Catherine Evelyn Smith, a part-time rock singer who said she gave comedian John Belushi a dose of heroin and cocaine the morning he died, was taken into custody tonight in Canada on a California charge of murder.
Smith, accompanied by an attorney, surrendered to Toronto homicide officers shortly after 9 p.m. and was being held for a Monday court hearing, said police Sgt. Steven Harris.
Earlier today, Constable Bill Thomson of the Toronto police said in a telephone interview that his department had received a Los Angeles warrant for Smith's arrest on one count of murder and 13 counts of administering a dangerous drug in connection with Belushi's March 5, 1982, death here.
Los Angeles County District Attorney Robert H. Philibosian said he could not comment on the indictment, believed to have been returned by a grand jury Thursday. He said California law requires that indictments remain sealed until the person named has been arrested or arraigned. Los Angeles prosecutors said previously that Smith could be indicted only for second-degree murder, although Thomson said the warrant does not specify the severity of the charge.
Smith, 35, the last person to see the actor-writer-comedian alive, was questioned but released by police after Belushi, 33, was found dead in his $200-a-day bungalow at the Chateau Marmont Hotel on Sunset Boulevard here. She returned to her Toronto home, and the Los Angeles coroner attributed Belushi's death to an accidental overdose of heroin and cocaine, a combination called "speedballing."
The district attorney's office here reopened the case after a June 29 article in the National Enquirer, headlined "I Killed John Belushi," quoted Smith as saying she had injected Belushi with the drugs. "I didn't mean to do it, but I was responsible for his death," Smith was quoted as saying in the interview, for which she was reportedly paid $15,000. Smith later recanted and said she had been under the influence of alcohol and drugs when she spoke with National Enquirer reporters.
The Toronto Sun today printed what it said was an interview Thursday night with Smith in a Toronto hotel. "I know they're going to arrest me," she was quoted as saying. "They're trying to find a scapegoat."
One of Smith's attorneys, Toronto lawyer Milton Davis, has said in the past that his client would fight extradition to the United States if she were indicted. Canadian authorities said that one of Smith's lawyers, Brian Greenspan, had told them he would fight Smith's extradition, the Associated Press reported.
At the time of his death, Belushi, an explosive and inventive actor and comedian who starred on the "Saturday Night Live" television show and appeared in seven movies, was under heavy pressure to finish writing a movie script. He had stayed up most of the previous night, reportedly eating and drinking heavily and taking drugs. He spent some time during the night with actors Robert De Niro and Robin Williams as well as with Smith.
The National Enquirer gave prosecutors six to eight hours of tape recordings from its interview with Smith. Deputy District Attorney Michael Montagna later said the tapes supported "in substance" Smith's statements in the article. The grand jury also heard testimony from Williams and from Enquirer reporters.
Iain Calder, editor of the National Enquirer, said shortly after its Smith interview that he had a tape of another interview by Smith, this one with a Los Angeles free-lance writer, in which Smith said she injected Belushi with the drugs at 3:30 the morning he died.
Tonight Judy Belushi, the comedian's widow, telephoned The Washington Post with a statement:
"I believe the Los Angeles district attorney's office displayed strength of conscience and character by requesting a charge of second degree murder in this difficult and controversial case. And, most importantly, I hope the tragedy of John's death will have broader social ramifications from which we learn, grow and become a healthier society."