A former “Saturday Night Live” writer testified that he saw Cathy Evelyn Smith inject John Belushi with drugs several times in the hours leading up to the comedian’s drug overdose death in 1982, grand jury transcripts revealed Friday.
Nelson Lyon, who wrote for the NBC television comedy series that made Belushi a star, in testimony before the Los Angeles County Grand Jury under a grant of immunity from prosecutors, graphically outlined portions of the last days and hours of the comedian’s life.
Transcripts of the grand jury proceedings that led to Smith’s murder indictment in 1983 were sealed by court order. They were opened to the public for a few hours Friday through a mistake by a court clerk and were resealed later in the day.
Smith returned to Los Angeles from Toronto on Tuesday in a deal with prosecutors, who said she has agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges of involuntary manslaughter and three drug counts. She may enter those pleas in an arraignment Monday.
Lyon’s January, 1983, account to the grand jury is similar to the story told in Bob Woodward’s book, “Wired--the Short Life & Fast Times of John Belushi.” Lyon is prominently mentioned in the book.
The writer testified that he met Smith through Belushi when the two came to his house on March 2, 1982, and the comedian said: “I have a big surprise for you. Roll up your sleeves.”
At that point, Lyon told the panel, Smith injected him and Belushi with what apparently was cocaine. Smith injected both men with the drug four more times later in the day, he testified.
On March 4, a day before Belushi’s body was found in his $200-a-day bungalow at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in West Hollywood, Belushi and Smith again came to Lyon’s house and Smith injected the comedian three or four times, Lyon testified.
Lyon said he went with Belushi and Smith that night to a private nightclub on the Sunset Strip, where they met actors Robert DeNiro and Harry Dean Stanton. He said the two actors did not take any drugs. But, Lyon testified, he went with Smith and Belushi into an office at the club, where the woman gave Belushi and Lyon a mixture that produced an “aggravated and extreme . . . sensation. . . . I said, ‘Jesus, this must be--this must be heroin--heroin and, you know, cocaine--a speed ball. . . .’
"(It) rendered me a walking zombie and made him vomit,” Lyon said.
Belushi became ill as Smith was driving the two men back to the bungalow early on the morning of March 5, he said.
“John asked Cathy Smith to pull into an abandoned garage because he was feeling sick,” Lyon testified, and when she stopped the car, Belushi vomited.
Back at the bungalow, Lyon said, DeNiro and comedian Robin Williams dropped by briefly, then everyone except Belushi and Smith left.
Later that morning, apparently after Belushi’s body had been discovered, Lyon said, he received a phone call from Smith who, he said, sounded intoxicated and very upset.
“And I said, ‘What the hell happened?’ ” Lyon testified.
Smith replied, “I put him to bed . . . went in the living room to write a letter. . . . He was breathing funny and I heard these noises. . . .
“I walked into the bedroom (and said) ‘John, what’s wrong? What’s the matter?’ and he said, ‘Uh, nothing, nothing, nothing. I need some water.’
“So I got him some water and then he just, you know, said he felt better.
“I didn’t think anything was wrong. . . . If he was in trouble I would have known what to do. But I didn’t think he was in any trouble. (So) I got in the car and I did some business and I came back and it was, you know, the place was--it was ‘Dragnet.’ ”
By that time, Belushi’s body had been discovered and police were at the scene.
Smith insisted in the phone conservation that she did not inject Belushi after Lyon had left the bungalow, the writer told the grand jury.
Lyon said Smith told him that, if he were questioned by police, “All you have to do is like--you say there were a bunch of people all around, there was a party going on. . . . It’s what I told them.”
Robert R. Devich, supervising judge of the criminal division of Los Angeles Superior Court, said Friday that he will ask lawyers for both sides on Monday if they object to the transcript being made available for public inspection.
By law, grand jury transcripts are sealed for 10 days after they are made available to the defense. The primary purpose of the 10-day rule is to give the defense time to read the transcript and decide whether to ask the court to seal grand jury testimony until after a trial, on the ground that premature disclosure could prejudice potential jurors.
Smith’s attorney, Howard L. Weitzman, said Friday that he had planned to ask that the transcripts be sealed at the end of the 10-day period.