Drug smuggler testifies in Bement murder trial
Witness tells court Bement owed Tigard doctor hefty sum of cash
HILLSBORO - A former Mexican drug cartel member came forward and testified in the trail against Brian Bement, a Portland drug dealer charged with the aggravated murder of a Tigard naturopathic doctor in 2010.
John Whittaker worked with Bement and told Washington County Circuit Court Judge Rick Knapp he planned to fly to Portland the day of the murder because of 'discrepancies in Bement's story' about an upcoming drug deal in Cornelius.
'Basically, I smelled a big ol' rat,' Whittaker told jurors on Tuesday.
Bement, 34, is charged with aggravated murder in the 2010 shooting death of David Greenspan, a Southeast Portland naturopathic doctor who ran Greenspan Good Health Clinic in Tigard.
Greenspan was a financier for Bement's drug business, which he operated out of an office in Portland.
Whittaker claimed Bement and Greenspan had worked together to purchase heroin from Mexico and sell it in the Portland area.
Bement's defense attorney Devon Fooks said the two were on their way to a drug deal when Greenspan - high on drugs and paranoid - pulled a gun on his client.
The two fought for the gun, and Greenspan was shot twice in the head and once in the neck, Fooks said.
Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Lesowski said there was no drug deal, merely a plan to get Greenspan alone and murder him in order to rob him of $25,000 in cash and get out of a substantial debt he owed the doctor, who was helping to fund his drug business.
On Tuesday, Whittaker told the court he had worked with the two men as they purchased drugs from a drug cartel in Tiajuana, Mexico.
The men came to Mexico to purchase heroin from 'Malo' a drug dealer with the Westside 18th Street gang, who Whittaker worked for.
Bement and Malo knew each other, Whittaker said.
Whittaker got their drugs ready and arranged for them to be smuggled across the border into California.
Whittaker and Greenspan became friends, and Whittaker made a trip to Portland in January 2010 to talk to Bement, who Greenspan said owed him a large sum of money.
Whittaker said Bement was upset that Greenspan had brought him into the conflict, and things got worse between the two men.
Greenspan was taking drugs more and more, and would be incoherent or fall asleep on the phone with Whittaker, he said. Whittaker said he told Greenspan to stop funding the drug deals, but was told by Whittaker that Bement had a drug deal coming up in Cornelius with Malo himself.
Whittaker had since left the cartel, but said that in the years he had worked for Malo - a street name meaning 'very bad' in Spanish - Malo never traveled across the border for drug deals and didn't involve himself in the actual exchange of money.
'Things were not jiving with what Greenspan said Bement was doing and what was going on in Mexico,' Whittaker said.
Whittaker said he thought it looked like the doctor was being set up for a robbery.
Whittaker planned to fly to Portland on March 13, 2010, - the day Greenspan died - but couldn't get in touch with the doctor before the flight.
Bement's lawyers asked Whittaker if he thought Greenspan had been in a car wreck or overdosed on drugs.
'Those were two of the three concerns that I had,' he said. 'But I had another concern as well."
Bement's trial is expected to last through May.