that his client was an advocate for animals, LGBT rights, and civil rights for African Americans.

Yes, you read that right.

Victim #1

Victim #1 (Black, male, 30-years-old) testified that another young Black man referred him to Ed Buck and that Buck paid him to party-and-play.  He testified that Buck offered him primarily crystal meth and GHB and frequently pressured him to “slam” meth rather than smoke it.  

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.

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

Buck would refuse to pay Victim #1 if he did not perform to Buck’s expectations.  Although Victim #1 regularly declined slamming meth, Buck once injected him with meth while he was unconscious and without his consent.  

Victim #1 testified that on one occasion Ed Buck gave him GHB. Buck saw Victim #1 was about to drink a Four Loko and told him, “Don’t do that. I don’t need another dead nigger on my couch.”

Four Loko is a blend of malt liquor and “natural and artificial flavors.”

When GHB is added to alcohol, the sedative and depressant effects are amplified, and a person may be more apt to fall victim to a crime like sexual assault and to get into an accident. They may be more prone to fall down and become injured, and more likely to act in a manner that is out of character.

Victim #1 also said that once he fell unconscious and woke up to Buck repeatedly slapping him in the face.  He said that Buck slapped him so hard that he loosened his tooth and made his face swell up.

The prosecution showed text messages between VIctim #1 and Buck to back that up.

Victim #1 says that on September 2, 2018, he was unconscious and woke up to Ed Buck sitting on his legs injecting him with crystal meth.  He said that Buck told him not to move because he had a needle in his arm.

Victim #1 said that he felt violated and that Buck had promised never to do that to him and if he did he would pay him a lot of money.

Victim #1 repeatedly said that he only did drugs with Buck because he needed money and was in fear for his life living on the streets and that he wanted a hotel room. He testified about living in several homeless encampments in South L.A. including one near 120th and Western called the “Devil’s Dips.” He said Ed Buck knew he was homeless.

Victim #1 told the defense on cross that he really wanted to get off the streets in answer to why he kept returning to Ed Buck’s.

He also said Ed Buck liked to set Victim #1’s private parts on fire, grab and flop Victim #1’s penis.

Liam Sacks, Ed Buck’s Neighbor 

Next on the stand was one of Ed Buck’s neighbors, Liam Sacks (white male).  

Liam testified that Ed Buck told him that he was a social worker and that the Black men he saw coming to his apartment were his clients.

As a (cigarette) smoker, Liam said he spent a lot of time outside and saw a lot of “mostly Black men” coming and going from Ed Buck’s apartment.

Liam said that after Gemmel Moore’s death in 2017, the traffic flow of men coming and going to Ed Buck’s slowed a little but then picked back up.  He said the same happened with Timothy Dean’s death.

Victim #2 

Victim #2 (Black, male, 34-years-old) testified that Buck liked his profile on Adam4Adam and invited him over to “party-and-play.”

Victim #2 said he didn’t do meth but Buck asked him repeatedly to do meth and offered to pay him more money to do it. He said Buck offered him a needle full of meth.

He said Buck got off sexually by smoking meth from a pipe and blowing it into a tube of which the other end was in the underwear of Victim #2.  Buck liked to watch the smoke come out of Victim #2’s underwear.

He said Buck showed him pictures of young Black men on his computer who were wearing white underwear.

Victim #2 also identified the red toolbox that he said was full of drugs.

He said Buck told him he’d pay for referrals of other young Black men like him. Victim #2 recommended his friend Victim #1 because he knew he was homeless and needed to make some money.

Eventually, Buck stopped talking to Victim #2 because he wouldn’t do meth.

Victim #3

Victim #3 was one of the young men I originally interviewed who reached out to me after I starting writing about Ed Buck.

Victim #3 confirmed as well that Ed Buck regularly injected himself with meth.

Buck tried to get him to slam and even offered him more money to do it which is consistent with the previous witness’s testimonies.

Victim #3 said that as a part of his fetish, Buck liked to put socks on Victim #3’s genitals and have him wear white underwear so that he could look at the “bulge.”

He said Buck would touch the bulge.

Victim #3 said that Ed Buck liked it when he was “zombie-ish”–out of it.

Victim #3 said that Ed Buck on occasion told him to, “bring his nigger dick over here.”

Buck showed Victim #3 lots of photos of men in white underwear with huge bulges.

Victim #3 said Buck is adamant about the partying in party-and-play. You have to do the drugs.

Victim #3 said Buck implied he’d get paid a bonus if he brought friends with him.

Victim #3 says he was paid between $700 and $1,000 each time he saw Buck and he estimated that to be about three times.

Victim #3 knew Gemmel Moore. They lived together for a year and often did escort work together.

An escort is someone who is paid for their time and often compared to a prostitute.  Escorts are not paid to have sex but are paid for their time. What they do within their time is their business, which could in fact be sex but not always.

On Victim #3’s cross-examination, the defense brought up the fact that through Justice4Gemmel and All of Ed Buck’s Victims, he was given a letter of immunity from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in order to speak with detectives.  The defense also took issue that he went to his interview with attorney Nana Gyamfi by his side.

James Potts, Detective

James Potts is a 16-year-veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department assigned to the Technical Operations Detail.

Det. Potts testified that he recovered video surveillance of Timothy Dean going into Ed Buck’s apartment on January 7, 2019, and of the man who almost died of an overdose in Ed Buck’s apartment in September of 2019.

LaTisha Nixon

Testimony concluded on Wednesday with Gemmel Moore’s mother LaTisha Nixon.

I do not believe there was a dry eye in the observation courtroom during her testimony.

Ludlow Creary whom I affectionately refer to has Christopher Darden’s flunkie, cross-examined Ms. Nixon and it was all I could do not to cuss him out when I saw him leaving the courthouse afterward.

He acted a complete ass.

The first question he asked Ms. Nixon was whether or not she was a plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit against Ed Buck.

The defense’s cross-examination tried to paint Ms. Nixon out to be a homophobic mother who thought her son had AIDS. They tried to get the jury to believe that Ms. Nixon didn’t really care about her son and basically kicked him out at 17-year-old and had no idea what her son was doing.

He reduced Ms. Nixon to tears and it was all we could do to console her when she got off the stand.

There’s a special place in hell waiting for Ludlow Creary and I think the jury saw his cross-examination for exactly what it was–grasping at straws and an attack on a grieving mother.

Wrap Up

I just want to say that I am incredibly proud of the men who testified about their experiences with Ed Buck. They were clearly uncomfortable, nervous, and out of their element on the witness stand. It took a lot of guts to do what they did. Remember–Ed Buck was in the courtroom just a few feet away from them sandwiched between his two Black lawyers.

Their testimonies were honest, authentic, and just as painful to hear as I know they were to give.

We believe you.

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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 daily trial updates.