Lawyering Up

Joe & Victor hire a friend; Dylan goes from zero to 60 in seconds

For more than two years after the murder of Robert Wone, not a single charge was filed in the case.  Many believe one of the reasons was how quickly the three Swann Street housemates hired legal counsel.

While the defendants have claimed they answered all the of the MPD’s questions on the night of the murder, that was the first and last time Price, Zaborsky and Ward would speak to authorities without their lawyers present.

It is interesting how the hiring of legal defense for the Swann Street housemates occurred so rapidly, but how it happened raised many questions.

Dylan Ward's Attorney David Schertler

Dylan Ward's Attorney David Schertler

In the explosive Legal Times article from August 14th, not only did Emma Schwartz reveal that the “crime scene had been tampered with,” but she also was the first to reveal the Swann Street trio hired legal counsel.  The legal representation seemed to break down along the same lines of how the personal relationship was structured at 1509.

The two men who shared the master bedroom in the home, and were protected by D.C. Domestic Partner laws, were represented by one attorney, while the third man who did not share an “equal” part in the relationship, had retained his own counsel.

Domestic partners Joe Price and Victor Zaborsky turned to a former colleague of Price’s at Arent Fox, Kathleen Voelker.  She is a well-respected attorney in Washington, DC’s legal circles, who is well-known for her white collar criminal defense work.  Even if Voekler’s newest clients wore the whitest of collars, the case itself had nothing to do with insider trading, embezzlement, or money laundering, though.

Voekler didn’t last long on the case, as each of the men have now retained separate counsel as the years have worn on.  Zaborsky retained Thomas Connolly, and Joe Price hired Washington’s Cheshire Cat, Bernie Grimm.

Dylan Ward, on the other hand, didn’t waste a single second.  Right out of the gate, he hired the best of the best when it comes to Washington’s criminal defense attorneys, David Schertler.  And to this day, Schertler is still his lead counsel, and well-respected Robert Spagnoletti has been brought on board for the assist.

Just as the case itself raises more questions than answers, so does the defendants’ approach to hiring legal strategy.  Why did Joe and Victor hire the same attorney initially whose greatest strength wasn’t homicide defense?

Why did Joe Price, an attorney himself who knew best what type of legal jeopardy they were potentially facing, wait to engage hire-powered legal counsel?  Was he planning on running the defense himself, with the hired attorney as the figurehead?  And did the dispensing of Voekler indicate the growing awareness of their legal predicament?

Why did Dylan Ward move so fast to secure top-notch legal representation, which remains in place today?  How did Dylan Ward, who by his own admission wasn’t “career-minded”, know enough to nail down Washington’s top gun?

Ward must have received the advice from somewhere.   Where could it have come from?  And what about informing whoever was paying Mr. Schertler’s freight?

One of the reasons this country is so great is the protection that defendants receive in our criminal justice system.  However, it is odd that so much legal power was needed so early on to protect men who were still only considered “witnesses” to the murder on Swann Street.

-posted by David

70 comments for “Lawyering Up

  1. TK
    08/21/2009 at 11:58 AM

    The questions that leap to my mind are ‘why would Schertler take Ward on?’ and related to that: ‘How the heck could Dylan ever hope to pay for this guy?’

    • CDinDC
      08/21/2009 at 12:34 PM

      Dylan’s father is a prominent cardiologist. Papa is paying

    • Craig
      08/21/2009 at 1:24 PM

      One of the case watchers we talked with thought that the defendants might get discounted rates from counsel, loss leaders so to speak, because the legal teams could profit from the notoriety.

      We’d also heard that another of Schertler’s more challenging clients – Dustin Heard of Blackwater / Nisour Square fame, had negotited a flat fee for his representation. Maybe that’s SOP in those circles.

  2. Perplexed
    08/21/2009 at 12:59 PM

    I agree with CDinDC. Dylan’s dad is a Dr. and his Dad has probably also funded DW throughout all of these years where he has not been gainfully employed in various ways – and that may be why DW has never consistently been gainfully employed – he has never had to be. I speak from personal experience on this (not me personally but I have a family member that this resonates identically with). And when this type of family member (or probably any) gets into trouble with the law, nothing but the best will suffice – and I’m guessing Dad thought twice of the situation more than DW b/c Dad is aware that DW may need the best that money can buy based on not only what actually occurred at Swann St. (someone was killed), but also based on DW’s track record of overall irresponsibility. The father would have also insisted on his son receiving his “own” representation to further try to keep him from being lumped in with the other two – been there before, too! Didn’t someone also write at one of the earlier hearings that DW’s atty. didn’t seem to be being controlled by JP’s atty. as VZ’s seemed to be? There’s a reason for that. DW’s Dad is only interested in getting “DW off.”

    Re: VZ’s and JP’s decision to go with a White Collar atty., they may have thought it was adequate b/c these attys. are used to dealing with much bigger people than the MPD (usually FBI, Justice, IRS, etc.). They would be thinking to call in the “big guns” to shut the MPD down, but she wasn’t “relevant” for this type of case, and it wouldn’t be until later that this would become clear. I would be surprised, also, if they were not constantly advised by her that they should have their own atty.

