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BRIDGE WITNESS SAYS ATTACKER OFFERED TO SELL WOMAN

A witness to a woman's beating and fatal plunge off a bridge says most onlookers were afraid to intervene against a man so enraged at his victim that he offered to sell her.

"He asked if `anybody wanted to buy some of this . . . because she has to pay for my car,' " witness Harvey Mayberry told The Associated Press. "A couple little . . . kids said, `I've got $10,' and things like that.""It's not that people didn't want to help," he said. "We were in a position where we could not help."

Deletha Word, 33, drowned in the predawn hours on Aug. 19 after she jumped from the Belle Isle bridge into the Detroit River. Mar-tell Welch, 19, was charged with murder.

Several hundred mourners gathered Saturday for Word's funeral.

"She fought to the end like a true warrior by going over the bridge," a friend, Demetrius Daniels, said in a eulogy Saturday at Temple of Faith Baptist Church. "She let the world know she'd rather be free than be enslaved."

Friends and family members lined the church aisle to gaze at Word, who lay in a white casket with a bouquet of chrysanthemums, wearing a white dress with lace and gold buttons, her hands in velvet white gloves.

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan showed up for the service, but honored relatives' request that he not go inside. Their reason was not immediately known. He said he hopes to meet with Word's family this week.

Richard Padzieski, an assistant Wayne County prosecutor, said Mayberry's allegation Friday that the suspect offered Word to the crowd was new.

"Either his memory has improved or he's embellishing," Padzieski said.

Police Cmdr. Gerald Stewart also said he had not heard the allegation.

However, Mayberry, a 40-year-old city bus driver, said he was positive about what he saw and would submit to a lie-detector test.

Mayberry said he was among 15 to 20 people on the bridge who watched in horror as the man slugged, kicked and choked the woman, who had been stripped to her panties.

He said the attacker then dragged her toward the edge of the bridge, picked up a jack and said, `I ought to throw you over the bridge.' "

"Just as he was getting closer, that's when she stepped over the edge of the bridge. She stood there for five or 10 seconds. Once he drew the jack back to hit her, that's when she let go."

Stewart said other witnesses have said the attacker wielded a tire iron against the woman's car but had put it away before Word jumped into the river.

Mayberry said two men in the crowd jumped into the water to rescue Word, but she apparently thought they also meant harm.

"She went from a smooth swim to a fast, panicky swim." She turned toward the deeper water and eventually went under, he said.

Her body was found several hours later. Mayberry said Word didn't say anything during the attack, which happened after a traffic accident.