Winners and Losers

Govt’s Streamlined Case Up Ends the C.W.  Who Wins and Loses?

Friday’s status hearing revealed that the government was “winnowing” their case as the May 10 trial date draws near.

By dropping  many of the uncharged conducted aspects and focusing only on the charges against the defendants, the government dramatically changed the contours of the trial.

With this new wrinkle, which certainly caught both the defendants and their counsel by surprise on Friday, let’s look at the winners and losers as a result.

Keep in mind that AUSA Glenn Kirschner’s Uncharged Conduct II filing is due on April 2, days before the next status hearing.

Will he winnow his theories any further?

Read who made the list after the jump.


The Government’s Case: ASUA’s Glenn Kirschner and Patrick Martin stripped away the case’s weakest elements thus strengthening their hand. With the weak flank of arguments about sexual assault, paralytic drugs and torture jettisoned, the government won’t have to defend against powerful defense artillery on this these issues.  Now, the government can focus on their stronger theories and evidence (clean up, lack of blood, no defensive wounds.)  With the weak flank not in a starring the role, the government runs less risk having it color their entire case before a jury.

Jury’s Eyelids: Jury won’t be subjected to as many long-winded experts opining on the methodology of DNA analysis.

Defense’s experts sunk costs: The Defense has already spent money on an array of experts in the uncharged conduct area.  That money has been spent and they won’t see it again, unless it comes to the fore at trial.

Donors to Legal Defense Fund: With less for the defense to defend, will donors to the Swann Street housemates legal defense fund receive rebates?

Blushing Nancys  — Those folks who were queasy with those areas that told secrets out of gay school (BDSM and Polyamory) can rest more comfortably knowing that the jury will only hear about Joe Price, his domestic partner Victor Zaborsky and their roommate Dylan Ward.  That’s all we will hear about the relationship.  AUSA Attorney Glenn Kirschner could fit into this category, and may not have the stomach to try this portion of the case.

Taxpayers: DC taxpayers saved a chunk of change with a shortened trial.


Defense Attorneys’ Billable Hours: The public database shows Victor with one attorney, Joe Price has just one, but Dylan Ward lists four.

Alternate Reality of Henry Lee: Brought on to opine on the DNA evidence, Henry Lee has far less to work with and spinning alternate realties, such as the one found in the Kathleen Peterson case.

The “Frye”ing Pan: No sexual assault, no paralytic drugs, no torture, no need to file Frye motions to prevent discussion of these subjects.  Defense’s lower rung attorneys late-night motion writing just became manageable. Type-A personalities working on the case seriously depressed.

Mae West Rubber Necks: For those hoping for a presentation of Swann Street Confidential, the seedier aspects will not make the main government’s “case in chief”.  Doesn’t mean it can’t show up, say during cross-examination, but the government certainly won’t lead with it.

“Succinylcholine” drinking games: Younger DC case watchers lose out on new drinking game that takes a shot every time a member of media, court, government, defense, and man-on-the-street-interviews mispronounce “succinylcholine” — a paralytic drug. Bar owners re-evaluate May and June bar tabs.

Gay prejudice: Since Joe and Victor are now committed domestic partners, and Dylan is just their roommate, their argument about the government’s gay prejudice takes a disco nap.  What will gay defense attorney Robert Spagnoletti do now?


Sarah Morgan: Now that the trial will strictly be about the charges against the defendant’s, what role will Sarah Morgan’s testimony play?  Is she called to testify, and will she be the protector claiming she knew nothing about the Swann Street housemates proclivities or arrangements, or will she be the truth-teller spilling all she knows about the relationship(s) and why she was mysteriously absent that evening?

Michael Price: What role Joe Price’s younger brother has is now in question.  Will we learn about his fledgling phlebotomy career from the witness stand?  Glenn Kirschner sure loves to talk about him.

These are just a few of the winners and losers and we are sure our dedicated readers can add few of their own.  Please do.

— Posted by David

17 comments for “Winners and Losers

  1. galoon
    03/15/2010 at 4:52 PM

    I used to play that drinking game to The Bob Newhart Show. A shot everytime someone said Bob. Double shot if the dentist said Bob.

