"That's Bulls–t."

An Attorney Unloads on the Trouple’s Defense, and the Prosecution’s Hubris

From the start we’ve worked to cultivate a deep pool of experienced opinion.  Blood spatter analysts, medical toxicoligists, psychological therapists, homicide researchers, forensic psychologists…and, of course, lawyers. We continue to welcome their thoughts and contributions, where-ever it may take us.

Today, a new addition.

Recently we spoke on the record with DC-area attorney Dale Edwin Sanders – defense counsel with 30+ years experience, and local advocate for gay and lesbian civil rights.  He’s defended drug dealers, kidnappers, rapists, murderers – all alleged.

We first found Mr. Sanders quoted in a number of stories on the murder written by DC Agenda (nee: Washington Blade) reporter Lou Chibbarro.  He’s read key documents, and tracked the case.

“This is lawyering at its best…” offers Sanders of the legal teams.  “I’m impressed by the quality on both sides of this case.  All the lawyers involved have well-deserved reputations in criminal law.   Glenn Kirschner is a man of talent and reputation, as are the defense lawyers, each of whom are talented and dedicated.”

Sanders has seen his share of guilt, deception, court intrigue and surprise.  In short, three decades of witnessing the gamut of life in Metro Washington has provided Mr. Sanders with an acute ear for bullshit.

Mr. Sanders, Esq, is no-one’s fool.  We sense he brings a sharp eye to what looms before us.  And he is clear, in his perspective, of this case.

“I can’t remember this type of case…really different…so interesting…so unusual…a real challenge…very, very wrong…just bullshit…”

This, for the record, from an attorney who was friends with Joe.   Past tense.

“I knew Joe price…I wouldn’t say we were close, but we were friends.  We would see each other at professional and social functions…”

In short: a fair aribiter.  So, who comes out worse: the defense or the prosecution?

Mr. Sanders spares neither side.  His analysis after the jump.

“A phrase prosecutors use a lot is ‘riddled with inconsistencies…’, notes Mr. Sanders, “…so where do we start?”

“Where do we start?” we ask.  “By looking for inconsistencies,” he tells us.

“How do you explain blood in the lint-catch of the dryer?  How do you explain blood in the drain in the back yard?   How do you explain that nothing was taken from the house?  How do you explain that Robert Wone was targeted and [the killer] walked walked right past Dylan Ward’s room and did all these  horrible crimes and nobody heard anything?

How do you explain that there was no blood in the room?  How do explain the blood on the towel?  How do you explain no defensive wounds?   I mean, I’m driving the car!  I haven’t worked 20 hours on cross-examination, and I can just rattle these things off the top of my head….”

Well put, Mr. Counsel.  These, comments from someone who knew Joe Price.

However, the case – colleague or no –  is not so open and shut as one might imagine.

“…We (defense attorneys) get so wrapped up in the details sometimes, that on both sides we lose sight of the big picture.  What happens with the prosecutor is ‘be careful what you ask for.’   If he had decided to go full bore on this sexual assault business, he should be afraid that the judge would give him a green light to do so.

“This is over the top, this is very very dangerous…they have a big trial, the guy’s convicted, then at the DC Court of Appeals there would be an excellent chance that that case would be reversed.

“This evidence is so unnecessary… you don’t need it, as a prosecutor.  It’s over the top, overkill.  Risk a reversal on this?  Highly inflammatory stuff?   The government got hold of its senses, they don’t need this shit.”

His message was apparently received by the prosecution.  His thoughts on the defense?

“It’s true the defense doesn’t have any burden to tell a story.  But they already have, by their statements.  So those statements are going to come into evidence, even though they’re subject to a motion to suppress, among them Joe Price, the lawyer is saying they weren’t properly Mirandized…but their story is going to come out, because they made statements.

“And their story is ‘gee whiz, we don’t know what happened, we were sleeping, we’d only been in bed less than a half hour and this mystery intruder came in and golly gee we don’t know nuthin‘  So the jury’s going to hear that, and it doesn’t make sense.  It’s absolutely, 100-percent inconsistent.”

We’ve heard from other smart attorneys that this case, regardless of its outcome, will make legal history.  Mr. Sanders was initially dubious of the idea.  But as discussion wore on…

“What strikes me is that no-one has gone to the other side yet.  Maybe the offers haven’t been too good…something else very peculiar, and I may be wrong on this, you should verify it, but I seem to recall early on they all were represented by the same law office.  If that’s the case, and the same law firm continues to represent a defendant at trial, then in my opinion there could be ethical problems.  If you came to me, I’d say you pick….because if someone wanted to cut a deal, there would be a conflict.

“The case would obviously be easier if only one of the three were in the house at the time.  But if all three are saying ‘gee I don’t know’, you’ve got to prove which one of the three participated in the evidence destruction and obstruction of  justice, or that all three knew about it, so that is a challenge.  Proving individual culpability could be a legal hurdle that’s resolved in the court of appeals.”