    JP’s and VZ’s family support system is very very different from DW’s family support system. I think this fact explains the difference in how they went about choosing representation.

    • 08/21/2009 at 9:07 PM

      yes, needham may be a successful doctor in some circles. but it is clear that he failed as a parent to dylan ward. no matter how lance wants to romanticize l’il dyl, he is nothing more than middle-aged garbage — none of us want our kids to grow up not being able to support themselves (relying on the generousity and couch of aunt marcia, and jp before the law partnership and million dollar salary got flushed down the lu). none of us want our kid to be the third wheel in a two person relationship; nor rumored to be battling the blues and the rocky road on a daily basis. yes, dianne, you share in this failure too. you can pay all the money in the world for the not guilty verdict, di and needham – but do you really believe in dyl’s innocence? i suspect dyl did add to his legal team to get the gay perspective – someone who would not judge dyl for his the enema kits, the crew club rumors, the progressive sex.

      if only victor would come to his senses. does he really want to be sharing his husband with a loser the rest of his life?

      • Clio
        08/24/2009 at 10:05 PM

        Well, SDI, at least the Wards’ money is not going to Mitt Romney or, worse, the Reverend Huckabee, although Needham paying for Dylan’s top-drawer defense is in itself an argument for “socialized medicine.”

      • Kimberly
        08/27/2009 at 12:47 PM

        This post by “She Did It” is one of the most callous, heartless, reckless, biased, irresponsible exercises of one’s First Amendment right to spread utter and complete nonsense that I have ever read here (and there are many of those).

        You say Needham “failed as a parent to Dylan.” Really, what qualifies you to say that? Are you a member of Dylan’s family and a first hand witness to the relationship between Dylan and his father? If the answer to that is no, then you are NOT qualified to judge a person you do not even know. Shame on you for attacking innocent people that have nothing to do with this case. Children from outstanding parents can become criminals, and children of criminals can grow to be outstanding citizens. You say, “dianne, you share in this failure too.” Idem.

        You say Dylan “is nothing more than middle-aged garbage.” Really? If you are saying this because you think he is guilty, let me tell you, neither Dylan nor the other two defendants have been convicted of any crime and, whether you like it or not, as far as the law is concerned, they are innocent until proven guilty. (By the way, innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is their right even though you may not like it, just like it is your First Amendment right to make speculative, reckless and irresponsible posts that may potentially taint a jury pool even if the defendants don’t like it.) If you are saying this because he is gay, shame on you. If you say this because of the allegedly drug use, the so called “progressive” sex, the Crew Club rumors, or the enema kits, shame on you as well. For you not to approve of his lifestyle is one thing, for you to categorize a human being you DON’T EVEN KNOW as garbage, is something else. If you say this because he has battled depression, then you are hopelessly ignorant, as depression is a disease (and one that is very common among gays, by the way), not a pair of jeans to choose to put on. And PS, there is nothing wrong with being middle age.

        You say, “none of us want our kids to grow up not being able to support themselves.” Do you know for a fact that Dylan made absolutely no money and was not able to provide for anything for himself? If so, please enlighten us as to how you came into this information, and please do not tell me you are implying this because he has changed careers [yes, massage therapy, cooking, writing, etc, are careers too]. You say “none of us want our kid … rumored to be battling the blues and the rocky road on a daily basis.” Right, we do not, but you speak as if you knew that Dylan intentionally wanted to battle the blues and rocky road. You cannot blame a depressed person for the illness no more than you can blame a cancer patient for the illness.

        You speak of Joe’s “million dollar salary.” Do you work at Arent Fox’s accounting dept? Are you a law partner at Arent Fox? Are you Joe’s financial advisor? Do you work for the IRS? How exactly do you know how much money Joe was making?

        Curiously, you talk about “none of us want our kids to” do this or that. Are you a father? Are you a mother? I’m a mother and I can tell you that parents love their children unconditionally, with their faults and virtues, just like the love us with our own faults and virtues. You ask of “di and needham” if they “really believe in dyl’s innocence.” That question tells me you are not a parent. Otherwise, you would know the answer to that question. Parents want the best for their kids, even if they get in trouble, even if they bring the trouble upon themselves, even if the trouble is a serious crime. That’s because even if we hate, despise, abhor what our children do, we always love them. If my son ever got into a mess like this, you can bet I would use my money to get him the best lawyer I could get him. If you have kids, I sincerely hope no one else treats or judges them they way you treat and judge this guy.

        I know I will be criticized because of these comments. I know my motives will be questioned (I’m Dylan’s father, or Victor’s aunt, or Joe’s brother, Sarah Morgan, or perhaps –gasp– Dylan himself!)*, that it will be made clear that I am not welcome here for lack of the requisite level of defendant-bashing speculation sprinkled with the right amount righteous indignation, and somehow it will be made clear to me that the defendants are in fact guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of all charges plus the murder charge for which they have not been charged with. I say, bring it on.

        * Really, guys, accusing every person that does not jump on the defendant-bashing wagon as Dylan’s father, or Victor’s aunt, or Joe’s brother, or Sarah Morgan, albeit cute at first, is now really old.

        • CDinDC
          08/27/2009 at 3:14 PM


          First I just want to say, I’m not judging your post.

