Cathy Smith to Plead Guilty to Manslaughter Charge
Former backup singer and rock groupie Cathy Evelyn Smith will plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the 1982 drug overdose death of comedian John Belushi, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office said today.
In exchange for a guilty plea, which will be entered Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, prosecutors will drop second-degree murder charges and 10 of the 13 counts against her of furnishing or administering heroin and cocaine to Belushi, Deputy Dist. Atty. Elden S. Fox said.
Although no deal was struck concerning Smith’s sentence, Fox said he would recommend that Judge David A. Horowitz impose a prison term of three years. The maximum term Smith, 39, could receive is eight years and eight months.
Had she been convicted of second-degree murder following a trial, she could have been sentenced to as long as 25 years to life in state prison.
Fox noted that Smith, a Canadian citizen, rejected an identical deal last Feb. 11, 1985, that had been worked out by her Toronto attorney. At that time, her Los Angeles lawyer, Howard L. Weitzman, said he could not in “good conscience” allow her to plead guilty to a homicide.
Weitzman’s office said he would not be available today for comment.
Although Fox declined to speculate on why Smith had reversed herself on the plea, the prosecutor noted that, “We’re ready for trial. Back then, we hadn’t even had a preliminary hearing.”
Fox cited a key piece of evidence introduced during that hearing--a tape of an interview with a free-lance writer in which Smith admitted giving Belushi more than 20 injections of “speedball,” a mixture of heroin and cocaine, during the last 24 hours of his life.
The comedian was found dead of acute heroin and cocaine intoxication in a West Hollywood hotel on March 5, 1982.
Describing the negotiations between himself and Weitzman, Fox said, “Howard does not feel that (Smith) should go to jail, but there are certain realities that come to pass.”
Smith is free on $50,000 bail.