Inside LADA

October 9, 2019: District Attorney Jackie Lacey Discusses the Criminal Prosecution of Edward Buck

Dear Friends:

My deputy district attorneys have worked with sheriff’s detectives and federal prosecutors for the past several months to build criminal cases that would hold suspected predator Edward Buck accountable for the deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean.

While community members demanded immediate action following Mr. Moore’s death, this case was especially challenging. We could not file a state murder charge because we lacked the admissible evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant Buck intended to kill Mr. Moore or Mr. Dean.

We received the break we needed on Sept. 11 when a new witness emerged who could testify that defendant Buck injected him with methamphetamine.

We filed the case we could at the time – felony counts of battery causing serious injury, administering methamphetamine and maintaining a drug house – with a maximum sentence of five years and eight months in prison.

Federal prosecutors, however, were able to charge defendant Buck with furnishing drugs causing the deaths of Mr. Moore and Mr. Dean. That federal charge allows prosecutors to seek a significantly longer sentence. It also does not require prosecutors prove an intent to kill.

There is no comparable statute in California criminal law that my office could have used to charge defendant Buck in either of the deaths.

Instead, my deputy district attorneys opted to work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to ensure defendant Buck would face the harshest possible sentence.

I empathize with the families and friends of Mr. Moore and Mr. Dean. The loss of someone’s child, no matter his or her age or the circumstance, is tragic.

But, as your District Attorney, I have a legal and ethical duty to follow the law. I cannot and will not allow the loudest voices to influence how my office charges any person in our community.

Jackie Lacey
Los Angeles County District Attorney