Cocaine Trial Opens For Reputed Girlfriend Of Julian Bond
DECATUR, Ga. (AP) _ Authorities who raided the home of the reputed girlfriend of civil rights veteran Julian Bond netted 282 grams of cocaine and a .38-caliber pistol, the prosecutor said Tuesday in the woman’s trial.
As the trial got under way with opening statements, defense attorneys countered that Carmen Lopez Butler, charged with drug trafficking, did not know the drugs were there, and scolded the prosecution for making the amount of cocaine sound bigger than it was.
It equals about 9.87 ounces, and defense attorney Darel Mitchell said, ″A gentleman could get it in his coat pocket and you’d never know he had it.″
Ms. Butler was linked to Bond after the former state senator’s estranged wife, Alice, told police the woman was supplying her husband with cocaine. Bond has denied drug abuse, and has not been harged with any crime.
Mitchell said he hoped in the trial to separate Ms. Butler from what he called the ″hoopla″ over Mrs. Bond’s allegations that her husband and other prominent Atlantans used cocaine. Investigations are pending.
The attorney said he has not decided whether to call Bond as a witness in the case. ″He’s not under subpoena, but he is available,″ Mitchell said.
Earlier Tuesday, Mitchell protested that prosecutors excluded ″routinely and systematically every educated professional of the black race″ from the jury.
Mitchell also protested the exclusion of a woman with a Hispanic-sounding name.
The panel included two blacks and one Hispanic, but after Mitchell’s protest, Superior Court Judge Hinton Fuller allowed one white man to be removed, a white woman alternate moved to the panel and a black woman alternate to be added.
Ms. Butler was arrested Nov. 21 and jailed pending the outcome of her trial.
She was indicted on charges of cocaine trafficking, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. She faces a maximum prison sentence of 31 years on the cocaine charges.
During a Nov. 17 surveillance of Ms. Butler’s home, officers examining bagged garbage outside the house found letterhead stationery from Bond, personal notes signed ″J.B.,″ plastic bags similar to the ones used to package cocaine and a homemade pipe with burn residue that turned out to be marijuana, according to police.
Two days later, after a search warrant was obtained, police found bags containing cocaine, officials said.
Assistant District Attorney Steve Roberts said in his opening statement said officers found the drugs and the pistol in Ms. Butler’s bedroom. A rifle, a shotgun and $544 in cash were found elsewhere in the house, he said.