Day 6: Wrap

State of Mind

Today’s session focused mainly on the videotape playback of defendants Joe Price and Dylan Ward, but also featured new testimony from the lead MPD investigator who conducted the questioning, Detective Sergeant Daniel Wagner.

Dylan Ward Questioned by Detectives Wagner and Norris

While his tape was playing, Price, again, didn’t once look at the screen.

Ward watched intently while Victor Zaborsky kept his eyes forward and took the occasional glance at his partner’s nearly four year old interview.

While Price didn’t mind the view, apparently the defense counsel wanted a better vantage point to watch, and so Bernie Grimm, Tom Connolly and David Schertler took seats in the jury box to watch.

At 12:30pm, Grimm began his cross of Wagner questioning the Detective Sergeant on his arrival at 1509 Swann, how long before he went to the Violent Crime Branch for the interviews, and how the witnesses – now defendants – were transported.  Again, Grimm tried to establish a paper trail of MPD notes.  Wagner took none and didn’t recall if his colleagues did.

More after the jump.

Grimm wanted to know why and when the detectives started to record Price’s interview at VCB; the first portion with Detective Norris was apparently conducted off-camera. “Something changed…” said Wagner, referring to what he had learned in intervening hours.

Did Price give Norris a copy of the list of 1509 key holders?  Yes  Were any follow up calls made to the contractors on the list?  Wagner said he thought he designated someone to do that.  Would it have been important to do so Grimm asked?  Yes, said Wagner.  Grimm followed with probing cross-direct about Wagner’s attitudes toward homosexuals.  Not very good, it seems.  Grimm worked to paint Wagner as something of a latter-day homophobe – using his own comments from videotape – such that his attitudes tainted the investigation.

Joe Price and MPD Detective Daniel Wagner

Following lunch, Ward counsel Robert Spagnoletti began his cross of Wagner and zeroed in on the relationships, and the detective’s possible old school views on homosexuality.

He began questioning Wagner on the cutlery knife set found in Ward’s bedroom and how it was found.

Wagner said it was recovered after the whole house was searched, “…the entire premises, top to bottom, all four corners,” the detective said.  Were other searches done?  “Dumpsters and alleys all around…in a several block radius of the 1500 block of Swann Street,” he related.

About the two addressees on the cutlery set’s box – one with the name of Ward and another by the name of John Gizdavich – Spagnoletti asked if there was any follow up done on those two people.  No, indicated Wagner; perhaps because the case was being investigated by a grand jury at the time.

The courtroom viewing Joe Price' MPD Interview

Zaborsky counsel Tom Connolly again working a light day passed on cross.  Lieber’s redirect focused on what it was about the night that got Wagner’s ‘radar’ going: “It was obvious upon close examination of the scene…no cobwebs, pollen or dust (was disturbed)…No one came over that fence.  The decedent was stabbed three times in the chest yet no evidence in the room of blood travel…or bleeding out.”

Bottom line: the totality of evidence on the crime scene influenced Wagner’s decision to roll tape on the defendants.  In Wagner’s estimation, the witnesses were starting to look like suspects.

As for the addressees on the cutlery box and the MPD failure to follow up on them, Carson Lieber seemed to deflect the criticism away from Wagner.  She asked him, “…was the US Attorneys Office investigating the identities (of the addresses)?”  “I believe so,” said the cop.

Next up was another evidence tech from the night of the murder, Officer Robert McCollum, the partner of Curtis Lancaster who testified on Monday. McCollum marched through his procedures that night including his observations and investigations of any signs of forced entry.  He found none. He looked at the front and rear doors, the patio gate and surrounding fence.  He said he saw a layer of dust and dirt on top of the fence and that “…nothing was disturbed.”  The BMW did have a “yellow film” on the trunk but the car’s hood showed no signs of being stepped or leaned on.”  McCollum testified that no latent finger prints were found on the patio door or back gate.  Oddly enough none of the defendants’ prints showed as well.

Schertler was up first to cross and got McCollum to say that some surfaces, wood in particular, will not yield prints.  A short break followed, and then it was Grimm’s turn.  Grimm’s questioning looked at the top rails of the fence and the flower boxes just inside.  Trying to refute claims that an intruder could have disturbed garden dirt by jumping over and into the flower boxes, McCollum –while looking at a picture of the patio area – said that along the side of the property there were decorative stones in the beds, not dirt.

As for the larger corner planters, it looked inconclusive from the photos…they could’ve been full of mulch.

Connolly again sat out a cross examination and AUSA Patrick Martin’s redirect was slim.

At that point Judge Leibovitz quizzed the defense on a strategy of theirs that she has seen.  She asked them why they were asking “state of mind” questions on cross, to elicit opinions of the witnesses, then objecting to the government doing the same thing on their redirects; objections she has yet to sustain.  The judge understood that the defenses’ efforts to paint the early investigation as a “rush to judgment.”

“We have to be careful about how we ask questions,” Schertler said.

Just before the 4:30pm adjournment the government called their last witness of the day, another evidence tech, MPD Officer Kevin Jeter.  Jeter recovered the few items from the washing machine at 1509 – some table napkins, an undershirt, and a towel. He said that upon examining the second floor bathroom he saw some towels in there.  They were dry he said.  On Schertler’s cross, we found out that Jeter wasn’t on the scene until 24 hours later, in the early morning hours of August 4, allowing plenty of time for anything wet in there to dry.