One man’s opinion.  Opinion that comes with some weight.  We will be watching to see what happens in the next five weeks.

posted by Doug

23 comments for “"That's Bulls–t."

  1. Spike
    04/01/2010 at 3:40 PM

    I’m feeling dense and don’t really get what this means? “I can’t remember this type of case…really different…so interesting…so unusual…a real challenge…very, very wrong…just bullshit…”

  2. Hoya Loya
    04/01/2010 at 3:48 PM

    It’s great to have Sanders’ opinion on this case. A number of the lawyer posters here either do not currently practice (ahem), or practice in areas other than criminal law. It is edifying to see that he endorses, from his specific experienced viewpoint, many of the opinions that we have offered – that the intruder story is nonsense, that the prosecution was smart to streamline its case and that the statements are likely coming in. I like his take that the intruder story is coming in through the statements regardless of whether the trouple tries to present it as a defense at trial.

    Most interesting is his comment about nobody taking a deal. I think the answer to his conundrum is that while all three have separate representation, off the record they are still taking their marching orders from in-house counsel Joe Price.

    • Spike
      04/01/2010 at 3:50 PM

      Thank you for translating that for me Hoya.

      • Doug
        04/01/2010 at 4:45 PM

        Spike, sorry this caused confusion. Clearly poor writing on my part.
        Mr. Sanders is clear in his respect for the legal teams assembled…but finds several elements of the story put forward by the defendants (in their interrogations) lacking. His assembled observations here were, in turns, comments on the oddness of prosecuting an obstruction case in a murder without bringing murder charges, the various explanations offered as to what happened that night, the prosecution’s gambit to pursue sexual assault, and the many inconsistencies arising from this case.
        -Doug, co-editor

    • CDinDC
      04/01/2010 at 4:52 PM

      Hoya Loya says: “It is edifying to see that he endorses, from his specific experienced viewpoint…….that the intruder story is nonsense…”

      It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a lawyer, or even a sand salesman to see that the intruder story is full of ess-H-eye-tee. And as Themis said not too long ago, a jury is comprised of laymen.

      • Hoya Loya
        04/01/2010 at 5:27 PM

        CD: You’re giving lawyers too much credit.

    • AnnaZed
      04/01/2010 at 5:14 PM

      I’m with you Hoya, I found it very interesting that he was surprised that no one had broken ranks yet. I have continued to find it odd myself. Probably I am a shallow self serving sort of a wench, but when the pushing became real shoving in a situation like this I am afraid that my sweetheart (known as sweetassbergerman to those near and dear to him) would be under the bus in a heart beat. Fortunately sweetassbergerman is totally incapable of any of the deeds known or alleged to have been perpetrated by these guys (not least the actual talking part), but still I would not place myself at such risk for him, no way.

      So, can we assume that whatever deals the government is offering to anyone (probably Victor) they just aren’t sweet enough or significantly don’t include the possibility of getting off completely unscathed and incarceration-free, so the men continue to brazen it out. As noted above, as long as Joe is essentially acting as senior in-house (literally) counsel the best interests of his lovers and friends will always be secondary to his own personal campaign however so delusional it may be.

      • Hoya Loya
        04/01/2010 at 5:43 PM

        I seem to remember Kirschner saying, either at a recent hearing or in a filing, that the prosecution is ready to deal but that none of the three is coming forward with anything (“golly gee we don’t know nuthin'”).

        I could stomach one of the three walking, whatever their level of involvement, so long as they show remorse, reveal what really happened and put the killer(s) away.

        • Bea
          04/01/2010 at 7:57 PM

          I’d go for that too – if, for example, Dylan was there but did not stab him, AND Dylan told the whole truth and Joe, for example, went away for murder. JohnGrisham may be right that Victor was more involved than I think, but I’d rather still that he put BOTH killers away for murder in exchange for testimony.

          I suspect that Victor doesn’t have the balls or spine to send both his lover and his lover’s lover away (if Dylan’s gone, who could sit around talking about Joe with him?). And the prosecution likely prefers NOT to deal with Dylan (or Joe) if they have a chance at getting two-for-one.

          My guess is that either Dylan or Joe would have sung long ago – why Victor doesn’t know this is incomprehensible.

      • former crackho
        04/01/2010 at 9:56 PM

        I’ve always felt (and believe I have stated so here) that the ties that bind the trouple together go much deeper than the intricacies of this case. They all have way too much info on each other – and are all equally guilty – of this crime and probably others. I don’t think its possible for any of them to turn without throwing themselves under the bus as well. They know that sticking together is better than the truth coming out.

      • John Grisham
        04/02/2010 at 12:30 AM

        No one has broken ranks now, because obviously, they all did it.

