D.C. Mayor Marion Barry's lawyer said in court yesterday that he could discredit the mayor's key accuser, Charles Lewis, by linking him to convicted cocaine dealer Rayful Edmond III, but a federal judge temporarily kept out the evidence, saying Lewis would have to be recalled to the witness stand.
The lawyer, R. Kenneth Mundy, promptly vowed to do just that, telling prosecutors in the mayor's drug conspiracy and perjury case that they should make Lewis available next week to testify again.
Mundy asserted a connection between Edmond and Lewis by citing a D.C. police sergeant's notes of an interview with Lewis last year. But it is unclear whether the notes say Lewis knew convicted dealer Rayful Edmond III or his father, Rayful Edmond Jr.
Rayful Edmond III's lawyer, James Robertson, said last night that he had talked with Edmond, who said he does not know Lewis.
Mundy also suggested to an FBI agent, on the stand as a defense witness, that the agent's notes of the same August 1989 interview with Lewis showed that Lewis had demanded cash for testimony. The agent denied it.
Lewis, who was the government's first major witness against Barry, is the key to three counts of perjury, the only felonies charged against the mayor and the only counts that bring a near-certain prison term upon conviction.
Mundy described the alleged connection between Edmond, who is serving a life sentence for directing a continuing criminal enterprise, and Lewis during questioning of FBI agent Michael Mason, who interviewed Lewis last August. U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ruled that Mundy could not ask Mason about notes taken by another investigator, police Sgt. Al Arrington. Those notes described Lewis's attendance at a 1982 party and an introduction to Edmond.
Disclosure of the possible connection between Lewis and Edmond came with the jury outside the courtroom, when Mundy read from notes of the meeting taken by Arrington. The notes indicated Lewis told investigators that he had introduced a fellow drug user, Sonny Watley, to Edmond in 1982 with the intention of setting up a drug distribution arrangement.
Although Arrington's notes say "Edmond Jr.," Mundy said that an "Edmond Sr." also is mentioned. A law enforcement source said yesterday that Arrington's notes refer to Rayful Edmond Jr., the father of Rayful Edmond III.
Rayful Edmond Jr. helped his son get into the drug business, investigators said.
Rayful Edmond III would have been 16 or 17 years old in 1982. His drug dealing attracted the attention of investigators about 1985. Robertson said he would recommend that Edmond not cooperate with the prosecutors or defense lawyers.
"This is the craziest trial I've ever seen," Robertson said.
Mundy had called Mason to testify about Mason's own notes of the Aug. 11 interview, the first interview of Lewis after he decided to cooperate with the government. Mundy asked Mason about a passage in his notes that mentioned "the reward range" that Lewis could receive in return for his cooperation.
Mason testified that by using the word "reward," he meant a possible reduction in the sentences Lewis was facing from drug convictions in the Virgin Islands and his then-pending drug case here. Though he acknowledged the word "reward" is normally used to describe money in FBI parlance, Mason said that he was not referring to money in this case. He testified that Lewis did not ask for money and that no one else mentioned the subject.
At the end of the day, Barry met with reporters outside the courthouse and said he did not know of any connection between Lewis and Edmond. Barry also dismissed reports that his lawyers are focusing the mayor's defense on the three felony perjury counts and the cocaine possession charge related to Barry's Jan. 18 arrest at the Vista Hotel.
"Let me set the record straight," Barry said. "Ken Mundy and I are seeking acquittal on all 14 counts . . . . Our strategy is to try to convince the jury of 12 people that the government has not proven me guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."
The mayor again declined to say whether he plans to testify, but he teased reporters by saying, "I was at lawyers' office last night going through possible testimony."
The mayor also responded further to a prosecutor's assertion on Thursday that a senior member of Barry's security detail, Detective James L. Stays, had himself used cocaine at a Maryland cookout.
"That's a lie. They know he didn't use cocaine," Barry said. He also said a D.C. police detective and FBI agent who questioned Stays at one point "even searched him for a hidden listening device."
Barry, who appeared to be in exuberant spirits, hammed for tourists' cameras and hugged supporters. When he spotted a woman in dance tights who has become a courthouse regular -- often dancing on Constitution Avenue NW with a bottle of RC Cola balanced on her head -- he grinned broadly and called out, "Hey, RC!" R.C. was Barry's nickname for former girlfriend Hazel Diane "Rasheeda" Moore, who lured him to the Vista.
Less than 90 minutes of yesterday's proceedings were heard in front of the jury, with much of the day spent untangling a series of knots in the scheduling of witnesses and admissibility of evidence.
Although Mundy put his emphasis on Lewis, he previewed two other lines of attack on the government's 14-count indictment.
Outside the hearing of the jurors, Mundy told Jackson that he plans to mount an alibi defense against Count 3, charging Barry with cocaine possession on Sept. 7, 1988. Drug dealer Lydia Reid Pearson testified she sold three $30 bags of crack to the mayor shortly after 10 a.m. that day at the city's Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center.
Mundy said he planned to show that Barry at that time was meeting with fire officials about the city's troubled ambulance service. Mundy said he plans to call D.C. Fire Chief Ray Alfred and former director of emergency preparedness Joseph P. Yeldell to testify that Barry arrived near the start of a two-hour meeting that commenced at 10 a.m.
Alfred, wearing his uniform, and Yeldell were in the courthouse yesterday, but neither was called to testify.
Jurors did not see a videotape that Mundy said would show the mayor in the meeting on that day. Assistant U.S. Attorney Judith E. Retchin told the judge that the tape would be no help to the defense because it is 71 minutes long and shows a wall clock reading about 11:50 a.m. at its close. Retchin said the evidence will show that Barry made a call from his car phone at 10:42 a.m. that day and entered the meeting at 10:43 -- late enough to be consistent with Pearson's testimony.
Mundy reviewed the tape during the lunch break and decided not to show it for the defense.
Waiting in a cellblock next to the courtroom was another defense witness who did not make it to the witness stand. Roscoe Jackson, the husband of government witness Carole Bland Jackson, was described by Mundy in a bench conference as a convicted armed robber subpoenaed to testify.
Mundy said he plans to use the man to resume his attack on Moore's credibility and motives. Roscoe Jackson, he said, would testify that he heard Moore offer to pay Carole Jackson to corroborate Moore's allegation that Barry snorted cocaine in June 1986 at an apartment in Southwest Washington. Carole Jackson did corroborate the allegation in testimony for the government on July 5.
Prosecutors, who did not learn until yesterday that Mundy planned to call Roscoe Jackson as a witness, asked the judge to delay his testimony. "I understand that this witness may have a very extensive criminal record," Retchin said, "and before cross-examining the witness I would like an opportunity to verify that."
Mundy also called D.C. police Detective Ulysses Walltower, another member of Barry's security detail, to testify that he accompanied the mayor to the Virgin Islands in March 1988 but did not see Barry or Lewis use drugs.
Walltower testified that often on the trip, Barry was with security officers, and with Barry's son, Christopher, and Christopher's friend. Under cross-examination, Walltower said there were several times when he was not with Barry.
Staff writer Elsa Walsh and staff researchers Matthew Lee and Ben Iannotta contributed to this report.