Opening Statements, and Katherine Wone Takes the Stand
So what was learned today?
- Defense Pushback on Knife. In their opening statements, all three defense counsels Bernie Grimm, David Schertler and Thomas Connolly addressed the question of the knife, with Schertler insisting – using a very large blow-up image – that the knife found on the scene was in fact the murder weapon AND the missing knife from Dylan Ward’s cutlery set “…was never even in DC. It was in Seattle Washington.”
- Fibers. Bernie Grimm referenced FBI researchers and publications claiming that “…white cotton fibers have little evidentiary value because they are so ubiquitous.”
- Awkwardness. During Kathy Wone’s time at the stand today, we heard of the somewhat awkward nature of the friendship between Kathy and the Swann Street housemates, and between Robert and housemates Victor Zaborsky and Dylan Ward.
- W-5. We now know “W-5” is Scott Hixon, a Dupont Circle interior designer and friend of Joe Price. Or perhaps more than just friends…at least so the prosecution suggested.
- Overt Acts 2 and 3: the government said that it would be dropping “Overt Acts 2 (that the defendants made up the bed) and 3 (the defendants placed the body on the bed), and modified Act 1, redacting references to manipulating the crime scene.
- Fastidious. Kirschner went to lengths, and apparently will do so even more, to paint Robert as fastidious. Why is this important? Because Robert’s clothes were found tossed about in the guest bedroom, and the towels put out for him for his shower were apparently never touched. Kirschner said, “He never showered.”
More after the jump.
Beyond these specific points, it’s clear the defense is ready to take full advantage of any and all previously admitted government and law enforcement errors, reinforcing their message that this was a flawed investigation from the beginning. Said Ward counsel Schertler, the government “…tried to create evidence to fit a preconceived theory…”
Interestingly, all three defense attorneys took pains to paint Robert and all of the Swann Street three as good friends…and that friends simply can’t murder friends. A close reading of the defendants’ interview statements, and comments today from Kathy Wone, raise some doubt about those claims.
Looking back, in his opening statement Kirschner seemed to hit his strongest stride referencing W-5 and Joe’s statement to him that he pulled the knife from Robert’s chest. This, after being interviewed for hours that he found the knife lying on Robert’s chest..an inconsistency that Kirschner hopes demonstrates the “vacuum” of truth in statements by the defendants.
While Bernie appeared a bit rattled in his presentation, Thomas Connolly was a model of brevity and simplicity. In less than 15 minutes he presented Victor Zaborsky as an honest man, “…a son and a father…” who throughout testified honestly that he simply doesn’t know what happened. “He is crying inconsolably, he is crying inconsolably…” he repeated about Victor on the 911 call, devastated by the sudden and inexplicable murder of his friend.”
At 4:00pm, Robert’s widow Kathy Wone took the stand and was sown in. Kirschner guided her through the basic biographical questions about her background and how she met her late husband.
She spoke of the times she visited the defendants’ previous home on Capitol Hill, three times, and at Swann, another three times. For ID purposes she pointed out each of the defendants for the record.
She testified that she had a “general understanding” of the Price-Zaborsky relationship, “a committed long term relationship.” Her understanding of the Price-Ward relationship? “A roommate who needed housing.. he needed a place to live.”
She said she knew of Sarah Morgan, as just the tenant, but did not know her well at all. She characterized Price and Robert as “very good friends,” and that he was friendly with both Zaborsky and Ward, “Robert was friends with his (Price’s) friends.” She recounted Robert’s 30th birthday party, hosted by the threesome, as having been Price’s idea after she consulted him about a restaurant to hold it in.
Before adjournment, Kathy Wone told Kirschner of the July 24 lunch meeting she had with Price. Robert was supposed to have joined them, but business called him away. “I felt it took a little effort to find topics of conversation, not because he was quiet, I just remembered some effort had to be made… It was not a deep conversation.”
Court resumes with Kathy again on the stand Tuesday morning at 9:45am.