          But I do want to point out something. You say “That’s because even if we hate, despise, abhor what our children do, we always love them.”

          Just as you tell SDI “you are NOT qualified to judge a person you do not even know,” YOU cannot make a statement that speaks for every mother and father out there.

          I’m not clear on your sexual orientation, but I know people who have been disowned by their families. Hated by their families for their sexual orientation. Sadly, it happens, Kimberly.

          So, you should judge SDI’s comments when you make statements same way.

          Secondly, fresh eyes are always welcome, but cut with the hostility. ‘kay? Out of the gate you attack. Ease up. Join in the discussion in a more palatable way. It does make a difference on how people will interact with you.

          • CDinDC
            08/27/2009 at 3:15 PM

            typo…….So, you SHOULDN”T judge SDI’s comments when you make statements same way.

          • SheKnowsSomething
            08/27/2009 at 4:45 PM

            I remember hearing a defense attorney say in a trial once, that when someone starts a sentance by saying “it’s not about the money, but …” or “it’s not about the sex, but … “; you can bet that it really is about the money or the sex. So, when someone starts a response by saying “I’m not judging your post” …

            • CDinDC
              08/27/2009 at 5:43 PM

              I didn’t give a rat’s ass about 99% of that litany. Just the pot calling the kettle part.

              Geez SKS, what’s up with you?

            • galoon
              08/27/2009 at 9:25 PM

              Thanks for that. It’s been a long day and you so just made me laugh out loud.

              • galoon
                08/27/2009 at 9:34 PM

                Longer day than I thought- my reply is for SKS’s comment, not CDinDC.

        • Craig
          08/27/2009 at 3:32 PM

          Kimberly – On behalf of my colleagues, I assure you that you are indeed welcome here as are your comments and opinions.

          Sharp elbows are often thrown here. Those are welcome too.

        • Perplexed
          08/27/2009 at 4:26 PM

          Kimberly, I understand some of your frustration, but I’m going to have to disagree on a couple of points:

          Children are not born as murderers, etc. and murderers do not come from “good parenting.” The whole idea of good parenting is to raise your children to make the right choices and to never make such an egregiously wrong choice (if he or they are guilty). If he is guilty of the crime, and he is an adult, it would still be inaccurate to say his parents were “good parents.” Good parents implies good parenting. Parents do need to take some responsibility for the influence they did or did not exert in their child’s lives for the child’s first 18 years that is a formative mold for them from then on. I agree with you on the issue of depression and it being a mental illness – but know again, that mental illness is not 100% genetic. It is usually a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

          And, whether you are someone’s mother or father is irrelevant of whether you believe your child is guilty of something – anything. Just b/c you are a parent and love your child unconditionally, does not mean you have the right to be blind to their actions.

          I am a parent, and I am not quite sure whether I would pay to get my child the best lawyer money could buy if I believed my child was guilty – I just don’t know, but I know I could not across the board be able to say I would either as you have suggested is natural.

          It is difficult to take all of your blog statements with complete credibility b/c you also made statements built upon a lot of assumptions, as you had accused CDinDC of doing. It has sort of muddied the water and not helped to bring clarity.

          • Perplexed
            08/27/2009 at 4:27 PM

            Sorry, “…as you had accused SDI of doing.”

            • Clio
              08/27/2009 at 5:57 PM

              Welcome, Kimberly. It is comforting to know that Team Price and its fellow travelers are reading every bit of opinion on this site so carefully (and seriously.) Perhaps, all of our appeals to the “witnesses” (and, perhaps, their relevant relatives) to come forward (or really clean) may one day be heard as well. Just a hope.

              P.S. Heartless and callous, to me, would be killing one’s friend and then cleaning him up like a piece of luggage. A few barbed phrases in a blog’s comments section are obviously not equivalent to that type of dehumanization.

              • CDinDC
                08/27/2009 at 8:34 PM

                Bravo, Clio.

                • 08/27/2009 at 9:27 PM

                  kimberly, welcome.

                  i propose that you and i agree to disagree.

                  but i do have some follow-up thoughts about your post:

                  i simply asked in my post whether needham and di believe in dyl’s innocence. i concede that they want the best for the son, but that concept and hope has nothing to do with dylan’s innocence.

                  i simply wonder if needham and di ever doubt the notion that an intruder broke into the home of their son’s lover and his husband at 10 pm, helped themselve to a knife from the kitchen, trotted right by their son’s room without waking him (even though their son had no need to rise early, thus no need to crash so early), kill a talented, handsome gentleman (1 time guest)sleeping in a front room while using said kitchen knife in a way that left stab wounds which resembled wounds that appear to be caused by a missing knife from their son’s bedroom, not steal or rob anything in the home and then be gone into the night – while their son slept innocently and soundly with a magazine on his floor that was opened to a stabbing scene. this story may not cause the slightest doubt or suspicion for many people; i am just wondering if any portion of this scenario ever troubled needham and di; who i agree want what is best for their son.

                  and since you asked, kimberly, yes, i do disapprove of life on the rocky road and the lifestyle that goes with it. if that is what dylan was up to, then yes, i will use words like garbage, pig, trash, etc. to describe such behavior.