That was it for the day.  The trial resumes Wednesday morning at 9:45am.

Sketches courtesy William J. Hennessy, Jr.

Note on seating arrangements — When I have been in court over the past several days, the seating arrangements of the defendants seems to have changed.  Before Joe, Victor and Dylan would sit together.  Now, two associates are sitting on each side of Joe Price, sometimes even more.  Victor and Dylan are seated together to the right of Joe and the associates. Is the defense doing this to seperate Joe from Victor and Dylan as the prosecution aims to portray him as the ring leader of the family?  Or does this allow Joe the flexibility to discuss the case more frequently with his attorneys? I don’t know, but this seating arrangements seems to be taking hold.  We’ll keep our eye on it as the trial progresses. — David


203 comments for “Day 6: Wrap

  1. sitedown
    05/25/2010 at 7:17 PM

    was joe price doing a dos attack earlier today?

  2. Tarfunk
    05/25/2010 at 7:23 PM

    Here’s a link to a great graphic the Washington Post published last summer. It’s a cut-away of 1509 Swann St. that shows the layout of the townhouse really well. (Sorry if this is old.)

    http://media3.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/graphic/2009/06/01/GR2009060101137.jpg

    • SavvyG
      05/25/2010 at 7:53 PM

      This is a really interesting graphic and I just printed it out for reference as I consider the case. The “likely path of an intruder” makes it appear highly unlikely that it was someone unfamiliar to the “family” and Mr. Wone.

      The graophic raises two questions for me: why would someone go outside to check on a spider on a light? They are basically harnless and it was outside the home. Second, where is the knife? I recall from the first days hearing about the fact that Dylan’s missing knife was outside the state. When will it be arriving for inspection?

      • BadShoes
        05/25/2010 at 9:54 PM

        According to the account of Messrs. Price and Ward, when Mr. Price returned from inspecting the creature, he neglected to lock the back door, thus allowing the intruder to walk right in.

        Joe Price, who said he inspected it up close, characterized it as a bug. Dylan Ward, who did not examine the creature, thought it was a spider.

        For the record, there are some jaw-dropping insects that turn up occasionally in the Washington area, like the 5″ wingspan giant silk moths (saturnids).

        In this case, the bug was eventually tracked down by investigators. Before they could take his statement, however, he unfortunately flew too close to a street lamp.

        • KKinCA
          05/25/2010 at 10:04 PM

          Ha-ha! Poor bug! Its statement could have explained everything that is puzzling in this case!! Yet another example of police incompetence!! (kidding of course!)

  3. Clio
    05/25/2010 at 7:28 PM

    Why did Mr. Price avert his eyes to the screening of his close-up?

    • Tarfunk
      05/25/2010 at 7:31 PM

      He wasn’t ready for his close-up, Mr. De Mille.

      • Clio
        05/25/2010 at 10:50 PM

        Yes, according to Mr. Hennessy’s exquisite depiction, his shirt IS untucked — an uncharacteristic bit of sloppiness for the fastidious Culuket, perhaps?

  4. Gama
    05/25/2010 at 8:09 PM

    Hi Craig. Thanks for all the hard work and the detailed accounts of the proceedings. Just to make sure we all understand, though, when you say Joe was seated between associates, I assume you mean associate attorneys? Thanks.

    • Themis
      05/25/2010 at 8:33 PM

      I’m not there and haven’t seen the interaction between clients and counsel. However, if I had to hazard a guess, defense counsel probably want Joe seated between associates for purposes of “client control.” That way Joe can make his points to the associates rather than distract the attorneys conducting the questioning. I don’t know how the judge views defendants who try to manage their defense counsel during trial, but jurors generally don’t view them favorably.

  5. CDinDC (Boycott BP)
    05/25/2010 at 8:22 PM

    Re the seating arrangement…….aren’t Victor and Dylan’s attorneys seated with them?

  6. Bill Orange
    05/25/2010 at 8:25 PM

    Hmmm. The seating arrangement change might not mean anything, but it’s certainly curious. Is there any way to figure out which lawyer the associates are attached to? If they’re all part of Team Price, then I was assume that either (a) they feel like they need to surround him to keep him under control, or (b) either he or they want to make sure he can consult with them in real time during the trial. On the other hand, if the associates are from Team Ward or Team Zaborsky, I’d be more inclined to believe that they’re trying to “insulate” their clients from Joe Price.

  7. tassojunior
    05/25/2010 at 8:35 PM

    Wouldn’t take a ninja exactly to get over the 6 foot wood fence with two foot high planters to step on. Twice I’ve been broken into with intruders coming over a similar rear fence stepping on things about that height. The lattice and top board makes an excellent grab hold.

    And they’re still claiming there was visable dust on top of an unpainted pressure treated wood fence. At night.

    At night.

    • Tarfunk
      05/25/2010 at 8:39 PM

      When you were broken into, did they take things or just kill someone and leave empty handed?

      • tassojunior
        05/25/2010 at 8:57 PM

        They took an amazing load of things over that fence twice and I caught them the 3rd time. A well known burglar and his friend who lived at 1400 block of V. Neighbors told me he steals everything 24/7. Confrontation was arkward and I pretended to believe he’d come into patio to tell me someone was stealing stuff as I phoned police. Few days later friends saw him selling some of my stuff at laundromat closeby and we called police and I did a “second-sighting” on him and after a lot of yelling etc we got them to arrest him. Next day he was back at laundromat selling other people’s stolen items. Got a stay-away order on him. Cop’s attitude was why do I live in such a bad neighborhood. Now people pay $1.5M.

