Skimpy Briefs

Pink Paper Ponders Paralytics

Two weeks after the September 11 status hearing in the Robert Wone case, DC’s flagship gay paper, The Washington Blade offers a summary on the day.

washington-bladeThe piece by longtime Blade scribe Lou Chibbaro was filed on September 25, but didn’t hit the print edition until this week, the paper’s Local Briefs section of the October 2 issue. 

The page 6 story had this headline:

Flap over Paralytic Drug Surfaces in Wone Case.

Chibbaro’s lede cuts to the chase: Judge Frederick Weisberg’s reluctance to allow the prosecution to introduce their theory that Robert was drugged by injection before he was stabbed to death.  The US Attorney’s office has long held this idea to be a key piece of their strategy in prosecuting the case: drugging and a sexual assault preceded the murder. 

How this theory may impact the trial on conspiracy, obstruction and tampering charges against Joe Price, Dylan Ward and Victor Zaborsky has long been a topic of discussion on these pages.  

Whether it even survives by the time Judge Weisberg gavels the May 2010 trial into session remains up in the air.  We may have a better indication by the next status hearing on November 6th, not the 13th as indicated in the article.

The full piece after the jump.

Flap over Paralytic Drug Surfaces in Wone Case

Judge likely to require more evidence in murder theory

By LOU CHIBBARO JR.   Sep. 25, 2009

A judge told prosecutors in the Robert Wone murder case that he’s “reluctant” to allow the government to introduce at trial its theory that someone injected Wone with a paralytic drug before stabbing him to death inside three gay men’s home in August 2006.

During a Sept. 11 status hearing, D.C. Superior Court Judge Frederick Weisberg said he would likely require the U.S. Attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case, to come up with more evidence to support its paralytic drug theory before he would allow it to be raised at trial.

The trial, set for May, will determine the guilt or innocence of Joseph Price, Victor Zaborsky and Dylan Ward, who are charged with obstruction of justice, evidence tampering and conspiracy in connection with Wone’s death. Police said they found Wone stabbed to death in a second floor bedroom of the Swann Street, N.W., townhouse where the three gay men lived at the time of the murder. No one has been charged with murder.

The men have pleaded not guilty to the charges and have said an intruder killed Wone as he spent the night at their home after working late at his downtown office. Wone, who was married and identified as straight, was a longtime friend of Price.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Martin, one of the prosecutors in the case, told Weisberg the government has presented sufficient evidence from an autopsy report that precise knife wounds on Wone’s chest could not have been made without Wone having been immobilized by a drug.

But attorneys representing the three gay defendants said the government is not providing the defense with the evidence needed to mount an adequate defense and called on the judge to order the government to turn over its evidence.

Weisberg scheduled a follow-up hearing for Nov. 13.

 

Our thanks to Lou and the Blade staff for continuing to follow the case. 

-Craig

  

 

26 comments for “Skimpy Briefs

  1. Clio
    10/03/2009 at 5:14 PM

    Thanks, Lou. Now, for your next reading and writing assignment, prepare a 1,000-word essay on the significance of both the Durham statement and the Maryland campaign. Be sure to cite both your secondary and primary sources properly, and be sure to publish it before, say, it turns into history!

  2. Clio
    10/03/2009 at 5:14 PM

    Thanks, Lou. Now, for your next reading and writing assignment, prepare a 1,000-word essay on the significance of both the Durham statement and the Maryland campaign. Be sure to cite both your secondary and primary sources properly, and be sure to publish it before, say, it turns into history!

  3. Mike
    10/03/2009 at 7:58 PM

    And, Lou…next time could you leave in the part about the (quite suspicious) needle marks?

  4. Mike
    10/03/2009 at 7:58 PM

    And, Lou…next time could you leave in the part about the (quite suspicious) needle marks?

  5. Clio
    10/03/2009 at 10:34 PM

    And, finally, Lou, could you at least get the date of the upcoming status hearing right next time? Half-hearted investigation yields uneven coverage: details at 11 … or whenever!

    • Craig
      10/04/2009 at 12:00 PM

      We got the chance to meet and chat with Lou at an earlier status hearing. His reporting creds are solid and as any regular Blade reader knows, he carries nearly every edition of the paper, byline after byline after byline.