                  perplexed, as a parent (yes, kimberly – a gay parent no less), i challenge the notion that you are not sure you would get the best lawyer you could for your child if you thought they were quilty. i would get the best i could afford, regardless of guilt or innocence, and hope for the best – but prepared to accept responsibilty and help my child accept responsibilty.

                  my comments on the failure to parent surround the mental illness and tina rumors. did needham and di know what was going on in their son’s life in the years preceeding the murder of robert wone? should they have known what was going on? does parenting stop at 18, or do those in middle age need counseling, parenting, grounding? would an up and coming legal eagle be alive today if someone intervened to stop reckless behavior, provided additional emotional, financial, other support to battle demons and the blues, . . . who knows? my heart is leading me in that direction, many may disagree, but it is my heart talking.

                  finally, my comments about dyl not being able to support himself come from his own pleadings in the case — and yes, i want something different for my kid.

                  one point that you and i agree on kimberly; dylan has not been found guilty of anything. that doesn’t mean he is innocent; there is a body of evidence which suggests otherwise — time will tell if the evidence is beyond reasonable doubt; by a preponderence of the evidence and/or neither.

                  and finally, oh, victor, it is not too late to do the right thing!!!!! love to friends in my head, bea, craig, cd, clio and others. . .

                  • CDinDC
                    08/27/2009 at 10:52 PM

                    SDI says: “i would get the best i could afford, regardless of guilt or innocence, and hope for the best – but prepared to accept responsibilty and help my child accept responsibilty.”

                    Here, here, SDI….a case that comes to mind is the Mark Hacking case. A young man that murdered his sleeping wife to hide his years of lies and shortcomings. His family understood the weight of the evidence against him and counseled him to come forward and confess if he did, indeed, commit the crime. Mark Hacking did just that and accepted his responsibility.

                    Providing the best legal counsel is one thing if you truly believe your child’s innocence, but providing the best legal counsel only so that your child can remain free is antithetical to “help.”

                    And it’s a harsh reality, but crime deserves punishment.

                  • 08/30/2009 at 2:10 PM

                    i have never seen someone run for the exit quicker than kimberly did, once i brought up the concepts of personal responsibilty and accountability as they relate to dylan ward. fine, she assigns no ownership of dyl’s current lot in life to needham and di; i may disagree but i get that. if not dylan, if not needham and di, then who claims responsibility for the character and/or actions or inactions of dyl?

                    • SheKnowsSomething
                      08/31/2009 at 2:03 AM

                      Put a lid on it already!!

                    • 08/31/2009 at 8:12 AM

                      she knows something;

                      i will be the first one to put a lid on it once justice has been brought in the name of robert wone. until then, i can make no promises.

                      be well, she knows something. peace.

    • AnnaZed
      08/30/2009 at 4:53 PM

      Well this parental responsibility dust up on this thread is interesting. I fall somewhere in the grey area in my thinking on this matter. I think it is likely that Dylan Ward has some sort of chemical imbalance that creates mental stability problems for him, maybe those problems emerged when he was still in the care of his parents. I don’t know that. I do know that anyone’s child could develop such an imbalance and I have sympathy for any parents thus situated. That doesn’t mean that continuing to support one’s adult child as he drifts from job to job and sinks deeper and deeper into drug abuse and alienation is ok. I don’t think that it is.

      Anyway, what this caused me (significantly) to think long and hard upon is the role of another set of parents in this situation: Joe and Victor.

      There has been much speculation on this site, including my own, as to why Victor would continue to stand by Joe and continue to stone-wall the police if he (as he certainly must by now) knows that no elves came in the night and assaulted and murdered Robert. I think that as a parent he is taking the logical (though erroneous) view that his child’s brother (Joe’s child) and his own child are better served if it is not demonstrated in court that Joe is a sex offender and a murderer or (at the very least) an accessory after the fact in the murder of an unarmed man.

      As a parent I can see the faulty logic that would bring one to draw such a conclusion. I am appealing here to Victor or to his advisers to consider that the truth is always the best policy in matters involving children and that creating a shell of a life where this monstrous fact remains cloaked in uncertainty is a poor policy that will come back and bite you and your family deeper and harder than the imagined pain of admitting to the facts now.

      In my own family there was a long standing case where a member of my father’s branch of the family shot and killed his brother-in-law. At the time it was deemed to have been an “accident” involving the cleaning of a gun (why are there so many of those one wonders). These families, due to blood ties of kinship ~ cousins and such, children then, now adults ~ are deeply intertwined. This happened in the 1940s, and it is now acknowledged that my father’s cousin murdered his sister’s husband. It is now known that they had a homosexual relationship and that he was jealous, not of his sister but of a third man. They are all dead now, but the awareness of these facts is now pretty much known by the family and the community as well. It is a shameful thing, but I think it’s better that the truth is out there. I once heard yet another cousin, who was of that generation and thus elderly at the time, express how sad she thought it was that homosexual men of that generation felt such shame and such a need to hide their identities. She did not use that modern cultural identity language, but that’s what she said.

