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‘Diff’rent Strokes’ Actor Smoked Coke Before Shooting, Witness Says

March 21, 1989

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Todd Bridges, once a star of the TV series ″Diff’rent Strokes,″ was ordered Monday to stand trial for attempted murder following testimony that he was high on cocaine every day for weeks before shooting a convicted drug dealer.

Municipal Judge David Horwitz, presiding at the preliminary hearing, determined there was enough evidence to try Bridges and set the 23-year-old former actor’s Superior Court arraignment for Friday.

The judge rejected a plea from Bridges’ attorney to reduce the charge on grounds that Bridges was too drugged to form the intent to shoot his alleged victim.

″The defendant is grossly overcharged,″ said attorney Johnnie Cochran, who noted that witnesses said Bridges ingested rock cocaine at least four times the day of the shooting at a house that was a cocaine hangout.

Kenneth Clay, the victim of the shooting, described the 23-year-old Bridges as ″based out″ from freebasing - smoking cocaine - when the shooting occurred Feb. 2.

″It was the worst I seen him,″ said Clay, 25. ″He looked like his eyes were about to jump out of his head. He’d lost a lot of weight, just wasn’t hisself.″

Clay described himself as a bodyguard at the house in south-central Los Angeles, where Bridges was living. He said he had seen Bridges have apparent epileptic seizures after consuming large amounts of cocaine, and once stuffed a towel in Bridges’ mouth to keep him from swallowing his tongue.

On Feb. 2, Clay said, Bridges came to the house and they argued. He said Bridges left and later returned with a gun and a friend, Harvey Duckett. When Bridges fired the gun, Clay said, Duckett urged him on, saying, ″Shoot him. Shoot him.″

Duckett, who has a long record of felony convictions, pleaded no contest to being an accessory in the case. However, he denied Clay’s account and said he didn’t arrive until the shooting was over.

Authorities allege that Bridges shot Clay eight times. The actor, who appeared in jail garb Monday, has been unable to post $2 million bail. Horwitz refused a request from Cochran to lower the bail.

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