Witness testifies in trial of date rape drug death

The Associated Press
Saturday November 11, 2000

JOSHUA TREE — A witness testified that the night her friend died from taking the rave party drug GHB, they were warned by the defendant not to drink too much of a mystery liquid. 

Crystal Claire testified Wednesday about the night her 15-year-old friend, Lucas Bielat, died. Claire said that murder defendant Lindley Troy Geborde had taken her, Bielat and two other people to a party and given them a jug of liquid and then warned them not to drink too much of it.  

Claire, who believed the liquid was water, said Bielat started chugging the liquid, but she didn’t know whether he heard Geborde’s warning. 

Claire testified that after she drank the liquid, she fainted. When she awoke she learned of Bielat’s fate. 

“People were telling me Lucas was dying,” she told jurors. “People were saying we need to get him to the hospital.” 

San Bernardino County Superior Court jurors are set to make a decision in a case that could set a precedent. Geborde, 30, is charged with second-degree murder in the January 1996 death of Bielat, whose body was found beside a campfire at Giant Rock, a partying spot near Landers. 

Once sold as a food supplement, gamma hydroxybutyrate, became illegal this year after health and law enforcement officials linked it to a series of deaths and medical emergencies. GHB also is known as a date rape drug because of its ability to incapacitate people, leaving them vulnerable to sexual assault. 

In his opening statement Wednesday, Deputy District Attorney David Simon told jurors the evidence will show Geborde, who made and distributed GHB, gave it to Bielat without warning him about the danger of consuming too much. 

Defense attorney Frank Peasley said Geborde, an aspiring musician, made GHB and provided it for the partying lifestyle of his high desert friends. Geborde and other people used GHB routinely because it was cheap and legal and they suffered no ill-effects. Peasley maintains Bielat died not from GHB, but from hypothermia because it was cold the night Bielat fell unconscious. 

Peasley contends that because GHB forms naturally in the blood after death, the high level found in a sample of Bielat’s blood in October 1997 may not correlate to how much he consumed.  

Bielat’s blood was tested nearly two years after his death because no GHB-testing facilities were available in the area until the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office developed them in 1997. 

Dan Anderson, a Los Angeles County toxicologist who developed the procedure, testified the GHB level in Bielat’s blood was toxic and due to consumption, not natural formation in the blood.