Advertisement
Share

Today’s Headlines: Ed Buck convicted in meth overdose deaths

Ed Buck
Ed Buck, shown in state court in September 2019, was tried on federal charges that he supplied the methamphetamine that killed two men in overdoses at his West Hollywood apartment.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Ed Buck convicted in meth overdose deaths

Ed Buck, a longtime fixture of West Hollywood politics, was convicted Tuesday of charges that he supplied the methamphetamine that killed two men during “party and play” encounters at his apartment.

After about four hours of deliberations, the jury found Buck guilty of every charge in a nine-count indictment that also accused him of maintaining a drug den, distributing methamphetamine and enticement to cross state lines to engage in prostitution.

Advertisement

Buck, 66, could spend the rest of his life in prison. The convictions for supplying the meth that resulted in death each carry a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The verdict concluded a two-week trial that featured harrowing testimony by Black men hired by Buck, who is white, to show off their bodies in underwear and get high on crystal meth and the party drug GHB. Excerpts from Buck’s hundreds of graphic videos and photos of the drugs-and-sex sessions were played at the trial.

Buck’s obsessive pursuit of his dangerous fetish led to the overdose deaths of two Black men in his apartment: Gemmel Moore, 26, in July 2017, and Timothy Dean, 55, in January 2019.

Los Angeles County coroner’s officials at first ruled Moore’s death was accidental, and an initial review by sheriff’s deputies found nothing suspicious. Sheriff’s detectives did not launch a new investigation into Moore’s death for more than two weeks — after his mother, friends and activists questioned whether the drugs were self-administered. In July 2018, the L.A. County district attorney’s office declined to press charges, a decision that caused political trouble for D.A. Jackie Lacey in her unsuccessful campaign for reelection.

Eight months after Dean’s death, Buck was arrested on Sept. 17, 2019, on state drug and battery charges after a third man overdosed and nearly died. Two days later, federal authorities announced the charges that led to Buck’s conviction.

These Olympics are losing their appeal

These Olympic Games were always walking a tightrope, right from the beginning, teetering on the edge of disaster.

Advertisement

From the first positive coronavirus test, there were fears the COVID-19 pandemic might land scores of athletes in quarantine, maybe wipe out an entire event like the men’s 100-meter final.

From the first explosion of fireworks over an empty stadium during the opening ceremony, there were doubts that Tokyo could generate any real buzz without fans in the seats.

But it was neither of these things that pushed the Games a big step closer to catastrophe on Tuesday night. The uncertainty that drove Simone Biles to withdraw from the women’s gymnastics team competition abruptly continued a more alarming trend.

These Olympics are losing their star power.

Advertisement

Biles was merely the latest marquee name to suffer misfortune in the first few days of the Games. American swimmer Katie Ledecky — another ostensible “Greatest of All Time” — finished second in her initial race. Later Tuesday, Ledecky finished fifth in the 200-meter freestyle final. And Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, whose face adorns countless billboards and television commercials in Tokyo, was bounced from the women’s draw in the third round.

On Tuesday, the city of Tokyo reported a record three-day average of 2,848 new coronavirus infections, with health experts warning the numbers might continue to grow.

Even more, athletes could be pulled from the competition by positive COVID-19 tests. Some of them could be big names. For these Games, things could get even worse with 13 days to go.

CDC recommends masks indoors

Advertisement

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new recommendations that vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging. Scientists cited new information about the ability of the Delta variant to spread among vaccinated people.

The CDC also recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.

The new guidance follows recent decisions in Los Angeles County and St. Louis to revert to indoor mask mandates amid a spike in coronavirus cases and COVID-19 hospitalizations, which are incredibly high in the South.

The country is averaging more than 57,000 cases a day and 24,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations. Most new infections and hospitalizations in the U.S. are among unvaccinated people.

Advertisement

But “breakthrough” infections, which generally cause milder illness, can occur in vaccinated people.

When earlier strains of the coronavirus predominated, infected vaccinated people were found to have low levels of the virus and were deemed unlikely to spread the virus much, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.

But with the more transmissible Delta variant, “it is concerning enough that we feel like we have to act,” Walensky said regarding a return to wearing masks.

More top coronavirus headlines

Advertisement

— California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office says he’s pulled two of his children out of a summer day camp that did not require kids to wear masks.

California State University — the nation’s largest four-year public university system — will require COVID-19 vaccinations for students, faculty and staff.

— A growing number of Los Angeles politicians want to require city workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as infection numbers have resurged, a step already announced in New York, San Francisco and Pasadena.

For more, sign up for Coronavirus Today, a special edition of The Times’ Health and Science newsletter.

Advertisement

'The Times' podcast

Our new weekday podcast, hosted by columnist Gustavo Arellano, takes listeners beyond the headlines. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts and follow on Spotify.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

In 1948, Doris Mae Normandine was a witness in court during divorce proceedings between Dr. J. Salem Rubin and Lorraine Rubin. Normandine babysat for the Rubins. Los Angeles Times photographer Bruce Cox reported he was trying to get a picture of Normandine when a Los Angeles Examiner photographer’s flashbulb exploded.

This photo appeared in the July 30, 1948, Los Angeles Times. In 1952, it appeared in Among Ourselves, a Times-Mirror employee newsletter.

The Examiner photographer remained unidentified. Both times this image was published with the photographer’s face cropped out. What’s unknown is if this was a deliberate crop or just the edge of the negative. The original print for this scan does not have the face.