      Victor may feel that as a standard bearer (written up in USA Today no less) for gay families that he must do whatever he can to protect the very idea of his own parenting arrangements regardless of the damage to Robert, his widow and even the society at large. In this I say that he is very mistaken. What his child needs to know is that his father is a moral and responsible person who understands that he is answerable to his community and who does the right thing come what may. I think Victor did the right thing when he called 911 that horrible night and I think he’s got to go deep into his own character and find the wherewithal to take this to its logical and only moral conclusion. He needs to tell the police what he knows. He needs to do that for the children, not in spite of his concerns for them.

      • Themis
        08/30/2009 at 5:19 PM

        I will admit upfront that I think both nature nurture (in the very broad sense, which includes extrafamilial influences) impact a person’s life trajectory early on, though not indelibly.

        Addiction and mental illness are both inherited and learned behaviors. Which is the predominant force in any one person’s journey through either or both reuires a lot of personal history. That said, I’ll share the following.

        Two sisters I know well. Born to teenage parents. The father was a binge drinker before either was born. The mother became an every day drinker while the youngest was in high school (a la “Leaving Las Vegas”). Dad has been treated for major depression. Mom treated for bipolar and unipolar depression, as well as generalized anxiety disorder. Mood and anxiety disorders run in the family.

        Both sisters are now relatively successful professionals. One devotes her life to her only child. The other devotes her life to serving the disadvantaged. Both have and will continue to struggle with depression (oldest) and anxiety (youngest). Having hit middle age, who knows if one or the other will ever lose it. To their benefit, both are intelligent and relatively, very relatively, prosocial.

        My clients. I’ve helped defend or solely defended more than 20 people charged with first degree murder. Most were failed by their parents, assuming one or both parents were involved with their lives. Most suffered from personality, mood, or thought disorders. Many were physcially or sexually abused. I had one client whose mother pimped him out for alcohol from the time he was 8 years old. He became a super self-medicator, and no wonder. Most also had average or sub-average intelligence and education. Of course, I served the indigent so the lack of education is not surprising.

        I guess where I agree with Kimberly is that “bad” parents can produce “good” kids and “good parents” can produce “bad kids”. I think in the latter situation there is usually more than meets the eye.

        But these are only my personal experiences and observations.

        However, if anyone is interested in the sociological aspect of “delinuency”, look up “hawkins and catalano” and “communities that care” on google. It deals with the the risk and protective factors associated with future violence, dropping out of school, etc. It is not “the answer.” Nothing is. But it provides an interesting perspective. The Cities in Schools Program that I worked on as a VISTA Volunteer used it as a model .

        By the way, my “cue” key doesn’t work.

        • CDinDC
          08/30/2009 at 6:02 PM

          Re SDI’s original post, what I get from that post is that Dylan’s family (parents and JP/VZ )have cottled him. The have supported his wayward behavior by “taking care of him” in emotional and financial ways. Now, his parents are supporting him by footing the bill to free him of the obligation to come clean about the night of Robert Wone’s family. To keep him “free” and out of prison, when, in fact, if he has been party to the death of Robert Wone, he should be counseled to accept responsibility for his behavior.

          The parent’s continued financial support for Dylan’s legal defense is a failure of parenting. Teaching a child to be responsible is a part of parenting. And they have failed in this respect.

          • Clio
            08/30/2009 at 8:03 PM

            Needham and Di are not responsible for what happened on August 2, 2006, but they have given the cover-up a lot of unnecessary mileage by funding Schertler and Spagnoletti. Their apparently unconditional love for their first-born son tests the post-World War II wisdom of child-centered families, in which (well-heeled, particularly) parents sacrifice everything (including their judgment) to meet their child’s every need from cradle through well into middle age.

            Kimberly, even parents in a permissive and affluent society such as our own must put public safety and justice above any private love and loyalty; thus, Needham, it is not too late to pull the plug on this expensive charade once and for all. Do it for your four other kids!

        • Just Another Friend
          08/31/2009 at 10:45 AM

          Can we take up a collection to buy Themis a new keyboard? By my count, he’s got about 12 keys that still work.

  3. Bea
    08/21/2009 at 1:12 PM

    My thoughts are in keeping with some of these comments but not all.

    Never underestimate Joe’s sense of himself. I suspect that he WANTED to “rule over” the attorney representing he and Victor so he chose a friend at first. He DEFINITELY wanted Victor to have the same attorney – “same interests, keep him under wraps” – which was part of his grand scheme.

    I only hope that Victor’s attorney realizes the extent to which Joe/Bernie want Victor to fall in line.

    I do wonder, though, about the timing of hiring Schertler for Dylan. While Daddy Needham is paying the bills, cardiologists on the west coast don’t know RIGHT AWAY who to hire. Given how bent Joe was during questioning (“I need to see Dylan” and “are you holding him?”) it seems that he was far more concerned about Dylan than Victor. I always assumed that had to do with guilt – that at the least the police would suspect the guy on the same floor with the murder victim who no one can “vouch” for (since Joe craftily put himself upstairs in bed with Victor). Maybe some guilt on that one – that he’d left Dylan out to dry since he’d gotten Victor to sign on to him being in bed next to Joe, thus the alibi.

    I do think Joe realized Dylan was the initial focus and thought HE NEEDS SCHERTLER (or someone like him) and that meanwhile he’d control Victor by hiring a friend who didn’t practice this type of criminal law to shield himself from further questioning but be able to, again, top from the bottom.

