The first week of Ed Buck's federal trial in Los Angeles closed Friday with disturbing evidence that left the jury shaken, according to journalist and Advocate contributor Jasmyne Cannick, who has been pushing for Buck's arrest since August 2017.
Buck, a once-prominent businessman and Democratic donor, faces nine federal-level felony counts, two of which are distribution of controlled substances resulting in death. Gemmel Moore, 26, died in Buck’s home in July 2017, and Timothy Dean, 55, died there in January 2019. Prosecutors say Buck had a fetish for drugging Black men with whom he had sexual encounters, and that Moore and Dean were among many with whom he engaged.
The first days of the trial had prosecutors laying out Buck's obsession with "party and play," or having sex under the influence of drugs, often meth. Buck allegedly paid vulnerable Black men — often homeless and looking for a place to escape the streets — to come to his home and coerced them to inject meth until they were near death. Buck would occasionally have sexual encounters with the men, but evidence appeared to show Buck sexually assaulting some of them while they were unconscious or nearly so.
Buck recorded nearly all of his encounters, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department recovered over 2,400 videos on Buck’s computers, cell phones, and iCloud account, according to Cannick. Of the 2,400, over 1,500 contained instances of drug use.
Speaking to The Advocate, Cannick described a wrenching day on Friday, where jurors and those attending the proceedings were shown some of Buck's videos. Some of the clips displayed Buck and/or his victims smoking meth from a pipe with rubber tubing while wearing a black leather hood mask or Blackface masks; other videos showed Buck directing the men on how he wanted them to smoke meth.
"In one such video, Ed Buck told a Black man to flare his nostrils and open his eyes really wide while facing the camera and blowing smoke from a meth pipe," Cannick reported on her blog. Some of the videos showed Buck referring to the men as the n word and other racist terms.
After a party and play session that left one of Buck's "guests" unconscious, Buck apparently sent a text message to another individual advising him to come over to his West Hollywood apartment: "He’s about passed out. It’d be cool to have you come over and jerk him off," Buck texted to the unnamed person, according to the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.
There were several videos of Moore, including clips showing Buck blowing smoke into his underwear via a tube. One video shows Moore asking Buck to not record his face, a request Buck clearly disregarded. Another video shows Moore telling Buck he's not sure he can "slam" (inject) any additional meth. Buck responds that he’s there to make Moore "offers and indecent proposals."
Cannick described how many of his alleged victims were not drug addicts or did not do drugs, but in order to get paid by Buck were forced to do them. Moore described in his journals that he had never done meth before he met Buck.
"One particularly disturbing video — and they were all disturbing — Gemmel Moore is unconscious and Ed Buck is playing with his penis," Cannick wrote. "Buck is seen grabbing, twisting, and posing Gemmel’s penis for the camera."
"Ed Buck is Jeffrey Dahmer 2.0," Cannick wrote on her website, referencing the Wisconsin serial killer and cannibal who often targeted fellow gay men. "Quote me."
Sgt. Paul Cardella of the Sheriff’s Department, a witness for the prosecution, presented and described the video and phone evidence to the jury. The defense, led by attorneys Ludlow Creary II and former O.J. Simpson prosecutor Christopher Darden, declined to cross-examine Cardella.
Instead, Creary and Darden used their cross-examinations of other witnesses, which included criminalists and medical examiners, to denigrate Moore and Dean and paint them as careless drug addicts with AIDS. Earlier in the trial, the defense has questioned a neighbor of Buck's who testified that numerous Black men had exited Buck's apartment looking severly impaired and under the influence of drugs or alcohol. As Cannick reported, Darden suggested that the men leaving Buck's apartment in a stupor may just have had AIDS.