The first half hour of Joe Price’s videotaped interrogation was played in court this afternoon. Seeing it is far different than reading it on the printed page.
The trial reconvenes at 9:00am tomorrow. A full recap of today will go up by 7:00pm
The afternoon session evidence kicked off David Schertler’s continued cross of MPD evidence tech Lancaster. The defense attorney made a point of showing a photo of the desk in the guestroom and a letter holder on it. Schertler seemed to suggest that some of Robert’s valuables may have been blocked from an intruder’s line of site by that holder, explaining why they were not ‘stolen.’
A couple things we learned: the MPD did use Luminol to test for blood traces in addition to Ashley’s Reagent. Those tests showed showed negative also.
We also learned that at one point while Dr. Henry Lee, on retainer to the defense team, was examining evidence in the US Attorneys office, specifically Robert’s T-shirt, shorts, the pillow case and bed sheet. Hairs fell out of the evidence bag.
The defense tried to show this as sloppy evidence storage in a way, and Lancaster said the hairs were replaced into the proper bags. Did Lancaster subsequently test those hairs? No, we were told. A point to the defense?
On redirect Kirschner asked Lancaster about those hairs. Did the defense ever ask for them to be tested? No. Would Lancaster have tested them if the defense requested? “Absolutely,” Lancaster told the prosecutor. Kirschner with the save.1:20pm Update
After the mid-morning break, Kirschner resumed his methodical questioning of Sgt. Lancaster, the MPD crime scene evidence technician.
Lancaster talked about processing the evidence, drying anything with blood on it, and the chain of custody of the items. The bloody towel was displayed again and showed very little sign of blood, only a few marks and arrows from the testing performed on it.
Ward counsel David Schertler began his cross at 12:15pm. He and Lancaster appeared to know each other well: “It’s been a while,” the defense attorney said.
Schertler wanted to know if the three weeks the MPD had the house was enough time to fully process the scene. Lancaster said yes.
Schertler spent some time looking at backyard photos from the parking area and patio, the upside down garbage can, and the tool shed with the sunglasses on top. Asked if Lancaster found any pollen on the BMW, he said no, “…not in August.” But there was dust and dirt on the car itself.
Schertler got Lancaster to admit that when he would open the back patio door, that the chime did in fact sound, indicating it was in working order.
Right before the lunch break, Schertler pointed out a photo of a curio cabinet in the 1509 living room. The door to it appeared to be open. Was it dusted, Schertler asked? “I think so… and no latents (finger prints) were found.”
We still think that Dr. and Mrs. Needham Ward are in the audience today, seated next to Victor’s Aunt Marcia and her frequent companion. Dr. Ward appeared attentive and engaged during the proceedings.
Back in at 2:00pm for the afternoon session.
11:20 am Update
MPD Sergeant Charles Patrick, a 13 year veteran of the force was first to testify this morning. According to his testimony he, too, witnessed Joe Price shoot “glares and stares” towards Dylan Ward while he observed them in the living room of 1509 Swann.
On cross, Price counsel Bernie Grimm pressed him on how and when he may have reported this “suspicious” activity up the chain, specifically to homicide detectives on the scene. Patrick said it was three days after the murder.
There seemed to be some confusion if Price was on the second or first floor when Patrick arrived. Connolly’s cross? About a minute, all focused on his client, Victor Zaborsky who was said to be crying throughout. Schertler took a handful of whacks and that was it.
Next up was MPD Evidence Tech Curtis Lancaster. AUSA Glenn Kirschner walked him through the steps of how he processes crime scenes and what he did upon arriving at 1509 Swann at about 2:00am on the morning of August 3.
He looked for signs of forced entry, saw none, then he and his partner took a series of comprehensive photographs of all rooms on all floors.
Later, we may hear testimony from MPD Homicide Detective Wagner. It seems that Defendant Ward’s father, Dr. Needham Ward is in the courtroom today, on Dylan’s 40th birthday.9:15am Update
Fifteen minutes from the gavel. On the way into the courthouse today we saw Judge Frederick Weisberg pulling into the parking garage. We can’t help but wonder how things would be different if he was still presiding over this case. Would a jury have been seated?
Zaborsky counsel Tom Connolly was in the ground floor cafeteria grabbing a coffee before things get underway. Good idea.
Trying to collar someone who can give us a heads up on today’s witnesses.
Defendants have entered courtroom and some members of the media filing in too. Connolly was seen greeting defendants’ supporters before going in, while Price counsel Bernie Grimm sat alone, a few feet away, working over a document. Next update at the morning break.
7:45am Update: The Big Plunge
We learned a lot in the last week. We expect to learn more this week – the prosecution’s bolstering of Dr Goslinoski’s testimony, and potentially the playing in court of the full Violent Crimes Branch interviews with Dylan Ward, Victor Zaborsky and Joseph Price. The prosecution also has in its bag more potential witnesses – on science, on character, and on timeline.
The defense’s task has been, and will continue to be, raising doubt with every witness, and for every claim the government brings.
That’s their job, and they have done so diligently the past week.
Of course, as Judge Leibovitz continues to remind, she is the only finder of fact, and she will ultimately make the decisions on fact.
The first week was, in some respects, predictable. Witnesses called by the prosecution – Katherine Wone, EMT responders, the MPD and Dr. Goslinoski – were easily anticipated. From here, the water gets deeper. Ahead there are unfathomable questions of forensics, of character – and murkier issues yet to be plumbed. For the prosecution, the shallow waters have been fished, now the big plunge.
This also raises a question of sequencing, and maybe this is best answered by some of the attorneys here: Does the order of witnesses generally follow a timing and strategy, or does it come down to scheduling? Will forensics ace Robert Spaulding surface when Kirschner wants to insert him into his narrative, or is it dependent upon personal calendars?
No Deal?: For the sake of argument, many commenters have questioned Victor’s possible role in the events of that night. Consistently, he’s been the one of the three housemates to engender the greatest compassion. And suspicion. To summarize a great many comments: Victor needs to turn State’s evidence as to the events of that night to save himself and tell the truth.
But there’s a potential problem. What if Victor is telling the truth? What if – as defense lawyer Thomas Connolly has repeatedly made clear – Victor is literally telling the truth: he doesn’t know what happened, or who did what to whom? What if Victor is completely in the dark as to what happened?
Importantly, he would have no evidence to turn. Someone who knows what actually happened has a story of value to sell to the prosecution. But someone who, unfortunately, doesn’t know anything – truthfully – of what happened that night has nothing to offer.