        I backed down at confrontation because trapped intruders are dangerous. That could have led to my death.

        • Carolina
          05/25/2010 at 9:04 PM

          It’s all so personal for you, as if you were the one on trial. It’s not all about you, you know?

          • tassojunior
            05/25/2010 at 9:11 PM

            Stopping violence, crime, and drugs for the 4 blocks including 1509 has been my life for 20 years or more.

            Justice, fairness and safety is about us all.

            • Clio
              05/25/2010 at 10:05 PM

              How noble, Tasso! It is a wonder that you have avoided “the almost” Stockholm Syndrome that, to you, has plagued your lavender neighbors. You must be our own Clark Kent in DC — who knew!

              • tassojunior
                05/26/2010 at 2:55 AM

                Save your cattiness for the bathroom at Ziegfields. Jealous femqueen self-haters who spend their pretend intelligence to tear down other gays who actually have a life don’t interest me. Spend your night in this queeny jealous chatroom- I’m going back to my bed (not alone like you I’m sure) and enjoy my rather pleasant life. Sorry about yours.

                • Nora
                  05/26/2010 at 6:54 AM

                  Tasso, I think it would be in your best interests if you just lightened up & and calmed down. When you started posting I read your views w/ respect. Was grateful for some “fresh eyes.” Since then your fragile, hissy stance has threatened to reduce your opinions to a laughingstock.

                  You could be an invaluable asset to this page, so there’s no reason for you to present as a Tennessee Williams heroine crossed w/ that EPA guy from “Ghostbusters.”

                  • Carolina
                    05/26/2010 at 9:18 AM

                    “It’s true; that man has no dick.”

                    Thank you for my morning laugh, Nora.

            • Former Criminal Sex Offense Prosecutor
              05/25/2010 at 10:10 PM

              Consider adding logic & reason to your personal credo stated above.It was entirely possible for a drug addled burglar to gain entry into the Swann Street Residence,remove all the pawnable goodies your mystery intruder left behind,without stabbing anyone or making a very large amount of blood vaporize.

              No,I was not there,but court records indicate Michael Price & Phelps Collins did exactly that 3 months after the murder of Robert Wone.

              • John Grisham
                05/25/2010 at 11:47 PM

                Another possible scenario. Drugged up Michael Price and/or Phelps Collins, who know the house well, use their key to the house to go steal the stash of drugs they know to be kept in the 1509 Swann Street guest bedroom, not expecting anyone to be sleeping there. As in so many burglaries, it was ultimately about getting drugs, and went wrong.

                No, this does not explain the many needle marks, the strangely placed semen, the lack of blood, the lack of defensive wounds, etc. But it’s certainly far more conceivable than a murder by Chinese ninjas, crack head neighbors or random intruders.

                • Phil
                  05/26/2010 at 8:05 AM

                  According to a post from a couple days ago (I believe from one of the editors), the police took a scenario like this seriously.

                • Bob
                  05/26/2010 at 8:20 AM

                  In case you didn’t notice, the Chinese ninja was my scenario, and I was being sarcastic.

                • Bill Orange
                  05/26/2010 at 8:24 AM

                  This also assumes that Michael Price or Phelps Collins had the foresight to grab a knife from the kitchen on the way up the stairs.

                  This theory explains a lot of things–like the “Catch 22” e-mail. But if it’s correct, then there was an obvious omission from Price and Zaborsky’s statements to the police. They took the time to check on their stash instead of helping their recently stabbed friend. And if their stash was still there, they took the time to get rid of it.

                • Lee
                  05/26/2010 at 8:39 AM

                  And your motive and scenario may actually make more sense than most of those involving the trouple. The question then is: why would the trouple clean up afterward unless they knew it was Michael and were covering for him.

                  But I cannot imagine that anyone would risk so much for a brother who just killed ones good friend.

                  • AnnaZed
                    05/26/2010 at 10:58 AM

                    I too have warmed to the notion that Michael was there that night and that Michael was an integral part of the attack on Robert.

                    That said, I don’t think that any of these men, Dylan and Victor certainly but even Joe, would go to these lengths just for him. All roads (of thought) lead back to Joe for me.

              • Carolina
                05/26/2010 at 9:17 AM

                Maybe Phelps thought Robert was a cat. He has experience torturing felines.

        • Bill Orange
          05/25/2010 at 9:30 PM

          That sounds like it would fall in the “take things” category. And you called the police with this person standing right in front of you rather than engaging in a “confrontation”. I really am trying to understand your viewpoint here, but how exactly is that less confrontational than, say, lying in a bed in a room on a different floor with the door closed?

        • Tarfunk
          05/25/2010 at 9:39 PM

          I truly appreciate your love for your neighborhood, and I am sorry you’ve had to deal with such crap. But can you see how so many folks find it hard to believe that the events at 1509 were a burglary gone wrong? Ignoring every other piece of evidence in this case, it’s just nonsensical that someone would have broken into 1509 to commit a burglary but wound up killing someone instead. Even assuming the kitchen knife is the murder weapon, did they grab it on the way in just thinking they might need it? Surely they would have heard the door chime too and would have known that it could wake the residents? “So screw ’em all, I’m gonna stab ’em if they wake up?” And I guess they couldn’t have known that there were four guys there that night and only one of them would have caused any problem. Just illogical, and frankly, preposterous.