Advertisement

Doris Mae Normandine and attorney Werner O. Graf cringe as a Los Angeles Examiner photographer’s flashbulb explodes.
July 29, 1948: Doris Mae Normandine and attorney Werner O. Graf cringe as a Los Angeles Examiner photographer’s flashbulb explodes.
(Bruce Cox / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

— Two separate Los Angeles police shootings of men who officers alleged were armed with knives pushed the total number of LAPD shootings this year to 23, according to LAPD data.

— An 18-year-old woman was killed, and a 19-year-old man was injured in a double shooting at a movie theater in Corona late Monday night, according to the Corona Police Department. The shooting occurred in a theater showing the film “The Forever Purge,” which features a night of lawlessness and killing, police confirmed.

— Low-income Californians 50 and older will be eligible for healthcare regardless of immigration status under a law extending benefits to 235,000 residents in the country illegally.

Advertisement

— After evacuating from the growing Tamarack fire over the weekend, homeowners were relieved to find their house still standing, but they found a surprise in their backyard: a bear cub that had been injured in the blaze.

Support our journalism

Subscribe to the Los Angeles Times.

NATION-WORLD

— The Georgia man accused of killing eight people at three metro Atlanta spas — including six women of Asian descent — pleaded guilty Tuesday to four counts of murder and was sentenced to life in prison, even as he faces the death penalty on the other murder charges.

— Four Capitol and Metropolitan Police Department officers on Tuesday recounted their experience fighting off the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol during the first hearing of a new House committee investigating the attack.

Advertisement

— The U.S. and NATO have promised to pay $4 billion a year until 2024 to finance Afghanistan’s military and security forces, which are struggling to contain an advancing Taliban. Already, the U.S. has spent nearly $89 billion over the last 20 years to build, equip and train Afghan forces.

Moroccan authorities have arrested an Uyghur activist in exile based on a Chinese terrorism warrant distributed by Interpol, according to information from Moroccan police and a rights group that tracks people detained by China.

— The U.S. government has suspended cooperation with Guatemala’s attorney general’s office in response to the firing of its top anti-corruption prosecutor, saying Tuesday that it has “lost confidence” in the Central American country’s willingness to fight corruption.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— “I don’t even want to catch feelings ... You think I’m trying to catch COVID?” said Lizzo, requesting that fans keep a six-foot distance at all times.

Advertisement

— You can’t see the jungle for the CGI in this action-adventure inspired by the long-running Disney theme-park attraction. Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt are fun, but not enough to make “Jungle Cruise” worth seeing.

— Growing up in Queens, N.Y., Lucy Liu felt like she was from another planet — until she found the arts. The actor gets personal on fame, art and standing up for herself on the “Charlie’s Angels” set on the L.A. Times’ “Asian Enough” podcast.

Uzo Aduba, Andy Cohen and Rosanna Arquette are among the celebs rallying behind gymnast Simone Biles after her decision to withdraw from a competition at the Tokyo Olympics to care for her mental health.

BUSINESS

— In Irvine, the house that SeneGence built just hit the market for $49.95 million. If it sells for anywhere close, it’ll be the priciest real estate deal in the city’s history and rank as one of the most expensive transactions ever in Orange County.

Advertisement

— The Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 0.5%, snapping a five-day winning streak. The selling was most pronounced in technology and communication stocks, and in companies that rely on consumer spending.

SPORTS

Trevor Bauer’s leave from the Dodgers has been extended through Aug. 6 under an agreement between Major League Baseball and the players union. It is the third time the pitcher’s original paid administrative leave from July 2 has been extended, according to a person familiar with the situation who is not authorized to speak publicly.

— Unvaccinated NFL players will be revealed quickly as training camps open. Whoever is not vaccinated will have to wear a mask at practice and keep their distance from others.

Get the latest news from Tokyo with our Olympics live blog and the Sports Report newsletter.

Advertisement

Free online games

Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at latimes.com/games.

OPINION

— The Olympics are in danger of becoming the stegosauruses of the sports world with their antiquated and biased rules. For their own good, as well as that of athletes and spectators, they need to hoist themselves into the 2020s, writes The Times’ editorial board.

— The star U.S. gymnast, Simone Biles, says her belief you must “put mental health first before your sport” prompted her to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics team competition. The real victory will be if Biles’ decision leads someone else to seek help for their own fears, columnist Helene Elliott writes.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Despite being a Parkland shooting survivor, QAnon convinced their dad it was all a hoax. “I don’t know how to help someone that far gone.” (Vice)

Advertisement

— A confidential FBI informant infiltrated a KKK murder plot to kill a Black man in Florida. And that investigation unearthed a secret: An unknown number of klansmen were working inside the FL Department of Corrections. (Associated Press)

— A one-of-a-kind album by the Wu-Tang Clan, which Martin Shkreli paid $2 million for at auction, has been sold by the U.S. to cover the debt that the disgraced pharmaceutical executive owed the government. (The New York Times)

ONLY IN L.A.

A reader asked about church architecture in Los Angeles — a good question, because the turn-of-the-century Chamber of Commerce fantasies created around the “mission culture,” along with the blazing-bold architecture of private houses and secular public buildings, have somewhat eclipsed the far-flung architecture of neighborhood houses of worship, which could be almost as blazing and daring. If L.A.’s architecture is a hodgepodge of styles, its churches are great examples: A-frame, Mission, modern — it’s all here.

Today’s newsletter was curated by Daric L. Cottingham. Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


Advertisement