Two longtime women friends of D.C. Mayor Marion Barry's testified yesterday that they used cocaine with him on numerous occasions since the mid-1980s, and one of them said she smoked crack with Barry on the night of the Ramada Inn episode in December 1988 at another downtown hotel.
The testimony from Barry friend Doris Crenshaw about his alleged cocaine use that night could be important to the government's drug and perjury case against the mayor, sources close to both sides said yesterday, because it indirectly lends credence to witness Charles Lewis's account of drug use at the Ramada earlier that day.
At the same time, other parts of Crenshaw's testimony, and that of witness Bettye L. Smith, could raise questions in jurors' minds about two other counts.
Smith and Crenshaw were the ninth and 10th witnesses, respectively, to testify that they had used drugs with Barry.
At the end of yesterday's testimony, Assistant U.S. Attorney Judith E. Retchin told U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson that the government plans to question its last witness, D.C. police Detective James Pawlik, today.
Barry lawyer R. Kenneth Mundy told Jackson that the defense case would run through next Monday, and that his witnesses would include FBI agents who interviewed Lewis, the first witness to cooperate with the government. Mundy said he wants to show that Lewis was looking for a "reward" in return for his cooperation.
Barry friend Smith did not testify voluntarily. She was arrested Monday at a Chattanooga, Tenn., hospital on a warrant Jackson issued because of her apparent reluctance to testify, and was brought here yesterday by U.S. marshals aboard a chartered plane.
Smith, a former employee of the city's financial adviser, W.R. Lazard & Co., testified yesterday that she had used drugs with Barry on numerous occasions dating back to 1983, the earliest year mentioned by any prosecution witness.
In addition yesterday, Louis Farrakhan made his first appearance at the trial since Jackson, under pressure from the U.S. Court of Appeals, reversed his decision barring the Nation of Islam leader from the courtroom.
Farrakhan hugged Barry after entering the courtroom, then watched the proceedings quietly.
Crenshaw's testimony that Barry smoked crack at another location and with a separate group of people on the same day he allegedly used the drug at the Ramada could back up charges that Barry lied to a grand jury about his knowledge that Lewis was involved in drugs. Barry had visited Lewis at the Ramada.
Crenshaw, a former Barry political ally who works as a business consultant in Montgomery, Ala., testified that she was in the District on Dec. 22, 1988, and that she received a call from Barry that night. Barry asked her to meet him at the Park Hyatt Hotel, Crenshaw testified, at the suite of Barry friend Willie Davis.
There, Crenshaw testified, she was invited to smoke crack with Davis and the mayor. Crenshaw, who testified that she had first used powder cocaine with Barry in 1984, said this was her first experience smoking crack. She testified that she tried to inhale twice, but her attempts were "not very good."
"I'd been invited to try it before, but I left it alone," Crenshaw testifed. "I have a fear of it."
Crenshaw also testified that she and Barry used cocaine at a hotel in Atlanta during the 1988 Democratic Convention.
Barry's trial had been delayed Monday while prosecutors waited for Smith to appear.
Prosecutors needed Smith's testimony to bolster one of the 10 drug possession charges against the mayor: the count alleging he possessed cocaine between New Year's Day 1990 and Jan. 18, the day he was arrested at the Vista Hotel in the government's sting. But Smith said she was unsure of the exact date on which she gave Barry a small amount of cocaine at her house. She said it might have been as early as Christmas 1989.
Smith said that on that occasion, the mayor took the cocaine with him to the bathroom, where she could not see whether he used the drug. When he returned, he gave cocaine back to her, she testified.
Similarly, Crenshaw said she could not be sure that she used cocaine with Barry in early November 1989, a date listed in the indictment, or during one of her two other trips here that fall.
In her testimony, Crenshaw filled in more details of Barry's activities on Dec. 22, the day the mayor visited Lewis at the Ramada. Lewis and other witnesses testified that Barry visited the Ramada shortly after noon, just as two D.C. detectives arrived to attempt an undercover drug purchase from Lewis. The officers broke off their investigation when a hotel official realized the mayor was in Lewis's room.
Lewis testified that he and Barry smoked crack that day and that soon after the mayor left, a Washington Post reporter knocked on his door to ask about the mayor and drugs. That interview, Lewis said, touched off a flurry of calls between himself, Barry and others.
Later that night, Crenshaw testified yesterday, the mayor met her at Davis's suite. A former aide to Birmingham Mayor Richard Arrington, Davis was named by prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Barry case, and has been mentioned several times by other witnesses. He has not been subpoenaed to testify by either side, and could not be reached for a comment.
Crenshaw also shed light on another question. On the Vista videotape, Barry phoned a "D.C." -- it turned out to be Crenshaw -- at the Washington Hilton, and he spoke of getting "jello." Even Jackson became curious enough to ask FBI informer Hazel Diane "Rasheeda" Moore whether she knew what the word meant. Moore said no.
Yesterday, Crenshaw testified she was talking about Jell-O. She had been suffering from an upset stomach and wanted Barry to bring some, she said.
Crenshaw's attorney, A.J. Cooper, read a statement to reporters yesterday saying she "regrets deeply" certain "improper" activities in which she engaged with her old friend Barry, an apparent reference to drug use.
"Ms. Crenshaw believes," the statement said, "that some of us did not make the transition from the '60s we should have, as far as the casual use of drugs is concerned."
Yesterday's testimony began with Smith, who last week checked herself into a hospital for stress. One clue to her ailment was contained in a letter written to her attorney, Paul Friedman, by her psychiatrist, A. Lee Solomon. "She currently finds suicide to be more acceptable than testifying," the letter said. "Her mood is that her testimony will destroy her in the eyes of her parents."
The government has complained that she was balking at testifying. On Monday, her lawyers asked Jackson to grant more delays because they said her medical condition had deteriorated. But Jacksonordered her arrest.
Smith walked into court at 11:10 a.m., more than an hour late. One source said the delay stemmed from Smith's request, once she arrived at the courthouse, for food, and time to compose herself.
Smith walked into the courtroom haltingly, and sobbed when Jackson asked whether she understood she was being compelled to testify truthfully. She soon regained her composure, but at times appeared to forget testimony she had given a grand jury here in April.
Smith said her relationship with Barry was a "close, intimate friendship," but one without sex. It began, she said, shortly after she met the mayor in 1981.
During that time, she said, she lived alone in a Capitol Hill house, and Barry would often stop by. She said she did not recall how many times he visited, but did not dispute a transcript of her grand jury testimony that he visited "from once every two or three weeks to sometimes two or three times a week."
She first snorted cocaine with the mayor in her home in 1983, she said, and up to 1986 the two of them met there "five or six times a year" to use cocaine. After 1986, she said, she occasionally gave cocaine to the mayor, but he never used it in her presence.
"I would hand it to him, and he would go into the bathroom, but I don't know whether he used it or not," she said. Asked why Barry appeared to be using drugs but not in her presence, she said it may have been "because he didn't want me to do it. He was always concerned about my intake."
She described herself as a "social, recreational user" of cocaine who started using the drug "before social attitudes changed, which they have." But, she said, Barry "frequently reprimanded me that I should cut back . . . . He talked to me as a parent or an older brother."
At the midday recess, Barry and Farrakhan met with reporters at the courthouse entrance, where Farrakhan denounced the prosecution as racially motivated.
"No black person viewing this trial will say that the government of the United States is involved . . . in the pursuit of justice," said Farrakhan, who added that the government "wants to discredit" Barry.
Staff writer Elsa Walsh, staff researcher Matthew Lee and special correspondent Dick Kopper contributed to this report.