          • Kwibi
            05/25/2010 at 9:53 PM

            I think you make a really good point that I haven’t seen before… a burglar would have heard the door chime. Why continue on instead of turning back around and getting out of there before someone came down to investigate?

            • Lee
              05/26/2010 at 8:42 AM

              The door chime may not sound throughout the house. It might just be a signal to alert those in the master bedroom.

              • Phil
                05/26/2010 at 8:45 AM

                Joe explains how the chime works when he is being questioned the night of the murder. It’s in the transcript somewhere…of course I don’t remember what he says right now. (It rings in his bedroom AND the first floor????)

                • KKinCA
                  05/26/2010 at 10:07 AM

                  In his police interview Dylan stated that when he was in his room on the second floor he heard the door chime when Robert arrived, I think he heard it at least a couple of times. When Joe didn’t go downstairs to let Robert in, Dylan did so.

                  • BadShoes
                    05/26/2010 at 11:56 AM

                    What Mr. Ward heard when Mr. Wone arrived circa 10:30pm was the front doorbell, which probably is separate and independent from the alarm chime.

                    • KKinCA
                      05/26/2010 at 11:57 AM

                      Yes, you are right. I stand corrected. Thanks.

          • kiki
            05/26/2010 at 8:58 AM

            Tarfunk,

            You make some excellent observations which should be coupled with the condition in which Robert was found. Why would a burglar surprised by someone in the house sexually assault that person and then kill him?

            Can a stronger link be made to trouple as the killers via the sexual assault?

      • Elizabeth
        05/25/2010 at 9:37 PM

        nicely played

    • Greg
      05/25/2010 at 8:52 PM

      As far as I know, beyond the wooden fence was the driveway and the cars, and then a tall metal fence. This is the fence that would be the most difficult to scale. The wooden fence is not all the separates the house from the alley. Am I right?

      • tassojunior
        05/25/2010 at 9:05 PM

        That’s the debate. It looks new and everyone here yelled at me that it wasn’t there then. It looks new and I don’t remember it being there (could be wrong but don’t think so).
        The new one is about 9′ high roll up with ladder-rung bars. There’s a carriage house on one side of it but just another fence on the other.

      • KKinCA
        05/25/2010 at 9:10 PM

        Greg – If you want to see Tasso’s understanding of the construction, materials and height of the back fence and gate, as well as his creative theories regarding how an intruder would deal with the fence/gate, please see the multiple reader comments in the post That Was The Wone Day on 5/23/10. I don’t think that there is any regular reader who wants to go through that conversation again.

        • cinnamon
          05/25/2010 at 9:22 PM

          amen

      • AnnaZed
        05/25/2010 at 10:11 PM

        Not sure how “yelling” is interpreted on a blog (no one here engages in that crazy all caps stuff that I’ve noticed) but the fact is that the second fence with the roll-top gate further back and creating an enclosure for the car and trash cans was not there the night Robert was attacked, and tasso knows it.

        • Lee
          05/26/2010 at 8:48 AM

          Wow, AnnaZed, you raise a perspective that’s entirely new to me. I thought tasso was just trying to put forth his own theories (however, FITH), but I hadn’t considered that he was making up shit.

          A different opinion is one thing but fabrication is quite another.

          • Phil
            05/26/2010 at 9:22 AM

            I haven’t seen any evidence that he is making stuff up.

            Ignoring evidence, yes. But not making stuff up.

            (And to his credit–he certainly seems to be right that an intruder could have looked through the slats in the gate, and seen the back door (I suppose it could have been ajar???, but why it would be, I have no idea). So he keeps pressing the intruder theory. But here’s two inconvenient facts, the intruder would had to have 1) closed (nearly) the kitchen door BEHIND HIM as he left AND chose NOT to go through the gate when leaving, rather CLIMB the fence AGAIN (without leaving evidence), even though this was all happening in split seconds (see Joe’s transcript: Joe and Victor went downstairs and found Robert within seconds of hearing the grunting nose(or less than a minute–I forget Joe’s exact description–but it is something to the effect that they investigated the noise right away). So we are back to a ninja intruder.

            Which does raise a question: if you are creating the myth of an intruder, why not open the kitchen door and the gate? (They forgot??? They thought whoever was leaving with the cleaning supplies would do it?? Completely unclear.)

            • Phil
              05/26/2010 at 9:33 AM

              Oh, I forgot: rather than climbing the fence for a second time, the intruder also could have gone through the gate and closed the gate behind him. In the transcript, Joe is mystified why any intruder would have done this.

              • AnnaZed
                05/26/2010 at 11:25 AM

                Not without a key they couldn’t. That gate had a “dead bolt” lock that required a key from either side to open it. This is I think the third (maybe only second) time that I am posting this fact in the last 48 hours.

                As to Tasso’s facts it makes no difference apparently whether any poster acknowledges of agrees with any given fact; for example, the obviousness of the gaps between the slats on the gate being apparent in the picture that I linked for him was acknowledged by others and even discussed. He then just goes on to post (over, ad over and over again) the same stuff and the same suppositions and accusing everyone of ignoring facts and being part of an anti-gay conspiracy (or for our gay posters being a self-hating tribe of jealous harpies ~ though jealous of what I can’t imagine). I have concluded that his real purpose here is obfuscation.

                • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
                  05/26/2010 at 11:32 AM

                  Agree AnnaZ. His posts regarding crime in Dupont Circle are also great exaggerated. Yes, there is plenty of street crime, but murder? No. In PSA 208 (police service area), which covers the majority of Dupont Circle, there have 0 murders in two years. Tasso seems to want people to beleive there is a murderous crime spree going on. Not so. Would I walk from 14th street to Connecticut Avenue down R street at midnight alone? Hell no. But if my doors and windows are locked and my security system is on, I feel safe.

                  I even provided the link to Metropolitan Police Department interactive crime map, which is pretty much a live program that shows all crime occurrences in Washington DC.

                  He ignored it because it did not suit his comments.

                • Phil
                  05/26/2010 at 11:54 AM

                  I hadn’t realized the back gate had a deadlock that required a key from either side…do you remember where you got that info from?

                  Thanks.

                  • AnnaZed
                    05/26/2010 at 12:01 PM

                    Sorry Phil, I don’t recall, though it did stick in my mind.

                    Also, I didn’t mean to be snippy to you (snippy to some others maybe) and I realize that the above post comes off that way, apologies.

                    • Phil
                      05/26/2010 at 12:06 PM

                      Ok.
                      Thanks.

                      No offense taken.

    • Cecily
      05/25/2010 at 9:22 PM

      Wouldn’t the police have bright lights for seeing and testing? You can see dust under a light at night. I can at least, I can see pollen on my car if I shine a light on it.

      • tassojunior
        05/25/2010 at 9:24 PM

        No bright lights were used, maybe flashlights. Pollen on a car I believe. Visable dust on top an unpainted wood fence I do not.

        • cinnamon
          05/25/2010 at 9:28 PM

          Were you there?

          • tassojunior
            05/25/2010 at 9:30 PM

            I wasn’t too far away for damn sure. But no neighbors said anything about bright search lights and I think the police said it was flashlight.

            • Bill Orange
              05/25/2010 at 9:48 PM

              As you’ve pointed out, the police were in the house for weeks. I think it would have been wise for the defense to have asked them if they rechecked the fence in the light a day. But they didn’t. Just like they didn’t ask for the hair to be analyzed. You can argue that it’s not the defense’s job to do the crime scene investigation, and you’d be right, but from a legal strategy standpoint, there’s only reason I can think of that a defense team wouldn’t ask for evidence to be analyzed that could potentially exonerate their clients–they know that they’re guilty.

              • plumskiter
                05/26/2010 at 9:41 AM

                bill o. reminds me of a true story from my prosecutorial past that illustrates the dangers of complaining about what the police did not do. in one of my federal jury trials in baltimore, 4 men were charged with conspiracy to import cocaine from colombia. they had a female associate travel from miami to baltimore by plane with seven “footballs” of coke in her suitcase; they flew in to bwi on an earlier flight and were in the luggage claim area to oversee the female as she retrieved the suitcase and delivered it outside to a “buyer” (unbeknownst to them an undercover DEA agent). (incidentally, much of the evidence against them was the agents’ observations of their non-verbal conduct and non-verbal communications with one another in the baggage area – a la the price glares at dylan). all were arrested at the airport.

                anyway, the “footballs” [duct tape wrapped packages] were dusted for prints and compared with the defendants’ fingerprints with no matches, although the report said there were unknown palm prints on the footballs. during cross of an agent, one defense counsel started making a big deal about how we hadn’t taken palm prints from the defendants to compare with the unknown palm prints on the footballs. the agent said the defendants hadn’t asked for that, but that we would do so if they wanted us to. at that point 3 of the 4 defense counsel volunteered their clients’ palm prints; the 4th felt like he had to agree as well in that all this was taking place in front of the jury. the palm print comparisons were done overnight (the fbi fingerprint operation was still in d.c. then and proximity helped), and guess what? no palm prints from defendants 1-3, but plain as day, number 4’s were all over these footballs from colombia that he was claiming no connection to. this is why defense counsel have to be careful about which omissions by the police they choose to complain about.

            • Carolina
              05/25/2010 at 9:55 PM

              But you know, even though you weren’t there. You’re sure you’d have heard about it. You know everything and everyone, but not the Trouple.

              Honestly, you’re either completely full of hot air, like a kid who is always telling his friends he’s met all their favorite sports heroes, or you’re a shill for the defense, or you have some real issues with projection.

              • tassojunior
                05/25/2010 at 11:29 PM

                If there were search lights out that night we’d know period. I’m pretty sure the testimony was even that it was flashlights. I’m no “shill” for anyone. Look in a mirror and you may see one.

            • AnnaZed
              05/25/2010 at 10:12 PM

              Ok, I call bullshit on this.

              • KKinCA
                05/25/2010 at 11:12 PM

                I second that!

        • Alice
          05/25/2010 at 9:44 PM

          I personally have seen dust or very fine dirt on top of an unpainted wood fence. My experience has only been in the day time, so I cannot speak to visibility at night.

          • Carolina
            05/25/2010 at 9:53 PM

            I am looking out my window to see dust on my graphite colored car even as we speak. The light is provided by sodium lights in the backyard of the home two down from me.

            • tassojunior
              05/25/2010 at 9:59 PM

              Dust yes. Layer of yellow pollen in August as the police say, no.

              • Carolina
                05/26/2010 at 9:22 AM

                Wood is a catch all. It is not smooth, and its textures grab and hold things like pollen and dust long after you would think it should be washed away. You seem very sure that none existed. Did you climb up there and look?

