Tribble Innocent of Supplying Drugs to Len Bias
Jun. 04, 1987
UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (AP) _ A jury Wednesday found Brian Lee Tribble innocent of charges that he supplied the cocaine that killed University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias.
''The system did not fail me,'' Tribble said after the verdict, returned about six hours after the Prince Georges County Circuit Court jury began deliberations.
Tribble, 24, had been accused of giving cocaine to Bias, who died June 19, a day after being selected the Boston Celtics' No. 1 draft pick.
Tribble was found innocent of distribution and possession of the drug in connection with Bias' death, and conspiracy to distribute cocaine in the months leading up to the party Bias attended.
If convicted of all charges, Tribble could have been sentenced to 20 years and fined $25,000.
There are still two counts of obstruction of justice pending against Tribble in connection with destruction of evidence in the dorm room where Bias collapsed.
''I would think this (verdict) would be an indication of what they should do with the other charges,'' said defense lawyer Thomas Morrow.
Prosecutor Robert Bonsib, saying he was surprised at the verdict, said a decision had not been made on whether to pursue the obstruction charges.
''It's been a year of hell,'' Loretta Tribble, the defendant's mother, said after the verdict. ''Lenny couldn't talk. He was dead. All we had Mr. Morrow and God.''
Former Maryland basketball Coach Lefty Driesell, who was relieved of his coaching duties in the controversy after Bias' death, said he wanted to talk to his lawyers before commenting on the case.
''I've got a lot of reaction, I just can't say it,'' Driesell said in a telephone interview from his home in suburban Washington, D.C. ''You figure out your own reaction.''
Driesell testified as a witness for the prosecution in the case.
Bonsib had called Tribble as ''dope dealer,'' but Morrow said his client was a ''whipping boy'' for the state.
''This whole trial is a whitewash, an attempt to divert attention from the University of Maryland to somebody whom the state thinks is nobody,'' Morrow said in his closing argument.
In his 65-minute closing statement Wednesday, prosecutor Bonsib called the defendant ''an ordinary, everyday drug dealer.''
He said Tribble was involved in a ''classic drug conspiracy'' and that Terrence Moore, a witness for the prosecution, ''distributed cocaine for (Tribble) day in, day out.''
Bonsib called Bias ''a technical distributor of drugs'' for Tribble, saying he occasionally gave small amounts of cocaine to his friends. The prosecutor said Tribble's motive for giving Bias the drug was to ''attach himself to this rising star.''
Bonsib's key witnesses were Moore and two former Maryland basketball players who were in the room with Tribble when Bias collapsed.
David Gregg and Terry Long, who received immunity from prosecution in exchange for their testimony, said a large pile of cocaine was laid out on a mirror when they entered the room early June 19.
Gregg said that when he asked where it came from, he was told by Tribble that ''it came from the bottom of the stash.
''He said another kilo's coming tomorrow,'' Gregg said.
In his closing statement, Morrow questioned the credibility of Moore, a 17- year-old who said he sold drugs for Tribble, and said naming Bias as a co- conspirator was ''the lowest allegation of all.''
Bonsib followed with an emotional speech in which he pointed a finger at Tribble and yelled: ''This man is a dope dealer. If you think he didn't do it, then let him free with Mr. Morrow and let him parade in front of the cameras.''