Jurors in Marion Barry's drug and perjury trial began deliberations late Thursday after six weeks of testimony highlighted by a videotape of the mayor of the nation's capital smoking from a crack cocaine pipe.
Prosecutors said Barry "lived above the law" and deserved conviction, while the mayor's lawyer urged the jury to acquit him, rejecting testimony from "facile liars" and "little Lucifers."
The jurors retired to consider Barry's fate after U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson read them instructions on the law covering the evidence they had heard. They include nine women and three men, 10 blacks and two whites.
Scoffing at suggestions by Barry attorney R. Kenneth Mundy that the mayor was the victim of a political or racial vendetta, Assistant U.S. Atty. Richard Roberts, who like Barry is black, said the government had merely exposed the mayor's fondness for illegal drugs.
"Marion Barry lived above the law, he lived one step ahead of anyone who was looking at him," Roberts said. "He lied to the public. . . . The sad fact is, Marion Barry was out to get himself."
Roberts urged the jurors to remember the 10 government witnesses who testified about Barry's drug use and not join his "conspiracy of silence and deceit."
"Mr. Barry is asking you to shut your eyes, cover your ears, to close your mind," Roberts said. "Really, he's asking you to insult your intelligence by forgetting the facts."
Roberts spoke to the jury for about 30 minutes after Mundy completed an emotional attack on the government and its witnesses.
The mayor has indeed used cocaine, Mundy acknowledged during closing arguments in which he urged the jury to acquit Barry of the 14 charges he faces. But Mundy said a federal investigation of Barry's drug use amounted to "using a sledgehammer to kill a fly."
And he said jurors should refuse to convict Barry because the government's case against him "simply doesn't have the flavor of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt."
If government witnesses such as former model Rasheeda Moore and admitted cocaine dealer Charles Lewis weren't "devils, they were at least little Lucifers or small Satans," Mundy said. He said they were "facile liars right here in your very presence."
Prosecutors relied on Lewis' testimony in part to back up the three felony perjury charges, a misdemeanor conspiracy charge, and four of the 10 misdemeanor cocaine possession charges Barry faces.