                • tassojunior
                  05/26/2010 at 9:54 AM

                  The yellow layer of pollen is claimed to be on the trunk of the car.

  8. Elizabeth
    05/25/2010 at 9:13 PM

    This is off topic, so my apologies, but it has been a question for me. Where did all the evidence that was supposedly tampered with go? Play mats and sheets and who knows what else? The MPD says they searched the alleys and dumpsters around the house – where else could it be?

    • Bill Orange
      05/25/2010 at 9:26 PM

      One of the three could have put it in a garbage bag, driven five minutes away, and tossed it in a dumpster.

      Or someone else could have been there and left with it.

      Lots of possibilities.

      • Elizabeth
        05/25/2010 at 9:30 PM

        I guess, but we’ve gotten into a lot of details here – were the water glasses Robert, et al, drank from drying on the counter – it seems like someone would have discussed whether one of the housemates drove away? Were the cars searched?

        • Bill Orange
          05/25/2010 at 9:38 PM

          Good question about the cars–I don’t know the answer. I’m assuming they had at least one car between them, but people who live in the city often don’t drive, so it’s possible they didn’t even have a car.

          As for the plausibility of one of them driving off and coming back, I can only say that I have yet to hear a very plausible explanation of what happened that night. When the most plausible working theory is that someone was drugging, raped, and murdered by a friend of 15 years, you’re in bizarre territory.

          • Kate
            05/26/2010 at 7:33 AM

            Bill and Elizabeth – Last evening I was reading through the search warrant affidavits (available for review in the Legal Documents section of this site), in an effort to gain a keener understanding of the MPD’s crime scene investigation. A search warrant was issued for a BMW, which I believe was owned by Mr. Price.

            Funny thing struck me: when Mr. Price was describing the type of neighborhood he lived in during his initial interviews, he said the detectives need only look in the alley to see “Mercedes, Mercedes, Mercedes.”

            Means nothing, no doubt, but struck me as, well, funny.

            Hope that helps,
            Kate

            • Carolina
              05/26/2010 at 9:24 AM

              It struck a lot of people, Kate. So much so that its become something of a punchline in a very sad joke.

            • sda
              05/26/2010 at 10:09 AM

              It also struck me as funny that a BMW owner would make references to Mercedes, Mercedes, Mercedes. Not significant I’m sure just funny.

        • KKinCA
          05/25/2010 at 9:39 PM

          I think it was yesterday that during one of the cross exams by defense counsel (Grimm I think) of one of the police officers on the scene, many pictures of the house were introduced. One of them was of the kitchen. According to one commenter on this site who was in the courtroom, there were no glasses on the counter or in the sink. I am not sure of whether a car search was done. In fact I don’t even know if the defendants owned car(s).

          • Elizabeth
            05/25/2010 at 9:45 PM

            Yes, I was using the glasses on the counter as an example of the level of detail we have seen discussed. But I wonder where all this physical evidence that had to have existed went? But you are certainly right, Bill, we are in bizarre territory.

            • KKinCA
              05/25/2010 at 9:56 PM

              Assuming that the defendants are telling the truth about drinking water with Robert when he first arrived, someone may have washed the glass(es) by hand, dried it/them and put it/them away. I have no idea what the search protocol is, or whether evidence gathering would include an exhaustive search of the kitchen cabinets and/or dishwasher.

              I second Bill’s point about bizarre territory.

            • Bill Orange
              05/25/2010 at 10:03 PM

              My hunch is that there was someone else there that night, but there’s really no evidence to support that. I lean toward thinking Michael Price was there, because otherwise I can’t understand why Joe wouldn’t have mentioned the fact that he had keys to the house. (Frankly, I still can’t understand why he had keys to the house in the first place.) Michael would have been the easiest person in the world to blame this on. All they would’ve had to do is say that the only people who had keys to the house were a few contractors and Joe’s brother. The cops would’ve had a field day when they ran his name through the computer.

              • Elizabeth
                05/25/2010 at 10:22 PM

                The fact that his brother had keys to his house does not seem at all strange to me. My sisters have keys to my house to check on things, take in the mail when I am away, or just to crash when they need a place in the city. Family members having keys? Not strange at all to me.

                • AnnaZed
                  05/25/2010 at 10:28 PM

                  Elizabeth, I don’t know you, but something about the way you express this leads me to believe that your sisters and family members are not petty criminals and drug addicts, frequently arrested or continuously in need of your services as a lawyer to represent them in court for yet another drug or petty larceny bust like Joe’s brother is.

                • Bill Orange
                  05/25/2010 at 10:36 PM

                  Let me expand on that: Joe’s brother was a pretty shady drug user at the time, and he stole several thousand dollars from their house just a few months later. Given his history, I wouldn’t have given him keys. And if I were one of the other occupants of the house, I would have been furious to find out that he had them.

                  • Elizabeth
                    05/25/2010 at 10:46 PM

                    Both interesting points. You are right: no drug use, theft or HIV positive status. Just some boring folks in Denver!

                    • SheKnowsSomething
                      05/26/2010 at 12:10 AM

                      What does Michael’s HIV status have to do with anything?

              • DonnaH
                05/25/2010 at 10:48 PM

                Yes, I also think Michael Price might have been there, for the reason you stated. It would also fit, I think, with Joe’s choosing to make statements about his brother suggesting some distance between them–e.g. how his brother used to beat him up all the time when they were young–so that the police would not think of Michael being involved. It might also be why Michael, in his addled thinking, imagined he could get away with robbing his brother’s house, even if found out–he had too much on his brother. And indeed, Joe dropped the charges.