    • Clio
      08/30/2009 at 8:54 PM

      I clicked on the link to Kathleen Voelker’s web page above, and, among other things, she specializes in “witness rights” in criminal investigations. Maybe, Joe retained her at first, not only to broadcast his narrative, but to solidify the self-deception that he and Victor at least were merely “witnesses,” while third-wheel (to the reading public at least)Dylan, “who would never hurt a child,” needed more firepower.

      • Bea
        08/31/2009 at 12:02 AM

        Given Kathleen’s “white collar” practice, “witness rights” may well be in the nature of whistleblower actions. I still think she was a personal friend of Joe’s called on to produce the business card (“they are lawyered up so back off”) and as a means for Joe to keep Victor under wraps.

  4. Perplexed
    08/21/2009 at 2:38 PM

    I am not leaning towards JP having anything to do with the selection of DW’s atty. Don’t underestimate how a parent with lots of money/connections (maybe more so if he lives on the west coast-even if they’re different connections-they usually still lead to an larger ability to obtain key info.) can quickly identify who a leading atty. is in an area of the country such as DC – it is more well known as opposed to lesser populated areas, also. It simply takes a few phone calls to the right people. I get the impression from the description of how the attys. interacted at a previous hearing that DW’s atty. is strictly DW’s atty and could care less whether the others float or sink – which leads me to believe no JP involvement.

    Also, flat fees are not unusual in many different types of cases – in cases of notoriety/litigation and in smaller firms (not multi-national firms such as AF) it would be more likely to be the case – at least that’s my impression from working in many types of firms for over 20 years. Seems like JP’s and VZ’s initial atty. took the case (initially) out of friendship as everyone seemed to be supportive of them at first.

    What I would take from this knowledge of how quickly and the level to which everyone lawyered up is that we can look for DW to throw JP and VZ under the bus (or save his own skin) if it has to come to that (that is – if he is not the largest culprit or if he can claim some kind of mental illness during the time to minimize his own culpability). It’s possible this will get interesting “during” the trial…….

    • CDinDC
      08/21/2009 at 2:54 PM

      Re “throwing under the bus”….I think that would have happened by now if Dylan or Joe acted alone. Since this hasn’t happened, I’m thinking they acted together in some way.

      Victor? Lord only knows. Joe can’t be that fabulous.

      • Bea
        08/21/2009 at 3:56 PM

        Agree. I don’t think Dylan OR Joe could throw the other under the bus without being pulled in too. At least enough for serious jail time (accessory after the fact) which is about the same as what they COULD be facing now. So if they hold tight, the murderer(s) will do much better even if convicted of conspiracy/tampering, provided they aren’t drawn back into murder charges.

        If Victor sings, however, entirely new ball game, and both Joe and Dylan will be pointing fingers and attempting to paint the other as the mastermind and/or the one who used the knife.

        If Sarah is forthcoming about what SHE knows, was told (even if there was a “formal” we-did-not-murder-him mantra – she saw/heard other things which don’t line up) then things will shake up as well. As soon as one link fails (wishing, praying), EVERYTHING will change.

        I only hope that Sarah realizes that by protecting Joe/Dylan that she is all but putting Victor in the boat heading down the river.

        • CDinDC
          08/21/2009 at 4:18 PM

          And Victor was her original “link.”

          Sarah, are you listening?

          • Bea
            08/21/2009 at 6:19 PM

            Not to mention that she could be in some hot water herself if she told authorities ANY lies . . .

  5. Clio
    08/21/2009 at 3:57 PM

    If Schertler is so top-notch, then why was Spagnoletti added? Does “Spag” bring special (sub)cultural knowledge/understanding to which Schertler may not be privy? Maybe.

    • Bea
      08/21/2009 at 6:20 PM

      Hey Clio, Spagnoletti is junior to Schertler in the same law firm. His coming on the scene is not uncommon (top dogs bringing in junior dogs for the less important stuff).

      • Clio
        08/21/2009 at 8:47 PM

        LOL! Thanks as always, Bea.

        • Clio
          08/21/2009 at 11:16 PM

          I clicked on Spagnoletti’s name above, and his bio is impressive. But I could not stop laughing at his firm’s slogan (above the bio), which describes Schertler’s shop as “A Full-Service Litigation Boutique.” A full-service boutique — just like Dylan’s own Chi-Spa but with higher hourly rates! A full-service boutique — it is indeed no wonder Dylan “the global sophisticate” chose them!

          • Perplexed
            08/22/2009 at 1:31 PM

            That’s just legal lingo for firm’s that specialize in 1 or 2 legal niches – used a lot in DC firms, i.e., IP boutiques (Intellectual Property). Sounds weirder if you’re outside the legal field, but quite common.

            • Clio
              08/22/2009 at 2:20 PM

              Thanks, Plex, for that necessary context. I do hope, however, that this particular “boutique” will not give one of its most notorious patrons his (dad’s) money’s worth — let alone, any complimentary skinny jeans or Chanel bags. The customer in this case, of course, is not right at all!

