Seven Days In May

One Week from Trial, and the Defense Closes Ranks

As we head into the final week before the scheduled May 10 trial start, a final flurry of documents have accumulated in the DC Superior Court clerk’s office.  Most regard defense efforts to limit or exclude certain evidence and testimony. 

At the close of business at Wednesday’s day-long evidentiary hearing, we may be closer to knowing what evidence and experts will actually be presented to the jury.  

More paper will come ahead of Wednesday’s procedural hearing no doubt, but two key defense motions hit last Friday.  Both address their continued concerns over what they may find most damaging.

Defendants’ Reply in Support of their Joint Motion in Limine to Exclude argument and Testimony that the Crime Scene was Cleaned and to Limit argument and testimony regarding Lack of Blood Evidence

Defendants’ Joint Motion in Limine to Exclude Opinion and Speculation Testimony of EMS Technicians and Police Officers

These filings touch on two of the first alarming aspects of the government’s charges, set out when the Ward affidavit detonated in October 2008.  Namely: the supposed lack of blood found at the scene and the recollections of the first responders – the two EMS techs and several MPD officers.

We know why the defense wants this evidence spiked, but on what basis do they argue it inadmissible?  After the jump, the twenty quick pages that spell it all out.

As to the alleged cleaning of the crime scene, this filing signed by Schertler & Onorato associate Veronica Jennings stresses that there were:

“…175 samples and items collected from 1509 Swann Street, including sections of hardwood flooring, a staircase tread and riser, doors, sink drain traps, sections of dry wall, wall board, and a section of a ceiling, determined – as early as October 2006 – that there was no blood on any of it. [bold theirs]

“The FBI Laboratory also tested every sink trap in 1509 Swann Street for blood and cleaning agents and found neither.”

Then the defense blasts away at the government’s contention that lack of blood found at the scene  is evidence of a clean up.  They continue their attack on the credentials of the government’s experts.

In their March 29 motion , the defense spelled out why they wanted the evidence of government expert witnesses, former FBI ace Robert Spaulding and former MPD crime techs David Sergeant, Maureen Walsh, and Joseph Anderson tossed:

“(They lack) sufficient skill, knowledge or experience to testify regarding the degree of external bleeding that would be expected to occur as the result of the particular stab wounds suffered by Mr. Wone.

“(None have) medical background and training in human anatomy…

“None is a medical doctor or forensic pathologist…”

The second defense motion filed wants to spike the EMT and police statements, first laid out in the Ward affidavit, and this subsequent government motion, their Omnibus Opposition to Defendants’ Motion in Limine.

These are two pages of incriminating police statements the defense wants out:

“The observed conduct of Zaborsky, Ward and Price ‘made the hair on the back of [W-1’s (an EMT) neck stand up].”

“W-1 was so concerned with the odd behavior that he visually checked Price’s hands for weapons”

“W-1 saw a very light film of blood with striation marks as if someone had taken a towel and wiped it down Mr. Wone’s chest.”

“W-1 will testify that Mr. Wone’s body presented as if he had been dead for some period of time.”

“These officer all encountered the same, strangely pristine scene, and some will testify at trial about their observations.”

“The government will present the testimony of MPD officers who, upon arrival, observed Price, Zaborsky and Ward huddled closely together and appearing to be whispering to one another.  The officers will consistently testify that Price effectively spoke for all three defendants while on the scene, and by his actions and words was the dominant, and controlling personality among the three men.”

These statements and several others must be striken – the defense contends – because they are “improper opinion testimony.”  Perhaps.  However, the only opinion that matters now is Judge Lynn Leibovitz. 

Wednesday’s hearing may yield greater clarity…or more questions.  There’s still Miranda, SeveranceStatements, Orientations, evidence…and who knows how many more motions to come.  Only seven days until trial but still a long way to go.

-posted by Craig and Doug

Cleaning & Blood Evidence

EMS & MPD Testimony

33 comments for “Seven Days In May

  1. anon in ny
    05/03/2010 at 1:17 PM

    sorry guys, but PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE bring back the old design. this is far too busy and lacking in the previous elegance by simplicity. and the font is too small. why mess with a winning formula?

    • TT
      05/03/2010 at 1:27 PM

      Yes, Anon I agree!

    • Fascinating
      05/03/2010 at 4:53 PM

      … and I like the new design. 🙂

  2. Bea
    05/03/2010 at 1:47 PM

    My first instinct is “nobody likes change” but my second is that we should give it time as we may grow to like it.

    • David
      05/03/2010 at 2:09 PM


      I think you are right, poeple don’t like change, but with the trial less than a week away, our view is that more information will be coming out, obviously, and this new format would better serve the increased information flow.

      Folks can now follow several stories with different threads, at once, which more than likely will occur during the trial, instead of having to quickly wade through older posts to find something they are intriqued with.

      We appreciate all the comments, and hear everyone.


      • ced
        05/04/2010 at 5:18 AM

        Before the comment links changed color so you could see which comments had already been read. This useful functionality has been lost in the new layout, now when you check in to follow the discussion, you have to click through links to find your place. While we’re at it, I would have liked in the previous design, and now do in this one, to be able to see comment links that have scrolled off the comments panel (with the read/unread colors). Dailykos has this functionality with their Recent Diaries link.

  3. MotherOfInvention
    05/03/2010 at 2:28 PM

    I don’t like the new design either, but I do like the way the comment threads are mapped now.