                • Bill Orange
                  05/25/2010 at 10:53 PM

                  I still don’t understand the delay in reporting it. Unless they knew it was Michael who cleaned them out, why did they wait?

                  • Carolina
                    05/26/2010 at 9:26 AM

                    Because they DID believe it was Michael.

          • Alice
            05/25/2010 at 9:49 PM

            At least one owns a car b/c they talk about the intruder using it to scale the wall. I want to say it’s a BMW, but I could be wrong.

            • Elizabeth
              05/25/2010 at 9:52 PM

              Yup, you are right. I would be interested to know what some sort of search of the trunk of that car would reveal.

          • Carolina
            05/25/2010 at 9:51 PM

            Yes, Price owned a car. Yes, it was checked. No, none of the three probably drove anywhere. Yes, a lot of people think someone was called, or was already there, to take it away.

            The glasses were tested. No residue.

            • Elizabeth
              05/25/2010 at 9:54 PM

              Okay, thanks. So when you say “a lot people” who is that and who would be the likely person called to “take it away”?

              • Bill Orange
                05/25/2010 at 10:38 PM

                “A lot of people” means several posters on the site. Michael Price is the person who is most often suggested. He was taking a phlebotomy class at the time (Yes, really–you just can’t make this shit up.), and he missed class that night.

          • tassojunior
            05/25/2010 at 9:54 PM

            Above it mentions Det. said there was a yellow layer of pollen on trunk of their car, undisturbed by footprints.

            But it was August and not many trees around.

    • Jo
      05/26/2010 at 1:55 AM

      If Robert was stabbed in the bathtub, there probably wouldn’t be too much “evidence” to hide. There might not have been a play mat. As far as sheets, towels, and or clothing, I believe they got washed and were being dried before 911 was called. The evidence tech Lancaster testified that the sheet was “damp to nearly dry” when it was bagged. So the sheet must be damper when Robert’s body was found lying on top. Probably didn’t have enough time to wait for it to dry b/c of the scream.

      It’s interesting that another evidence tech found an undershirt in the washing machine among a towel and napkins the following day. Joe was only wearing a pair of white briefs when the paramedics arrived. I wonder if the police determined whose undershirt it was in the washing machine. I speculate that due to the shortage of time, only the sheet was tossed into the dryer and before it got fully dried, it was taken out to remake the bed.

      Does anyone know when the crime scene was secured? The search warrant was obtained the day after the murder. I wonder if the three defendants and or anyone else had access to the house unsupervised before police got the search warrant.

      • Jo
        05/26/2010 at 3:57 AM

        I just noticed that the washer and dryer were located in the bathroom on the same floor as the guest room, after seeing the graphic layout of the townhouse posted in another comment above. How convenient was that (for the cleanup, I mean)!
        The more I think about it, the more I believe that a lot of evidence tampering happened in that bathroom.

        Who would go to sleep on a damp sheet?

        Did investigators test the items left in the washer or lint collected in the dryer for any evidence of blood, since the cadaver dog alerted to the scent of blood in the lint trap? If bloody linens and clothing were washed in the washer, would there be enough DNA left for testing? Would Luminol work? Most likely the blood did not dry out on the fabric, making it much easier to get washed off. Any forensic experts out there?

        • Passerby
          05/26/2010 at 7:04 AM

          I might be mistaken, but I thought I remember reading early in the investigation that yes, lint traps etc. were tested and examined (e.g., for blood), as where the water hoses/drains around the washing machine, in the bathrooms, outside. Not much appears to have been made of those examinations, though (assuming they were actually conducted). Can anyone confirm?

        • Kate
          05/26/2010 at 7:43 AM

          Hi Jo – I believe Curtis Lancaster, the Crime Scene Lab lead investigator was referring to the blood spots on the sheets/towels, etc. and not the sheets themselves.

          I may be incorrect, but that is my understanding.

          Many thanks for your comments,
          Kate

          • Jo
            05/26/2010 at 1:31 PM

            Thanks for clarifying. I might have misinterpreted what I was reading. It would have raised all sorts of questions if the sheets on the bed were damp.

            Still wondering whose undershirt it was in the washer and whether it or the towel in the washer was tested for evidence. Given how neat these guys were, it’s hard to believe they would leave laundry in the washer unless they ran out of time to dry them.

      • Carolina
        05/26/2010 at 9:33 AM

        I think the play mat theory is bolstered by the fact that none appears on the inventory. It’s hard to fathom anyone involved in the types of D/s-S&M behaviors evidenced at Swann St would not have one. Just read Joe P’s alt.com profile. You don’t have to get farther than “watersports” to realize you can’t do that in the bedroom without having a house that stinks of urine if you don’t use one. Of course, you can always limit play to a more easily cleaned area, like the bathtub…

        • Jo
          05/26/2010 at 1:35 PM

          I see. I’m learning more than I need to know about S&M activities. If a play mat was used and was not found, along with the absence of photography equipment, drugs, needles, etc., then the involvement of a fourth party is even more plausible.

  9. tassojunior
    05/25/2010 at 10:03 PM

    “Grimm followed with probing cross-direct about Wagner’s attitudes toward homosexuals. Not very good, it seems.”

