What’s Another 30 Days… Or 60 Years?
We are now exactly one month away from the next court date in the Wone case. DC Superior Court Judge Frederick Weisberg has scheduled a status conference for April 24. Perhaps on that day we learn the outcome of the defense team’s Bill of Particulars motion, asking the prosecution to offer more specifics and details on the pending counts and charges against the three housemates. There also remains a possibility a trial date may be set at this hearing.
Judge Weisberg has had his share of tough cases. Also before him is the notorious case of Banita Jacks, a mother accused of killing her four children in January 2008. Authorities said the four girls were dead for up to six months before being discovered and that they had been stabbed, strangled and beaten.
We’ll have to do a more thorough audit of what’s been written about Judge Weisberg, but a cursory search turns up this Washington Post story from last September, quoting:
“Weisberg is one of four judges at D.C. Superior Court who oversee the District’s most violent crimes: murder, rape and sexual assaults.”
But it was this Slate column from 2003 that stands out. Slate’s Pressbox columnist, and former Washington City Paper editor Jack Shafer, shares this about a Weisberg ruling and the reaction to it by Washington Post columnist Colbert King:
(King’s) Sept. 21 column, “A Washington Welcome for Hattie Purefoy,” chronicles the prosecution of a man accused of repeatedly stabbing a woman in the back and chest during a hold-up attempt. The prosecution, which had three eyewitnesses, charged the man with intent to kill while armed and wanted him detained indefinitely for trial.
But D.C. Superior Court Associate Judge Frederick H. Weisberg rejected the charge. King demolishes Weisberg with the stupidity of his own words. “Somebody wants to kill somebody, he can kill somebody. He didn’t. He took her purse and ran,” the judge said. “And maybe he wanted to kill her. But if he wanted to kill her, he could have and didn’t. Look, this is a silly argument to have.”
Rather than scrutinize Judge Weisberg’s conduct, King reports, the court’s senior judicial leadership poked around in hopes of finding out who alerted the columnist to the story—even though the matter was heard in open court. The same judge later released from jail a baby sitter charged with throwing a 9-week-old baby out a second-floor window.
King, a Pulitzer prize winner and weighty presence on the Post’s opinion pages has taken it upon himself to chronicle the city’s seemingly never-ending body count, woefully inadequate resources, and the sometimes slipshod work by DC’s law enforcement and criminal justice systems. Few cover these mean streets like King and his February 28 column is particularly haunting.
He wrote not of a recent crime but instead reached back 60 years to, when as a child growing up in old Foggy Bottom, his neighborhood learned of the savage killing of an 8 year old boy in Rock Creek Park – Harrison McKinley Walker. Harrison was sexually abused, stabbed, slashed repeatedly and his skull crushed.
Then King provides the all to familiar context; he recounts the failed police investigation, neighborhood rumors swirling about the real culprits, bureaucratic bickering and how “Every lead in the murder appeared to have vanished.” DC Police destroyed the file on Harrison decades ago. Interest in the case may have dissapaited long before that. Harrison remains another unsolved cold case, like Robert Wone apparently.
-posted by Craig