Ed Buck, the West Hollywood activist and Democratic political donor, was convicted on Tuesday on all nine charges in the deaths of two Black gay men who overdosed in his apartment.
The jury took little more than four hours to convict Buck for the 2017 death of Gemmel Moore, 26, and the 2019 death of Timothy Dean, 55, following a two-week trial.
Prosecutors successfully argued Buck had injected the two homeless men with lethal doses of methamphetamine resulting in their overdose deaths after luring them to his apartment with promises of money and shelter in exchange for drugs and sex. The case and lack of prosecution outraged activists and the families of the victims, noting the 18-month window between the two deaths, as well as an additional overdose of another gay Black man during the period. With the convictions, Buck, 66, will likely remain behind bars for the rest of his life. Two of the most serious convictions carry a minimum of 20 years in jail.
"Ed Buck will never harm anyone else, and I thank God for that," Timothy Dean's sister, Joyce Jackson, was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as telling reporters following the convictions.
"Today is bittersweet," LaTisha Nixon, Moore's mother, said as well. "We got victory today."
Moore was found dead in Buck's West Hollywood apartment on July 27, 2017. Local authorities refused to prosecute the political heavy-hitter following the death, even after Moore's journal was discovered and told of an endless cycle of drugs, addiction, and sex at the hands of Buck.
"My life is at an alltime [sic] high right now & I mean that from all ways," Moore had written in his journal, excerpts of which were posted on the Justice4Gemmel website. "I ended up back at Buck [sic] house again and got munipulated [sic] into slamming again. I even went to the point where I was forced to doing 4 within a 2day [sic] period. This man is crazy and its [sic] sad. Will I ever get help?" ("Slamming" is a slang term that is used to mean injecting drugs.)
Timothy Dean died 18 months later in September of 2019 under nearly identical circumstances. Despite this, another nine months passed and an additional overdose at his apartment happened before authorities finally arrested Buck. He was charged in federal court after state and local prosecutors refused to prosecute.
One of the men who suffered a near-death overdose after being injected with methamphetamine by Buck testified about his experience at the trial.
"I didn't think I was going to be believed," Dane Brown, whose overdose led to the eventual arrest of Buck, told reporters outside the courthouse following the verdict. "I'm so relieved that these families can get the justice they deserve because they're the ones who suffered pain more than I did. I made it out alive, but they're suffering because they had to lose someone."
Buck was a big-time player in West Hollywood politics, having run for city council and advocated for various local causes. He also made over $500,000 in campaign donations over the years, almost exclusively to Democrats. Black activists accused local prosecutors of allowing Buck's political connections and his white privilege to influence their decision to not prosecute him initially.
"This man did some terrible things to human beings," another of Dean's sisters, Joann Campbell, said after the verdict.
Moore's final journal entry was both chilling and telling.
"If it didn't hurt so bad, I'd kill myself, but I'll let Ed Buck do it for now," Moore wrote shortly before he died.
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