  4. Craig
    05/03/2010 at 3:31 PM

    New Coke, anyone? OK, bad example. (What do I know, I like Pepsi.)

    To augment David’s comment, the new theme and hosting service offers several features, especially some that will aide us while we’re on the go, filing from the courthouse. It also has a better stats package so we have a greater understanding of the audience. We’ll continue to tweak and hopefully improve it as we go along.

    Attaboy to Michael for making it work and for a seamless transition during the wee hours this morning.

    • Clio
      05/03/2010 at 4:14 PM

      Craig, how about these examples: Edsel or Corvair or Jay Leno at 10 or Joan and Melissa Rivers on E!? This new format definitely does not say “Mercedes, Mercedes, Mercedes” to me … at least not yet.

      I do like my new crazy-quilt avatar, though. Smashing!

      • Craig
        05/03/2010 at 4:24 PM

        Clio: A design perhaps for your next caftan, instead of a safari print? 🙂

        • Clio
          05/03/2010 at 4:50 PM

          Brilliant, Craig! Poodle Beach will never be the same.

  5. Bea
    05/03/2010 at 3:39 PM

    Can only imagine how much work went into it (I get frustrated each time I have to ‘update’ iTunes!), so many thanks!

  6. des
    05/03/2010 at 4:10 PM

    you guys have put so much work into this site. it is nice to be able to navigate the different posts much faster and easier. maybe a font change would help? i think it’s tough to read and a little dated looking and a different font could do wonders. (sorry i’m a visual person)

  7. des
    05/03/2010 at 4:11 PM

    oh and the quilts are a little off-putting…

  8. CDinDC
    05/03/2010 at 4:56 PM

    It’s clean and concise. Everything we need on the front page. The enhanced comments section will help to limit the number of people pissed off by mispaced snarky comments.

    It’s a great template-driven website. I like the newspaper/magazine style you’ve chosen.

    Professional state-of-the-art websites run 5K and up. Who needs flash anyway?

    Good job, eds.

    Good job, eds.

  9. Hoya Loya
    05/03/2010 at 5:20 PM

    I like the “newsy” look, particularly appropriate since our eds will likely be breaking plenty of news from their reserved seats near the courtoom door when we finally get to trial next week.

  10. AnnaZed
    05/03/2010 at 6:27 PM

    All I care about is that all of my notices of new posts and subscriptions to threads seem to now be broken. I just thought it odd that there was no post and looked in here. I didn’t get my email notice.


    • Michael
      05/03/2010 at 8:14 PM

      Hi Anna,

      Sorry for the lost notifications. If you subscribed using the RSS feeds you may need to clear any cookies from your browser for The RSS feed links are now just below the “Archives” List. Clicking on these to re-subscribe should activate your subscription to notifications.

      Hope that helps.

      Michael, co-editor

  11. Bea
    05/03/2010 at 8:08 PM

    Now with the new look I decided I wanted a personalized avatar – but then couldn’t figure out how to do it. I am tech-challenged and it makes me appreciate the work done by Michael even more.

    • Michael
      05/03/2010 at 8:18 PM


      You can get your own personalized avatar by going to It is pretty straightforward.

      Michael, co-editor

      • Bea
        05/03/2010 at 10:16 PM


        • Carolina
          05/04/2010 at 7:59 AM

          I knew I liked you. Patti makes me feel like a kid again.

        • CDinDC
          05/04/2010 at 8:51 AM

          GREAT avatar. Love it.

  12. MotherOfInvention
    05/03/2010 at 9:11 PM

    One more thing regarding the layout: I wish Robert’s face figured a little more prominently, in the way that it did in the old layout. Kind helped remind me what this was all about.

  13. Clio
    05/03/2010 at 10:22 PM

    EMS worker Jeff Baker was so alarmed at the scene that “he checked Mr. Price’s hands for weapons.” The proverbial hair must have been “standing on the back of his neck!” That hair-raising on the back of your neck must be a guy thing. My own hair, already in an up-do, does not stand without some solid spray; a good scare would not automatically set it into place!

    In reference to the other document, to Brother Grimm, who would qualify as a forensics expert? Would anyone? Bernie seems to have very high standards for public servants to be credentialed specialists, but he himself has moonlighted as a talking head on everything on Greta’s show. Is he getting paid by the motion, or what?

  14. Hallie Lou Yah
    05/04/2010 at 9:30 AM

    Love the new design!!! Going fancy on us before the big trial – great!

  15. BenFranklin
    05/04/2010 at 10:02 AM

    So all the regulars checked in on the new design theme and ignored the subject of the eloquent, substantive defense motions. Only one relevant comment from the brilliant muse Clio.

    We may see the government get the ass kicking it deserves for the damage & anguish inflicted on the Wone family & the defendants by malicious incompetence.

    The government still has time to stop this before they are totally embarrassed by the facts & a brilliant defense team. I predict dismissal, mistrial, or acquittal.

    • CDinDC
      05/04/2010 at 10:19 AM

      I predict that you will quietly disappear upon conviction.

      • Nora
        05/04/2010 at 1:54 PM

        It depends – is there internet service in the pokey?

        • Carolina
          05/04/2010 at 6:00 PM

          Not on demand, but he’s always got time out on appeal, right?

          • Clio
            05/04/2010 at 8:00 PM

            “I am paying for this microphone, Mr. Green.”

Comments are closed.