A friend of D.C. Mayor Marion Barry's told a federal jury yesterday that the mayor said he "almost died" when he was rushed to a Los Angeles County hospital in January 1987, and that another friend of the mayor's who was there said that Barry had been smoking "cocaine laced with something."
The Barry friend who testified, Washington lawyer Lloyd N. Moore Jr., told the jury in Barry's drug conspiracy and perjury trial that he learned of Barry's alleged cocaine episode partly from Barry and partly from a telephone conversation with A. Jeffrey Mitchell, an old Barry friend who was with the mayor when he became ill. Mitchell accompanied the mayor to the hospital.
The prosecution has named Moore and Mitchell as co-conspirators in the criminal count against Barry alleging that the mayor conspired to possess cocaine between 1984 and 1990. Mitchell is expected to testify today.
The hospitalization occurred Jan. 26, 1987, the day after the Superbowl game in Los Angeles between the New York Giants and the Denver Broncos. A brutal snowstorm hit Washington that week, and the mayor came under severe criticism for being out of town, and then for seeming to shrug off city workers' poor performance in clearing streets.
At the time, Barry attributed the hospital visit to a recurrence of a hiatal hernia, a disorder that occurs when the hiatus, an opening in the diaphragm between the stomach and the esophagus, is stretched, often due to advancing age. Its symptoms can resemble heartburn and heart problems.
Barry said after the event that his hiatal hernia flared up because of job stress and because he had spent the weekend of the Superbowl drinking regularly but eating little.
Barry told an acquaintance then that he had been stricken while playing cards with Mitchell and two bodyguards in a house in Los Angeles's View Park section. "I got scared to death," Barry told the acquaintance. He also said he hesitated for about 20 minutes before calling an ambulance. "I knew if I called the ambulance, it would put me in the paper. I'm not dumb."
When ambulance workers arrived to take him to Daniel Freeman Memorial Hospital in Inglewood, Barry was sitting on a curb outside the View Park home.
Yesterday, Moore -- who is no relation to prosecution witness Hazel Diane "Rasheeda" Moore -- testified that Mitchell told him at the time that he made sure that doctors there did not take a sample of Barry's blood because it would have showed the presence of cocaine.
Defense lawyers objected to the introduction into evidence of Moore's recollection of his talk with Mitchell. But U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson overruled the defense, saying that because of Moore's and Mitchell's role as alleged co-conspirators, he would allow Moore's statement into evidence. Ordinarily, testimony recalling statements by another person not charged in a case is considered hearsay and is not admissible.
Over the objections of the defense, prosecutors yesterday played four brief films of news broadcasts in which Barry denied using drugs. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard W. Roberts argued to Jackson that the news clips were relevant because Barry's public denials of drug use were part of the conspiracy to conceal his cocaine addiction.
Barry attorney R. Kenneth Mundy got Jackson to agree to instruct the jury that news clips are relevant only to the one misdemeanor conspiracy count, not to any other charge.
In one clip, broadcast by WRC-TV (Channel 4) on Sept. 14, 1989, Barry told reporters, "Never in my lifetime have I used illegal drugs. I've said that over and over again."
Moore's law firm, Leftwich Moore & Douglas, has done legal work for the city, including representation of the D.C. school board in asbestos litigation. The firm is one of two acting as the city's general obligation bond counsel.
Moore said he was testifying under a grant of immunity from prosecution on drug charges.
He told the jury that he had used cocaine "five or six times" with Barry at Moore's Northwest Washington home. He also provided the mayor with cocaine on six to eight other occasions, he said, although on some of those occasions he said neither he nor Barry used the drug.
Moore's testimony echoed that of two other former Barry friends, Hassan H. Mohammadi and Charles Lewis. All three witnesses said that their socializing with the mayor usually involved making sure that either powdered cocaine or crack was on hand, and all three said that it was by unspoken agreement with Barry that they did so.
Moore also said that he accompanied Barry on a trip to the Bahamas in November 1988, and that he agreed to allow Barry girlfriend Theresa Southerland to stay in his room "to be out of the way of the press."
Southerland testified early in the day. The 27-year-old administrative secretary -- referred to by Barry by the nickname "Miss T" -- said that she first met Barry in December 1986 at Chapter Three, a nightclub in Southeast Washington.
She met him again in November 1987, she said, when a girlfriend invited her to a party for city employees at another Southeast nightclub. She said she and Barry began an affair that ended in October 1989. At their first meeting, she said, Barry invited her to meet him at the Michigan Avenue NE residence of a Barry friend, Tony Jones.
"I was there maybe half an hour" with Barry, she said. "I excused myself, I went into the bathroom and I came back and the cocaine was on the table" in a folded dollar bill, she added.
Altogether, she testified, she and Barry used cocaine on more than a dozen occasions between 1987 and 1989. She said she traveled to the Bahamas twice to meet the mayor -- once in November 1987 and again in 1988.
Southerland's testimony corroborated portions of the testimony given on Tuesday by Mohammadi about alleged cocaine use by Barry in the Bahamas on the November 1987 trip, as well as aboard two yachts here in the summer of 1988.
She backed up Mohammadi's testimony that on the November 1987 trip to the Bahamas, Mohammadi paid her hotel bill.
She said she and Barry also used cocaine together at the homes of Lloyd Moore; Barry friend Daniel Butler; R. Donahue Peebles, formerly head of the D.C. board overseeing property tax assessment appeals; as well as at the Pardis Cafe, the Georgetown restaurant that Mohammadi owned until recently. At Pardis, she said, she tried opium with Barry, but she didn't like the way it made her feel.
"It had a funny taste," she said. "It made me very lightheaded."
Most of the time, she said, she supplied the cocaine for her meetings with Barry, buying it from street dealers near Montana Avenue NE.
Moore, too, said he paid for the drugs he and Barry used, usually $50 worth of cocaine at a time. Moore said that he and Barry used cocaine together from May 1986 to March 1987. At that point, he said, he quit using cocaine "with any regularity."
Moore also corroborated Southerland's testimony that she and Barry used Moore's home as a meeting place during their affair. On about five occasions, Moore said, Barry and Southerland would arrive separately at his home, have a drink with him downstairs, then disappear to one of the upstairs bedrooms for anywhere from half an hour to several hours.
On one occasion, he said, Barry called him on the telephone from upstairs, and invited him to join him and Southerland. When he went upstairs, Moore said, Barry was lying on the bed and there was cocaine on the dresser. The two invited him to join them in snorting the cocaine, he said, but he "didn't want to."
On cross-examination, Barry co-counsel Robert W. Mance brought up that incident again, asking Moore if he ever actually saw Barry or Southerland use the cocaine.
"No," Moore replied.
Mance also elicited testimony from Moore that he did not actually witness any cocaine use by Barry and Rasheeda Moore at a New Year's Day party in 1987 at his own house. Moore had testified that Barry and Rasheeda Moore "disappeared" upstairs for a time during that gathering.
In addition, Mance touched on a subject that has come up on several occasions in the past two days: Barry's alcohol use.
"He drank a lot," Moore said in response to Mance's inquiry about whether Barry was "a regular drinker." Usually, Moore added, "the first thing he would do when he came in would be to pour himself a drink . . . usually a shot of cognac."
In a later bench conference, prosecutor Roberts elaborated on Moore's recollection of his talk with Mitchell about the Los Angeles incident. "Mr. Mitchell accompanied the defendant to the hospital and tried to keep the hospital from taking certain blood tests because of his suspicions there was some cocaine laced with something," Roberts said.
Staff writers Barton Gellman and Elsa Walsh and researcher Matthew Lee contributed to this report.