JOSHUA TREE, Calif. - Jury selection began Monday in a landmark murder trial involving a man accused of supplying the popular designer drug GHB to a teen-ager who died of an overdose.
Lindley Troy Geborde, 30, of Los Angeles, has been charged with second-degree murder for allegedly giving the drug to 15-year-old Lucas Bielat at a desert rave party and failing to warn him of the dangers.
Bielat died Jan 13, 1996, after drinking gamma hydroxybutrate or GHB, a drug known for an intoxicating effect that users say is similar to liquor without the hangover. It's also known as a date rape drug because of its ability to incapacitate people, leaving them vulnerable to sexual assault.
Prosecutors contend Geborde knew of its dangers but said nothing to the teen. But Geborde's attorney said his client often used the drug and saw no danger.
''Maybe his conduct was somewhat negligent, but it doesn't rise to the level of murder,'' said attorney Frank Peasley, shortly before going into court.
Although three men in Michigan were convicted of manslaughter earlier this year in the death of a girl who drank a beverage mixed with GHB, authorities say the Southern California case marks the first time someone is being tried for implied malice in connection with such a death.
Geborde is already serving a 41-month sentence in federal prison for a 1999 conviction on charges he made and transported GHB.