        • John Grisham
          04/02/2010 at 12:39 AM

          Victor and Sarah had foreknowledge of the fateful event. And were involved in the clean-up and cover-up.

          • John Grisham
            04/02/2010 at 12:42 AM

            John and Tom have the most to lose — or protect — by being honest.

            • John Grisham
              04/02/2010 at 12:53 AM

              Sad, watching ordinarily decent people strangle themselves.

            • Clio
              04/02/2010 at 5:54 AM

              Accordingly, Editors, we need that promised, “respectful” piece on the former basement tenant and her bachelor friends in the neighborhood. A urban geography detailing the path that Sarah may have taken to her friends would also be useful for future historical preservationists.

  3. Friend of Rob
    04/01/2010 at 5:07 PM

    Seems like the lint trap and outside drain evidence don’t get much mention here but this guy thought it was among the most damning.

    • Bea
      04/01/2010 at 8:02 PM

      I don’t know what the prosecution’s response will say about the notion that the trap did NOT test positive for blood, but I suspect the defense will be doing all in its power to keep evidence of blood-going-down-the-drain OUT. Not that they’ll succeed, but it will be near the top of the wish list.

    • BenFrankin
      04/02/2010 at 10:10 AM

      It’s not damning at all. Don’t forget Sarah’s bloody panties. She shared that washer & dryer at least once a month.

      Certified dogs alert to phantom scents indicating sites to test in the lab. But even the FBI lab could find NO blood traces in the dryer lint trap or the patio drain.

      And the notion planted by the EMT’s & bad cops that the the defendants “appeared freshly showered” is busted. If they had Wone’s blood on them & they showered, traces would have been found in the u-trap drains that were analyzed carefully in the FBI lab.

      Monday is going to be interesting.

      Hoping for severance so we can get a break in the ranks & eventually hear the truth.

      Hoping all “negative” evidence is limited for fairness.

      Hoping for suppression on constitutional grounds, if warranted.

      Hoping for the long-shot dismissal if anything in the recent prosecution withheld discovery is exculpatory. Expect delays due to this wreckage.

      The Government’s case stinks.

      • SheKnowsSomething
        04/02/2010 at 10:28 AM

        Sarah’s basement apartment was equipped with a stackable washer/dryer.

        • David
          04/02/2010 at 11:10 AM

          SKS,

          You have noted before that it was not uncommon for Sarah to stay and Tom and John’s place during the week. Do you know if those stays were when Victor was on travel, and so Dylan and Joe would have the place to themselves?

          David

          • SheKnowsSomething
            04/02/2010 at 11:16 AM

            Sorry, I can’t help you there as I wasn’t attuned to Victor’s movements, so I never noticed any coincidences between Sarah’s sleepovers and Victor’s travel schedule. Sounds like a good topic to explore under oath during the trial, no?

  4. Clio
    04/01/2010 at 8:56 PM

    Joe, unfortunately, still firmly upholds the “bullsh-t” of the intruder theory, and, since this case is all about Joe, there will be no deals or dismissals, I imagine, until he is finally jailed and shamed.

    The elder Price, the center of the axis of evil at 1509 Swann, will hold out until the bitter end, though, putting the Wone family and friends through even more agony and heartbreak. The only solace here is that his weak satellites will go down hard with him.

  5. Robert
    04/05/2010 at 8:08 PM

    While admittedly I do not share Sanders’ expertise to make assessments about the professional skills of the prosecution or defense attorneys, I did point out to friends and other inquiring minds virtually all of the inconsistencies he cites, within days of the murder and subsequently on this blog.
    HOYALOYA
    It was my impression that some sort of deal was offered to Michael Price, prior to the alleged burglary charge being dropped?
    I would speculate that attempts have been made to persuade Victor to turn state’s evidence.
    If I am correct in my conclusions about the roles played by Joseph and Dylan, I do not think that a prosecutor would offer either of them a deal.
    CDC I agree that a jury should not have to be full of rocket scientists to conclude that the intruder story is full of something else.
    ANNAZED I agree with you that it is likely that Victor’s involvement was comparatively minimal.
    BEA
    But I think that Victor’s blinding love for Joseph rather than Joe’s case management explains why he won’t “rat” on Joseph or implicate Dylan.
    JOHNGRISHAM
    I would disagree that everybody was involved the same way and to the same degree, or that Sarah and/or Victor had prior knowledge that Joe and Dylan were first going to have sex with Robert and then murder him that evening or any other time.
    And outside of Sarah’s comings and goings, I don’t think that Tom and John know anything.
    BENFRANKLIN
    As Sanders indicates, traces of blood were found in both the lint catch and the backyard drain. DCMPD
    errors will probably mean that this will be of little use at trial which should make you only too happy.
    P.S. Do you have personal knowledge of Sarah’s menstrual or washer/dryer cycles?

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