      We will always welcome his coverage and any exposure he can give to Robert’s murder for Blade readers.

      • Clio
        10/04/2009 at 8:58 PM

        I love Lou as a reporter, too, but one has to admit that his formidable talents have not always been put to the best uses in reference to this case. Simply put, that “skimpy brief” was certainly not his best work: it was more than just a few days late and a few facts short. Maybe, Lou’s own editors made the decisions that made his “news” about the status hearing seem stale and incomplete; that dumbing-down and streamlining is happening in too many newsrooms (short on both cash and staff) today.

        But then again, Craig, you are right in that any publicity, however truncated, for the case is good publicity, and, for that and any crumb, we as case watchers should be grateful.

        Thankfully, Editors, this Weblog long ago superceded the Blade on providing case developments and analysis. Accordingly, let’s hope that both lavender and non-lavender members of the Fourth Estate may continue to be regular readers.

  6. Clio
    10/03/2009 at 10:34 PM

    And, finally, Lou, could you at least get the date of the upcoming status hearing right next time? Half-hearted investigation yields uneven coverage: details at 11 … or whenever!

    • Craig
      10/04/2009 at 12:00 PM

      We got the chance to meet and chat with Lou at an earlier status hearing. His reporting creds are solid and as any regular Blade reader knows, he carries nearly every edition of the paper, byline after byline after byline.

      We will always welcome his coverage and any exposure he can give to Robert’s murder for Blade readers.

      • Clio
        10/04/2009 at 8:58 PM

        I love Lou as a reporter, too, but one has to admit that his formidable talents have not always been put to the best uses in reference to this case. Simply put, that “skimpy brief” was certainly not his best work: it was more than just a few days late and a few facts short. Maybe, Lou’s own editors made the decisions that made his “news” about the status hearing seem stale and incomplete; that dumbing-down and streamlining is happening in too many newsrooms (short on both cash and staff) today.

        But then again, Craig, you are right in that any publicity, however truncated, for the case is good publicity, and, for that and any crumb, we as case watchers should be grateful.

        Thankfully, Editors, this Weblog long ago superceded the Blade on providing case developments and analysis. Accordingly, let’s hope that both lavender and non-lavender members of the Fourth Estate may continue to be regular readers.

  7. Themis
    10/03/2009 at 11:59 PM

    CDinDC is right on at least one point.

    To paraphrase Arnold, I am back . . . for at least one more post.

    To those who smuggly, even perhaps snidely, presume guilt and interpret all evidence to support his/her theory, think about this.

    There were two grand juries that looked at this case. The first returned no charges. The second returned “secondary” charges, i.e., no murder charges. Under DC law, every grand jury sits for at least a month, and there are multiple grand juries sitting at any one time.

    I am not going to proclaim anyone either guilty or innocent. Not my job.

    But, as a despised defense attorney who is only worth being spit upon and subject to ad hominem attacks (and yes ad hominem can be used with nothing to follow according to m-w.com, though certain “learned” posters disagree), I think it is worth noting that even the judge is not necessarily open to wide ranging theories of guilt.

    I wish for justice as much as anyone, but self-congratulatory pronouncements of “obvious guilt” and mutual reinforcement of the beliefs of those who can’t even begin to see problems with the prosecution’s case serves no one, not even Robert.

    By the by, most reagents don’t destroy DNA. If Ashley’s did, it was a poor (or maybe intentional) choice.

    Let the attacks fly. Whether they land in a hospitable spot likely will not be known until next year.

    • Michael
      10/04/2009 at 2:33 AM

      Themis –

      Your comment serves as an important reality check for all of us seeking truth and justice in this case.

      We all must keep in mind that the Prosecution must convince a jury of the Defendants’ peers that they are guilty as charged beyond a reasonable doubt. What may be seemingly obvious may be unsupported by the evidence.

      In this particular case, we are faced with highly talented Prosecutors, Defense attorneys and a judge known for trials of ghastly and mind-boggling crimes.

      Thank you for the reminder and reality check.