    As always, job well done. Keep up the good work.

  2. CJ Biggs
    03/15/2010 at 5:14 PM

    Of course, the biggest winners are the defendants. By dropping much of the uncharged conduct, the prosecution appears to be moving away from the theory that the housemates sexually assaulted and killed Wone. Having the goverment go after you for obstruction of justice is much better than having the government go after you for murder.

    • Doug
      03/15/2010 at 5:53 PM

      CJ: A good point. But the government wasn’t going after them for murder. Nobody, still, has ever been charged with murder.
      Perhaps this is good news for the defendants. But if the prosecution is honing its case and argument, might that not say they know what their strengths are…and are playing to those?
      Another thought: between the hammer of the impending civil case, and the tongs of a (perhaps) strengthened criminal trial, might the defendants be caught in a squeeze? And if so, who is bringing the squeeze, and to what end?
      Doug, co-editor

      • Clio
        03/15/2010 at 11:01 PM

        Doug dearest, one can only hope that the trouple is caught between their Scylla of the Maryland campaigns and their Charybdis of the continuing murder investigation. Who are the sirens pushing our boys to these nightmare monsters of their own making? Could at least one of them be Chief Cathy with a C? “I am woman, hear me roar …”

  3. BenFranklin
    03/15/2010 at 7:27 PM

    The winner is Science.

    The losers are the detectives, MPD & ME! Their incompetence & misconduct is disgraceful! I hope we see forced retirements & resignations & firings as a punishment for their irresponsible case wreckage. The pain they inflicted to the Wones & damages to the defendants is unforgivable!

    Now that the foul waters seem to be clearing, and only if the defendants suppression & severance motions are granted, can we expect the truth to finally surface.

    • SheKnowsSomething
      03/15/2010 at 8:35 PM

      Your problem is chemical — I just haven’t figured out if it’s a physiological imbalance or if it’s something recreational that you’ve injested.

      • Clio
        03/15/2010 at 11:20 PM

        She blinded me with Science!!

    • Ski
      03/15/2010 at 11:17 PM

      She blinded me with science!

  4. Clio
    03/15/2010 at 11:13 PM

    Editors, Birdie reported to me that Officer Wagner’s “reassignment” was deemed irrelevant to the case by the government, but that Lynn suggested that the prosecutors double-check his personnel files just in case. Is that true? And, if so, is Detective “Come to Jesus” Wagner a winner or loser in the streamlining of Glenn’s presentation?

    • Craig
      03/16/2010 at 10:09 AM

      Clio: We’re going to dig through the hearing notes, sniff around and maybe write a little bit more about the Wagner piece. It made me curious.

  5. Clio
    03/16/2010 at 7:32 PM


    BTW, Editors, is Sarah still residing in DC? Or, has she left for the Sunshine State as well?

    • John Grisham
      03/16/2010 at 10:21 PM

      The silence surrounding Sarah “The Joy of Eating” Lee is fascinating!

    • Craig
      03/16/2010 at 10:41 PM

      Sarah still works and lives in the DC area. I doubt she’ll be moving to Florida anytime soon; certainly not with a date at Moultrie looming.

      • John Grisham
        03/16/2010 at 11:07 PM

        What kind of work does she do now?

        • David
          03/17/2010 at 2:13 PM

          From last we knew, Sarah was working in the financial services trade association area in Washington DC area.


          • Clio
            03/23/2010 at 9:55 PM

            Has Sarah since married and had children? Or, is Miss Morgan still enamored with her confirmed bachelors? One would think that, after 08/02/06, she would want to distance herself from this (and other potentially similar) messes.

  6. Robert
    03/17/2010 at 5:14 AM

    This may be irrelevant, but at one time some bloggers were talking about the possiblity that Dylan Ward is subject to depression.
    Because succinylcholine or actually a variant thereof is a fast acting anaesthetic, it is used when administering electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
    NIMH is investigating ketamine for possible use in treating depression.
    I do not know to what degree — if any — these drugs would be available to someone outside of the medical context.

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