  6. Perplexed
    08/21/2009 at 10:24 PM

    I still put my money on DW rolling first out of the three – I think it will have to come to that. I’m not sure we know all the evidence, which may preclude him having to once we do. I completely now think that there is no chance of VZ rolling on JP – and JP will have convinced him that rolling on DW would be the same as rolling on him. I think DW is the weak link. People who have trouble “finding themselves” are more dangerous (insecure thus dangerous) than those who think they aleady have.

    • Crackho
      08/22/2009 at 8:36 AM

      The fact that Dylan hasn’t yet turned makes me think he did all the dirty work (administered the drugs, stab wounds).

      • CDinDC
        08/22/2009 at 10:17 AM

        As long as they all live together, nobody is going to turn.

      • WH
        08/22/2009 at 12:26 PM

        Crackho, are you the same person as our friend “Former Crackho”? If so, I hope your change in moniker does not indicate a relapse! Stay strong…

        • Crackho
          08/23/2009 at 10:25 AM

          Ooops…yes, its me no absolutely not, there isn’t a valid reason why I forget to write “former” except to say my brain is fried even after many years clean, lol. Gotta laugh about it, I guess.

  7. AnnaZed
    08/22/2009 at 2:46 PM

    In and of itself “lawyering up” is indicative of nothing really. If I lived in that house and this thing happened I would have had a lawyer there the first night (provided that Victor style I wasn’t to hysterical to think clearly) before I answered even the spelling of mt name. There is no upper limit to the potential for harm that a motivated police officer can inflict on an innocent person and self preservation by means of legal counsel (even a legal aide lawyer summoned on short notice) is an inalienable right of Americans. I would make use of it as have these men.

    That said, given that I don’t think there is a completely innocent party to be found amongst these three; the matter of interest is how the lawyering divvies up.

    Victor (oh Victor!) you fool, you complete and utter stupid fool. If Victor is reading this, or anyone who cares even one iota about him is reading this, then give serious consideration to this fact: your interests and Joe’s interests are not one and the same. Get your own advocate, make a deal if you have to and separate yourself from Joe. It’s not too late.

    • 08/22/2009 at 4:53 PM

      what if you lived in the home but were allegedly not there that night, AnnaZed; would you see the need to lawyer up then? victor is not the only fool in this script. yes, you, ms. morgan. what’s in your heart?

      • Bea
        08/22/2009 at 4:59 PM

        Agree that ‘lawyering up’ is definitely wise as a general rule but it flies in the face of “please help our dying friend!” and “let’s find the killer!”. Joe definitely wanted he and Victor to be under the same legal umbrella, likely confused things for Victor about notions of marital privilege, but in the end the lawyers knew they couldn’t rep both Joe and Victor without violating legal ethics and committing malpractice. So Victor has his own attorney, and at least on one occasion, the lawyer distanced Victor from the other two, so I hold out some (remote) hope.

        As for Sarah, it does seem very strange she has counsel. She may being doing it because Joe arranged for it (Sarah, what does that tell you?) and she likes NOT having to deal directly with cops. OR she has something she’s not telling. . .

        • Clio
          08/22/2009 at 10:07 PM

          Miss Morgan has completely dropped out of public view, since her allegedly frosty cameo at Dylan’s infamous birthday party at Halo in May 2007. Has Sarah left the District completely? If she is still in DC, then is she still a confidante to as many (in)eligible bachelors as before August 2, 2006? So many questions — Sarah, please feel free to fill us all in at any time now. Your darling Victor is still under Joe’s thumb at Aunt Marcia’s, but you are most definitely not.

      • AnnaZed
        08/22/2009 at 10:39 PM

        You know, I spend a lot of my free time here going back and reading earlier posts and support docs, and I don’t see where it is suggested by any but some in the comments area that Sarah Morgan was anyplace but where she said she was that night. Has that been credibly put forward as a possibility and I have missed it?

        In short, she has an alibi, right?

        I find it very hard to credit that her friends would lie about this to cover for Victor and Joe. So, I too wonder what exactly it is that she needs counsel for.

        It has been suggested that she knows something about illegal drug use (how could she not) or some sort of previous sexual assault (rather a different matter altogether) or even casual talk about Robert that was not strictly platonic.

        Under the first scenario, if I were her I would make sure that I had the advice of counsel before speaking to the police, and once I had representation I would tell all. This is a murder case not some penny-ante drug investigation. Any lawyer, even a legal aide lawyer, would tell her that her own alleged drug use or guilty knowledge of illegal activities involving drugs is small potatoes compared to the taking of a man’s life and that anything that she knows that might have relevance (like a drop off by a dealer earlier that day or something) should be told to the authorities immediately. I sincerely hope that that is what she has done.

        In the second case, if she has guilty knowledge of these men having assaulted another person previously, or of a plot to assault Robert then she better have a lawyer because she is in deep shit if that can be proved. I will say that if she was privy to either information about a previous assault (who, when, by whom) or even comments that she might have at the time taken for tasteless humor that indicated that these men might attempt to either “seduce” or “assault” Robert then she has every moral responsibility to share that information with investigators.

        In my own case if I lived in a situation like that and I even suspected that my friends had sexually assaulted anyone I would have already gone to the police. If I were her and I even had knowledge of remarks like “I know Robert is coming to indulge his gay side” or some such, I would tell the authorities that as well. I would do all of this with the advice of counsel, of course.

