Defense lawyers for D.C. Mayor Marion Barry called three witnesses yesterday, including Fire Chief Ray Alfred, to counter testimony that the mayor bought crack and accepted the crack dealer's job application on Sept. 7, 1988.
Barry's lawyers are trying to discredit the story of acknowledged crack dealer Lydia Reid Pearson, who testified earlier this month that she sold crack to Barry on about two dozen occasions in 1988, including Sept. 7, when she said she visited Barry at the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center at 14th and U streets NW.
Also yesterday, defense lawyer R. Kenneth Mundy told U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson that if Barry does not testify, the defense could finish its case by tomorrow afternoon. Depending on the length of the government's rebuttal, Mundy said, the case could go to the jury by early next week.
Mundy called Alfred, former D.C. emergency preparedness director Joseph P. Yeldell and Barry staff member Clifton L. Roberson to show that Barry was not at the Reeves Center when Pearson said she sold him crack there. Mundy called Alfred and Yeldell to say Barry was at a meeting of fire department officials that Sept. 7 morning.
Jackson prevented Mundy from calling two witnesses, including Pearson, to try to show that Pearson lied in testifying she had not used drugs since early June.
Jackson yesterday ruled inadmissible the testimony of D.C. police Officer Otha R. Batts after Batts said at a hearing, with the jury out of the courtroom, that he had followed Pearson from her house in the 1300 block of Taylor Street NW to what he called "a crack and heroin haven" in the 600 block of Park Road NW. Batts testified he saw Pearson enter the Park Road apartment building on the weekend of July 7. Pearson testified in Barry's cocaine conspiracy and perjury trial on July 6 and returned to the witness stand on July 9.
After Batts's testimony, Mundy told Jackson he wanted prosecutors to make Pearson available as a defense witness. Within 15 minutes, Assistant U.S. Attorney Judith E. Retchin produced Pearson, and Jackson held another hearing without the jury. There, Pearson testified she had friends who lived at 620 Park Rd. NW, and she said the residence was used to sell crack and heroin. But Pearson testified that she did not know whether her friends still lived there and that she did not go there the weekend of July 7.
Of the 10 cocaine possession charges against Barry, the count based on Pearson's testimony is the most specific in time. Pearson testified she delivered the crack to Barry shortly after 10 a.m. on Sept. 7. She also identified a D.C. government job application she said she gave Barry and his assistant, Anita Bonds, on that visit to the city building. The application, admitted as a prosecution exhibit, is dated Sept. 7.
Roberson, who was an aide to Bonds, testified yesterday that Pearson gave him, not Barry or Bonds, the application. Roberson testified that he remembered meeting Pearson because he made her wait in a reception area while he completed a telephone call.
"When I came out to meet Ms. Pearson, she was annoyed by the wait," Roberson testified. "She indicated to me she had an application form for the mayor . . . . I told her the mayor is not here, and Ms. Bonds is not available."
Under lengthy cross-examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard W. Roberts, Roberson said he recalled meeting Pearson on Sept. 7 only because of the date on her application and because she told him the form "had just been typed."
Pearson testified that she had the application typed for her the day she sold the crack to Barry.
Yeldell testified that although the fire department meeting was scheduled to start at 10 a.m., it was delayed because Barry arrived late. Alfred testified that he could not remember when the meeting began.
Under cross-examination, both said that they viewed a videotape of the meeting on Friday, and that on it they saw a clock as Barry left the meeting. Both said the clock read 11:52.
Because the videotape shows Barry talking for just more than an hour, prosecutors maintain the mayor did not arrive at the meeting until after 10:40 a.m.
Retchin urged Jackson yesterday to allow prosecutors to play the tape without sound during the government's rebuttal portion of the case because, she said, the tape includes "rank hearsay" from Barry. An example, she said, was a Barry remark that he was late to the meeting because he had attended a ribbon-cutting to open a Safeway store.
Safeway opened a store in the Marshall Heights area of Northeast on Sept. 7, 1988.
Lloyd D. Smith, executive director of the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization, said yesterday that Barry attended the ribbon-cutting.
Smith, a Barry appointee to the D.C. Zoning Commission, said that the ceremony was scheduled for 9 or 9:30 a.m. and that Barry arrived late, but that he did not know the exact time of the mayor's arrival. The defense subpoenaed Smith to testify today, a source said.
Defense lawyers yesterday also called Charles Mason, an employee of the D.C. Department of Public Works, who testified he did not see illegal drugs at the Georgetown apartment of restaurateur Hassan H. Mohammadi on the night Mohammadi testified he used cocaine with Barry.
Under cross-examination by Roberts, Mason said he did not go to the bathroom with either Mohammadi or Barry and thus could not testify whether the men used cocaine there. Mohammadi testified that he accompanied Barry to a downstairs bathroom where they used the drug.
Mason also said under cross-examination that he had obtained money from Mohammadi to go to a racetrack and to Atlantic City, and had not fully repaid the debt. Roberts also questioned Mason about his role in Mohammadi's obtaining a payment schedule for his water bill. Mason said he did not help negotiate the payment plan but he did go with Mohammadi to the water billing office.
The Legal Times disclosed yesterday, meanwhile, that one of Barry's sequestered jurors traveled to Kentucky on July 1 under extraordinary conditions of security so she could keep her promise to be maid of honor at a wedding.
The report, attributed to federal officials, said Jackson ordered U.S. marshals to escort the woman, at the woman's own expense of about $2,000, and keep her from participating in discussion about the case.
Deputy U.S. marshals, dressed in formal wear to blend in at the wedding, continuously stayed near her, the weekly paper reported, and one marshal danced with wedding guests. The paper did not identify the juror, but said she "was once employed at this newspaper." Juror Anne D. Freeman, 28, worked there.
Staff writers Barton Gellman, Tracy Thompson and Elsa Walsh and staff researcher Ben Iannotta contributed to this report.