      – Michael, co-editor

      • Clio
        10/04/2009 at 10:59 AM

        Themis, my fellow goddess, welcome back! Your (usually, except for that awful day) Olympian sense of detachment has been missed, and your points about the grand juries are especially sobering. This forum is a big tent, not (what you labeled) “a tea party,” and it is big enough to accommodate even the distanced perspectives of “despised” defense attorneys. So, for Robert’s sake, don’t be a stranger, dear!

        P.S. Did Zeus ever get you a new keyboard? I’m still waiting for mine.

        • cdindc
          10/05/2009 at 9:11 AM

          😀

      • Craig
        10/04/2009 at 11:45 AM

        I heartily second that emotion. Welcome back and thanks for the reality check on this seemingly unreal and surreal case. Craig

  8. Themis
    10/03/2009 at 11:59 PM

    CDinDC is right on at least one point.

    To paraphrase Arnold, I am back . . . for at least one more post.

    To those who smuggly, even perhaps snidely, presume guilt and interpret all evidence to support his/her theory, think about this.

    There were two grand juries that looked at this case. The first returned no charges. The second returned “secondary” charges, i.e., no murder charges. Under DC law, every grand jury sits for at least a month, and there are multiple grand juries sitting at any one time.

    I am not going to proclaim anyone either guilty or innocent. Not my job.

    But, as a despised defense attorney who is only worth being spit upon and subject to ad hominem attacks (and yes ad hominem can be used with nothing to follow according to m-w.com, though certain “learned” posters disagree), I think it is worth noting that even the judge is not necessarily open to wide ranging theories of guilt.

    I wish for justice as much as anyone, but self-congratulatory pronouncements of “obvious guilt” and mutual reinforcement of the beliefs of those who can’t even begin to see problems with the prosecution’s case serves no one, not even Robert.

    By the by, most reagents don’t destroy DNA. If Ashley’s did, it was a poor (or maybe intentional) choice.

    Let the attacks fly. Whether they land in a hospitable spot likely will not be known until next year.

    • Michael
      10/04/2009 at 2:33 AM

      Themis –

      Your comment serves as an important reality check for all of us seeking truth and justice in this case.

      We all must keep in mind that the Prosecution must convince a jury of the Defendants’ peers that they are guilty as charged beyond a reasonable doubt. What may be seemingly obvious may be unsupported by the evidence.

      In this particular case, we are faced with highly talented Prosecutors, Defense attorneys and a judge known for trials of ghastly and mind-boggling crimes.

      Thank you for the reminder and reality check.

      – Michael, co-editor

      • Clio
        10/04/2009 at 10:59 AM

        Themis, my fellow goddess, welcome back! Your (usually, except for that awful day) Olympian sense of detachment has been missed, and your points about the grand juries are especially sobering. This forum is a big tent, not (what you labeled) “a tea party,” and it is big enough to accommodate even the distanced perspectives of “despised” defense attorneys. So, for Robert’s sake, don’t be a stranger, dear!

        P.S. Did Zeus ever get you a new keyboard? I’m still waiting for mine.

        • cdindc
          10/05/2009 at 9:11 AM

          😀

      • Craig
        10/04/2009 at 11:45 AM

        I heartily second that emotion. Welcome back and thanks for the reality check on this seemingly unreal and surreal case. Craig

  9. unknown_soldier
    10/04/2009 at 12:26 AM

    I notice that a number of posters claim experience with the law or forensics. It would be helpful if posters identified their credentials. After all, a certified CSI is in a different league than a fan of forensic files. Much like a law student intern is not an attorney.

    • John Grisham
      10/04/2009 at 12:41 AM

      Hi Unknown. For whom would this be helpful? Have you presented your credentials?

    • cdindc
      10/05/2009 at 8:29 AM

      This isn’t a court of law, unknown_soldier. You don’t need credentials to express an opinion or to share information.

  10. unknown_soldier
    10/04/2009 at 12:26 AM

    I notice that a number of posters claim experience with the law or forensics. It would be helpful if posters identified their credentials. After all, a certified CSI is in a different league than a fan of forensic files. Much like a law student intern is not an attorney.

    • John Grisham
      10/04/2009 at 12:41 AM

      Hi Unknown. For whom would this be helpful? Have you presented your credentials?

    • cdindc
      10/05/2009 at 8:29 AM

      This isn’t a court of law, unknown_soldier. You don’t need credentials to express an opinion or to share information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *