Pre-trial hearing Day 2: Wrap-up

Tuesday’s afternoon hearing began with some of Judge Leibovitz’ housekeeping to keep the outstanding motions moving forward as opening statements approach.

At the top of the list: the government’s filings of references to substantiate the expert witnesses David Sargent, as a burglary expert, and Deedrick and Spaulding’s experimental methodology.  The ruling: Sargent will be permitted to testify, Deedrick and Spaulding still pending.

The burglary opened up a lengthy discussion regarding the grand jury testimony of Dylan Ward and Victor Zaborsky in the matter of the October 2006 burglary of 1509 Swann Street by Michael Price and his accomplice. The government wants to include this testimony to demonstrate a “State of Mind” among the defendants; i.e., just as they delayed the reporting of the robbery because it involved a family member, they also wanted to confer with Joe and legal counsel prior to reporting the robbery. 

Thus the same “State of Mind” to not be completely forthcoming in the murder at 1509 Swann because the defendants knew the murderer was a member of their family.  After much argument, Leibovitz ruled the burglary was relevant, assuming appropriate redactions so as not to infringe on Joe Price’s constitutional rights.

The remainder of today’s hearing was dedicated to the jury selection questionnaire.  After the jump, how they approach seating the jury.

Judge Leibovitz demonstrated a “green” (or pragmatic) attitude by stating that there would not be a written questionnaire for prospective jurors to complete.  Besides the volume of paper consumed, Leibovitz puts value in the one-one-one interviews as more effective in revealing any bias.  From her point of view, the three challenges in the jury selection are:

  1. the anticipated duration of the trial,
  2. the degree of publicity that the case has generated, and
  3. bias with regards to the defendants’ sexuality

Defense attorneys Schertler and Grimm jumped on the media coverage and publicity matter zealously. Schertler felt that the publication of the Affidavit in Support of the Arrest of Dylan Ward created bias in the minds of potential jurors. He also characterized media coverage, citing the Washington Post, Washington City Paper, the DC Examiner, and “…many Internet sites, focused on the Robert Wone case…”, as inaccurate and damaging to the character of the defendants.  Not leaving well enough alone, Bernie Grimm chimed in saying that “…if the court were to read this is vicious…”

Moving Forward:

Jury selection begins Wednesday at 10AM and is expected to continue through Thursday. Friday afternoon will revisit Deedrick’s  and Spaulding’s experiments, the motion to suppress the statements of the EMTs, and other matters.

Trial TidBits:

Today’s hearing included a sometimes defensive and confrontational Dylan Ward on the stand under cross examination by Glenn Kirschner. Ward testified that he did not know where he was to be taken for his polygraph test, and bristled when Kirschner read transcript excerpts from that night that indicated Ward was asked if he knew the FBI Building in DC, and Dylan said he did know the building.

Ward also testified under questioning by Robert Spagnoletti that Officer Diane Durham was the first person from the MPD that he encountered at 1509 Swann. On cross examination Dylan’s voice took on a heated tone when Kirschner asked if he knew Officer Diane Durham’s name on the night of August 2, which he did not.  Kirschner then asked if Dylan was incorporating information and knowledge learned later into his recounting the events of August 2/3, which Dylan begrudgingly acknowledged.

Matlock Moment: Kirschner’s presentation to Ward with signed copies of the waiver of his Miranda rights and the polygraph waiver.

posted by Michael and Doug

20 comments for “Pre-trial hearing Day 2: Wrap-up

  1. Carolina
    05/11/2010 at 9:19 PM

    Matlock Moment. Perfection. Here’s to many more to come.

  2. AnnaZed
    05/11/2010 at 9:20 PM

    “…After much argument, Leibovitz ruled the burglary was relevant, assuming appropriate redactions so as not to infringe on Joe Price’s constitutional rights.”

    What redactions?

    (Only if you have time and are not too exhausted to bother with this question ~ I would understand if you are!)

    • Eagle
      05/11/2010 at 9:45 PM

      Frankly, if I were in position to recommend for the Pulitzer Prize in journalism, I would
      strongly endorse the editors of this blog.
      Not even being journalists, you are blazing new territory in the coverage of news.
      And the viewer interaction: immediate, everyone is accepted. The software allows threads and
      one can catch up on all the threads in the upper left hand corner box which lists the most recent contributions.
      Perhaps you need another intern!!
      In fact,it may sound selfish but I think you should write a book about your adventure itself.
      As a matter of fact, if you could get the participants and lurkers to cooperate, would it not be interesting to include information about them in your book.
      We know where one of them can be reached-Grimm

    • MotherOfInvention
      05/11/2010 at 10:43 PM

      I think maybe it has something to do with the right to confront one’s accuser, so if Vic or Dyl says something inculpatory of Joe (“he directed me to…”), since Joe wasn’t involved in the Grand Jury proceeding, it would violate his confrontation rights. I believe I read that elsewhere on this blog.

      • AnnaZed
        05/11/2010 at 11:04 PM

        Heck with Joe 75% of the crap that comes out of his mouth is self incriminating. It’s self incriminating when he asks what time it is. He can’t seem to help it. the government probably won’t need any extra gravy on that serving of ham. Joe own words will probably do just fine.

  3. Clio
    05/11/2010 at 9:34 PM

    So, Bernie reads this blog: Priceless!

    If he does, then I’m sure that he’ll love these lyrics from the incomparable Velvet Underground:

    You hit me with a flower
    You do it every hour
    Ohh, baby you’re so vicious”

    Sigh, I bet the Price brothers have never even heard of Lou Reed –declension has hit LGBT cultures, I am afraid.

    • Hoya Loya
      05/12/2010 at 12:09 PM

      Pace Bernie, this case has received remarkably little coverage for a crime of this nature, certainly not enough to taint the jury pool. All coverage has been local. There have been no major national media stories in print or on television. The major Washington Post story was on-line only, so it had to be sought out. Coverage in City Paper etc. has been largely dry accounts of the status of the case. If the defendants are acquitted, they could move to Florida and probably find no awareness of their situation.

      The primary posts on this blog have been probative, but never accusatory. The recent trial coverage, in particular, has been admirably even-handed. Some comments may veer towards extreme, but that’s the internet in this day and age (imagine if the web had been active during O.J.!). I think most regulars here are clearly engaging in speculation and armchair detective work rather than trying to smear anyone unfairly.

      Dissenting views are welcome, but seldom raised and even then almost never coherently expressed — someone surfaces then disappears without engaging with other posters or providing a rational basis for their views. But Victor does have several defenders, Ben regularly supports Joe and a number of others found that Dylan’s statement was convincing, so taken as a whole I think we’re a pretty open-minded and fair bunch.

      In any event, I don’t think this blog has an audience beyond those with a specific interest in the case, none of whom would qualify as jurors anyway. If the fear is that jurors might go home, read this blog and be swayed, that would be against their oath. If we don’t trust them to keep their oath, then we don’t really trust the system, do we?

      • pumpkin
        05/12/2010 at 12:45 PM

        Hoya Loya,

        I’ve been lurking here for years, and over time I’ve come to respect your opinion and how you express yourself.

        I think what you’ve said here rings true overall.

        I don’t think potential jurors are likely reading here, and probably not as far as the comments. Depending on the demographics of the eventually seated jurors, I would not at all be surprised to know that someone of them ultimately find and read coverage, up to an including wmrw. The chances of that are pretty low, I agree.

        I am not acquainted with any of the defendants or their families or social circles – I have seen several commenters dismissed as such. I am a member of the DC legal community, and that’s how I first became aware of and intrigued by the case.

        The editors and many of the regulars here have indeed welcomed dissenting opinions and the fairly free exchange of ideas, but I think it’s a mistake to characterize wmrw as unbiased. There is a clear bias against the defendants – and that is fine, we are all allowed to have our opinions. It seems to me like it’s okay to float a far out theory if it supports the defendants’ guilt and no one is screaming for a backup or defense of that position, but a far out theory of another sort does seem to me to receive a different treatment.

        I haven’t chimed in here, because I don’t know what happened but I am not fully convinced that we know enough to send three people away for lengthy prison terms. I can’t offer alternative theories, really, as I don’t think I have one – and yes, that supports the prevailing feeling at wmrw that the defendants are guilty at least of the current charges. Maybe it just seems so “off” that none of the possible explanations are ringing true in my head, and so I search and read in the hopes that I’ll have the “ah ha!” moment.

        Regardless, I appreciate the efforts by editors and the regulars alike – I have appreciated the easy access to the court filings, the editors’ take, and also the discussion in the comments.

        pumpkin (yeah, I don’t know, first commenter name I thought of…)

  4. Jaeger
    05/11/2010 at 11:28 PM

    Just found this site. It is an interesting crime. I think the judge was wrong to exclude restrains, when the absence of defensive woulds or struggle require some explanation and this is a logical one. I also think Zaborsky returning early from a trip might play a role — did he walk in on Price and Ward doing something?

    • MotherOfInvention
      05/12/2010 at 1:49 AM

      This trial is for tampering with the crime scene, conspiracy and obsrtuction of justice. BDSM is ancillary to that. If there is a murder trial, then I think it will be admitted.

    • BadShoes
      05/12/2010 at 9:20 AM

      Mr. Zaborsky says that he returned from his trip circa 6:30pm, phoned Joe Price, went home, went to the health club looking for Mr. Price, then returned home again in time for dinner, and was upstairs watching TV by 10pm. Mr. Wone arrived after 10:22 pm for sure, probably around 10:30pm.

      AFAIK, the prosecution hasn’t presented any evidence that contradicts Mr. Zaborsky’s account of his movements. The police would have been able to check the phone call time and flight info, plus talk to health club people.

      Exactly what happened after 10:30pm, is, of course, the subject of the current court case….

  5. Mark
    05/11/2010 at 11:37 PM

    Anyone think that poor Robert ended up better than the rest of us? As much as I pine for his widow and his friends, perhaps he us sleeping more soundly and peacefully than the rest of us? While I admire the effort each of the editors has put forth over the past few years, perhaps it’s time to close this book? The principal suspects aren’t talking and it’s doubtful that they ever will. So what’s the point ? From what I’ve read, Robert was a very gentle and kind soul. Is it not enough the cherish and appreciate the time he gave us? As a fellow University of Va alumnus who crossed paths with Price in Charlottesville — but ironically not in the smaller circle of gay UVA alumni in Dupont Cir — it’s truly sad that another UVA student has made a mockery of out cherished Honor Code. Again, in sum, perhaps time to recognize that even our much vaulted W&M and UVA contain a few black sheep and move on?

    • John Grisham
      05/11/2010 at 11:47 PM

      You poor lost soul.

    • AnnaZed
      05/11/2010 at 11:57 PM

      Um …ok …6 days until the trial begins, time to move on … yup!

    • MotherOfInvention
      05/12/2010 at 1:57 AM

      Is it Groundhog’s Day or something?

    • Nora
      05/12/2010 at 6:49 AM

      Yeah, so…what was that phrase from The Big Chill? “Tragic existential prose.”

    • sigmund freud
      05/12/2010 at 7:49 AM

      A man was murdered and since it is increasingly doubtful anyone will truly pay for that murder, although hopefully they will pay dearly for the obstruction, you want to just move on. Well, dude, move on and don’t bother us. Ohhh, you’re poor UVA honor code, waaaaaa! booo hooo!

    • TK
      05/12/2010 at 8:45 AM

      Wow Mark that is so out there in left field. After following this case for almost four years, and things are finally accelerating towards some kind of resolution, you just want us all to drop it? I went to UVA too, and this goes way beyond the honor code. Someone was murdered.

      PS I think you meant ‘vaunted’ not ‘vaulted.’

      • AnnaZed
        05/12/2010 at 9:58 AM

        Interesting that Mark has the same spelling and syntax problems as another UVA alumnus disproportionately concerned about the school honor code that I have read. I would hardly think that poor grasp of English is endemic to the entire institution.

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