Ed Buck convicted in Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean's meth overdose deaths.
Ed Buck, a long-standing fixture of West Hollywood politics, was convicted Tuesday of supplying the methamphetamine that killed two men during “party-and-play” encounters at his apartment.
After approximately four hours of deliberation, the jury found Buck guilty of all nine charges laid against him, including maintaining a drug den, distributing methamphetamine, and enticing people to cross state lines to engage in prostitution.
Buck, 66, faces the possibility of serving the remainder of his life in prison. Each conviction for providing the meth that resulted in death carries a mandatory minimum sentence of twenty years in prison.
The verdict came at the conclusion of a two-week trial that featured harrowing testimony from Black men hired by Buck, a white man, to demonstrate their bodies in underwear and get high on crystal meth and the party drug GHB. At the trial, excerpts from Buck's hundreds of graphic videos and photographs of the drugs-and-sex sessions were shown.
Buck's obsessive pursuit of his dangerous fetish resulted in the overdose deaths of two Black men in his apartment in July 2017 and January 2019: Gemmel Moore, 26, and Timothy Dean, 55.
Buck was arrested in September 2019, following the near-death of a third Black man to an overdose — a delay that sparked angry protests from activists accusing law enforcement officials of failing to aggressively investigate a politically influential white man. Buck, a former candidate for the West Hollywood City Council, has contributed more than $500,000 to political campaigns over the last two decades, almost entirely to Democrats.
The trial ended up providing a platform for the men Buck victimized. When Buck invited them over, several of them were homeless and relying on escort work to survive. The men testified that he compensated them extra for allowing him to inject them with meth. They stated that he took pleasure in watching them become so intoxicated that they lost control.
Buck touched several of the men sexually while they were asleep or unconscious, as evidenced by video played during the trial.
Following court rules requiring social distancing during the pandemic, the jury was spread out on the spectator benches in United States District Judge Christina A. Snyder's courtroom shortly after 2 p.m. as she read the verdict on each of the nine counts.
“I am aware that this has been a long, drawn-out, and difficult process,” Snyder told jurors. Snyder mentioned the possibility of offering counseling to traumatized jurors during the trial, but she made no mention of it on Tuesday.
Moore and Dean's family and friends erupted into applause in an overflow courtroom above Snyder's when the judge pronounced "guilty" for the first of nine times. Several members of the audience sobbed as Snyder read the jury's verdict sheet.
Assistant United States Attorney Chelsea Norell fell to her knees and sobbed in a courthouse corridor following the jury's dismissal. Norell was hugged by Assistant United States Attorney Lindsay Bailey, who prosecuted the case alongside her.
Cory McLean, a close friend of Moore's, hollered as he walked out of the federal courthouse on West 1st Street in downtown Los Angeles. McLean was carrying a small blue urn in which Moore's ashes were contained.
Buck's trial shed light on a particularly monstrous subculture within the gay community's drug culture. It detailed how the gay hookup site Adam4Adam allowed Buck to openly advertise in his profiles that he was seeking men to "party and play," a term commonly used to refer to the use of crystal meth during sexual encounters.
On the witness stand, several of the men who testified about using drugs in Buck's apartment broke down in tears. Several witnesses testified that while they were unconscious, Buck injected meth into their arms without their consent. Additionally, they detailed Buck's repeated use of racial slurs.
For friends of the second man discovered dead in Ed Buck's apartment, a fabricated version of his life exacerbates their anguish.
Timothy Dean took the plunge into a rooftop pool in West Hollywood in February, a month before his 55th birthday.
Buck's attorneys, Christopher Darden and Ludlow Creary, portrayed his accusers as dishonest drug addicts seeking financial gain.
"Did you inject or smoke meth prior to testifying?" Darden inquired Friday of one of the men.
“Certainly not,” the man replied.
When Darden inquired whether the man had attempted to frame Buck, the witness responded, "I'm here to speak the truth." I've come to share my story.”
Norell derisively referred to the defense's strategy as "despicable victim shaming."