Brian Lee Tribble, the man on trial on charges of supplying the cocaine that killed University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias, was found not guilty last night by a Prince George's County Circuit Court jury.

As jury foreman Douglas R. Wilson read the verdicts, Tribble locked arms with his attorneys at the defense table, his mother gasped and his sister whispered "praise God." Then, the two women cried. Tribble, with eyes red and welling, turned toward his mother, Loretta Tribble, and embraced her.

"All we had on our side was God and Mr. Morrow," Loretta Tribble said, referring to her son's attorney, Thomas C. Morrow.

The trial was expected to resolve a mystery surrounding Len Bias' death: who supplied the cocaine for the early-morning party June 19 to celebrate Bias' selection by the National Basketball Association's Boston Celtics that ended with Bias unconscious on the floor of his Washington Hall dormitory suite.

The trial did not answer the question, as reflected in the jury verdict, reached after about five hours of deliberation. Wilson said last night that the matter of who supplied the cocaine "was not determined."

Outside of the county courthouse, as passers-by yelled words of support, Tribble tried to answer rapid-fire questions from a score of reporters.

"I am so overwhelmed," Tribble said. "I've gone through so much. I can't describe it. It's something you'd have to experience. I loved Len Bias, always have, always will."

Prosecutor Robert Bonsib said he disagreed with the jury's verdict, but would accept it. "The jury apparently didn't believe our witnesses," Bonsib said.

Tribble, 24, of Northeast Washington was charged with distributing cocaine, possessing cocaine with intent to distribute it, possessing cocaine and conspiracy to distribute and possess cocaine. He faced up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Prosecutors are reevaluating whether to proceed with obstruction of justice charges pending against Tribble.

Earlier, during closing arguments, prosecutor Bonsib said Tribble's friendship with Bias was false and that Tribble exploited Bias' weaknesses.

"We could have tried to protect {Bias'} perfect reputation, but our job . . . is simply to lay out to you the facts as they are presented to us," said Bonsib.

"Len Bias is not a bad man," Bonsib said. "He was a role model. He was a hero.

"But our heroes are human beings," Bonsib said. "They have weaknesses. His weakness was that he liked cocaine."

Morrow, Tribble's attorney, said prosecutors used Tribble as a scapegoat in Bias' death. "If Len Bias were here today," Morrow said, "Len Bias would be ashamed of the state of Maryland."

Morrow called the prosecution's case "the worst kind of hearsay, speculation, rumor and innuendo," and said that Bonsib and prosecutor Jeffrey L. Harding had no choice but to continue the "Salem witch hunt" started last summer by then-Prince George's State's Attorney Arthur A. (Bud) Marshall Jr. Marshall's handling of the case had been criticized and he was defeated for reelection.

Wayne Curry, the Bias family attorney who was present when the verdict was read, called the decision a victory for the basketball star's reputation.

" "Had Len Bias been here to defend himself against the scurrilous allegations that were made to justify the state's conduct, he, too, would have been acquitted," Curry said.

Curry said the Bias family had no opinions on Tribble's guilt or innocence. "They did not concern themselves with Brian Tribble's confrontation with the state," he said. "It wasn't the defense that defamed Len Bias over the last week."

A key part of the state's case was that Bias and Tribble were part of an alleged conspiracy to distribute or possess cocaine. One state witness, self-described cocaine dealer Terrence Anthony Moore, testified that he sold drugs for Tribble in Northeast Washington and often saw Bias there.

But jurors interviewed last night said Moore was not a credible witness. And they said that testimony from Bias' teammates Terry Long and David Gregg -- who testified for the prosecution after cocaine possession and obstructing justice charges against them were dismissed -- was not corroborated by others, as is required under Maryland law.

"We heard the case {prosecutors} put on, and it wasn't worthy of a guilty verdict," said Wilson. Staff writer Sally Jenkins contributed to this report.