        • Former Crackho
          08/23/2009 at 10:31 AM

          Agree 100% AnnaZed…Not just because I would want to clear my name from any involvement asap, but also because its the right thing to do.

          • Clio
            08/23/2009 at 1:12 PM

            One question: who is Miss Morgan’s legal counsel? Is it still Mr. Rosen?

            • Craig
              08/23/2009 at 6:05 PM

              More on that next week perhaps…

        • Just Another Friend
          08/24/2009 at 11:12 AM

          It has only been in the comments, but her presence (at some point, probably after Robert had died) has been a potential answer to the question, “What happened to the knife and other items that were used in the clean-up?” (towels? tarp/bedcovering?) I don’t think we’ve seen any evidence that suggests that she dealt with those items, but we don’t have any evidence suggesting that ANYONE dealt with those items. But the knife went somewhere… with someone… so I would call this the third potential scenario.

          And a brief shout-out to my friends who are lawyers for Legal Aid and similar organizations. They are some of the finest people I know — better people than I — who are also terrific, terrific lawyers.

          • Just Another Friend
            08/24/2009 at 11:13 AM

            I’m not claiming that this third scenario is “credible,” by the way. It’s just one purely theoretical answer to a nagging question.

  8. Clio
    08/23/2009 at 7:59 PM

    I love that very, very coy segue, Craig; one cannot wait to discover how very, very appropriate that Miss Morgan’s choice of counsel may be.

  9. Themis
    08/23/2009 at 9:56 PM

    Never underestimate the cost of a defense in cases involving lots of forensic evidence. I second chaired a non-capital first case where the total defense bill topped $350K, and I was billing at $65/hr while lead counsel was billing at $85/hr. We were both court appointed, but we also retained a forensic computer expert, ballistics expert, investigator, polygrapher, forensic psychologist, and a few other experts who don’t come as cheaply as court appointed attorneys. Even on a loss leader basis, the bill will be high. For one reason, there aren’t a lot of paying clients who get charged with these types of crimes.

  10. Themis
    08/23/2009 at 10:02 PM

    Apropos of nothing. Am I the only person who thinks the “purported” murder knife looks like a Wustohof Grand Prix I? Make me wonder what type of knife was in the closet.

    • CDinDC
      08/23/2009 at 10:25 PM

      The search warrant documents indicated that it was a Tranchier knife set.

  11. Clio
    08/27/2009 at 11:06 PM

    A random and very, very superficial thought: David Schertler is a rather handsome gentleman, to me, from his file photo above. I find his hair to be especially gorgeous for someone of his (late middle) age; I do hope that the eventual jury is not swayed in the least bit by his aesthetic (if a little shopworn)charms. But not even the distinguished-looking Counselor Schertler, I am convinced, could possibly make one of his clients (and, most importantly, that client’s probable actions) look good. Fingers crossed!

    • Craig
      08/28/2009 at 12:35 PM

      Schertler is a handsome fellow, but from what I’ve seen at the status hearings Connolly is the man. He has presence, bearing and a real command of the courtroom when he speaks..

      Bernie Grimm is a real charmer no doubt, but Victor has the best of the bunch if you ask me.

      • Bea
        08/29/2009 at 2:36 PM

        Oh, Craig, I hope you are right, and that he has some serious talks with his client.

        • Clio
          09/13/2009 at 7:00 PM

          Craig, I think that the course of Friday’s hearing may support your above characterization of Counselor Connolly as the lawyer with the most gravitas in the room. Whether that is a good thing for the government, though, in the long run remains to be seen. Probably in part due to Connolly’s presence, Victor did seem unnaturally ebullient prior to the proceedings, looking younger than his chronologically-younger fellow defendants. Are he and Aunt Marcia about to surprise their boys (turned aged roues)? Let’s hope!

          • 09/13/2009 at 7:34 PM

            i too noticed from the pictures that victor appears to be distinguishing himself in terms of appearance from his co-horts. perhaps, ignorance is truly bliss; and he is not carrying the stress of the knowledge of his roommates — which (when added to years of hard living) could be taking its toll.

            in any event, i hope that victor will do what is just, and what is in his best interests moving forward.

  12. 08/28/2009 at 9:59 PM

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  13. CDinDC
    08/31/2009 at 9:17 AM

    SheKnowsSomething is quite the conundrum this past week.

    SKS originally appeared several months ago to voluntarily offer insight into Sarah’s possible involvedment in the case, and now SKS is getting mighty defensive of anyone making comments about Kimberly’s post.

    What gives SKS? Why so senstive about this particular post? You don’t make a peep in a long time, but you get your hackles up over this.

    Odd to say the least.

    • TK
      08/31/2009 at 9:22 AM

      CDinDC–I’ve been on the sidelines lately (keeping up with the discussion is a bit daunting) but I agree, it struck me reading just this morning that SKS has suddenly seemed like a different person out of the blue. Moderators, can you confirm an IP addy?

  14. Anonymous in DC
    09/01/2009 at 12:20 AM

    Perhaps SKS is defending Kimberly/Sarah?

Comments are closed.