    • Elizabeth
      05/25/2010 at 10:05 PM

      I agree with an earlier post that the interrogation would be designed to elicit a response. That includes offensive remarks.

      • Bill Orange
        05/25/2010 at 10:13 PM

        Agreed. It’s his job to throw people of balance and to get them to say things that they don’t want to say. He’s trying to catch the bad guys, not comfort the good guys. Unfortunately, that means that a lot of innocent people are going to have their feelings hurt.

      • tassojunior
        05/25/2010 at 10:18 PM

        That’s the excuse about the interrogation. This was questioning about the officer’s own opinion of gays.

        • Bill Orange
          05/25/2010 at 10:42 PM

          For the sake of argument, let’s assume that he’s ferociously bigoted against gays. What part of his testimony do you think this discredits?

          • tassojunior
            05/25/2010 at 11:32 PM

            The initial rapid assumption of who did what.

            • Carolina
              05/26/2010 at 9:36 AM

              It had nothing to do with them being gay. It had to do with a dead body, no blood, and nothing stolen, along with a delay in calling 911. There is no boogieman here, tasso.

  10. Danali
    05/25/2010 at 10:10 PM

    I am sorry to be ignorant on this basic topic but is there a published log of calls made by defendants that night- via cell or home-phone? Or emails / IMs sent?

    • Bill Orange
      05/25/2010 at 10:16 PM

      I’m fairly sure the prosecution has a log, but I don’t think it’s been published.

    • tassojunior
      05/25/2010 at 10:50 PM

      They have the logs from the cellphone company but lost the cellphone so there’s no record of text messages.

      • Carolina
        05/26/2010 at 9:37 AM

        They did not lose the cell. It simply was no imaged.

        • Alice
          05/26/2010 at 9:54 AM

          Thank you.

        • whodoneit
          05/26/2010 at 12:03 PM

          That was Robert’s blackberry, not any of the defendants. Victor didn’t have a cell phone, or at least didn’t bring it with him to the Anacostial facility where he was questioned. (I think that was Victor, but it could have been Dylan.)

  11. curiousdc
    05/25/2010 at 10:13 PM

    These guys are guilty. Plain and simple. The parlor games are interesting but as an avid reader of this site for months, it is clear to me that these ghouls have somehow managed to execute a “perfect” murder. It’s astonishing to me that there’s any doubt.

    There is simply no way that a random killer could have scaled their security fence and completed the murder in such a short time frame.

    I went out with Joe Price a few times at UVa in 1994. He was a strange guy with sexual hangups that he attributed to his then (and still) HIV-positive brother not to mention his military family. Needless to say, I wasn’t surprised to hear about his BDSM lifestyle.

    Kathy, I truly hope you find justice and see that these men are held to account for their actions.

    • Bill Orange
      05/25/2010 at 10:32 PM

      Hmmm. You’re going to get bombarded with questions, but I think I’ll leave that for others.

      I don’t think you can call it a “perfect” murder when you get indicted for obstruction of justice. I think that there’s a high chance that they’ll be convicted here, and an even higher chance that Kathy Wone will win her lawsuit against them.

      Military families are a dime a dozen, and I really don’t see what kind of sexual hangups you can attribute to that kind of upbringing. A younger brother who is both gay and HIV+, on the other hand, is a different matter. I can see how that would really affect someone’s attitudes about sex, especially if they’re just starting to come out.

      I knew Joe Price in the early 90s at W&M, and I was surprised about the BDSM. I was especially surprised to learn that he was the submissive. But I’ve talked to other people from back then who knew him better than I did, and they weren’t surprised at all.

      • curiousdc
        05/25/2010 at 10:36 PM

        Hi Bill Orange: I wish that I could be that confident that they’ll be indicted but I’m not confident.

        As for the sexual issues, I think that it’s the transition from UVa to BDSM DC that has me puzzled.

        • John Grisham
          05/26/2010 at 12:04 AM

          Joe’s transfer from UVa to BDSM DC wasn’t to get his Masters Degree.

          • Carolina
            05/26/2010 at 9:39 AM

            Good one.

      • DonnaH
        05/25/2010 at 11:05 PM

        When Joe referenced his brother in regard to his sexual hangups, he may have been referring to the fact that (per his police interview) his brother used to beat him up regularly when he was young. Whether or not there were sexual overtones is anyone’s guess, but he may have attributed his interest in BDSM to that. Perhaps curiousdc can clarify–?

        • curiousdc
          05/26/2010 at 7:15 AM

          Hi DonnaH: Unfortunately there’s not much else that I can add as I was only told a few things about the brother. I had no idea that he was beaten by the brother when younger. Very sad.

        • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
          05/26/2010 at 8:08 AM

          Psychosexual development is based on myriad things. And not necessarily negative events. For example, I had an acquaintance years ago who was a BDSM submissive. This person was adopted into a family with other children. The parents would routinely physically discipline the other children with spankings, but would treat the adoptee with kid gloves even when the adoptee misbehaved on purpose (to gain their attention). As the adoptee grew up, the adoptee eventually equated discipline with love, when it was actually the opposite the parents were trying to convey. The adoptee began to seek out corporal punishment and this escalated into a lifestyle of BDSM.

        • Carolina
          05/26/2010 at 9:40 AM

          I still have to wonder *why* Joe brought all of this up.

    • Clio
      05/25/2010 at 10:38 PM

      Yes, Curious, the origins of this mess may stem from the Bourne (Mass.) identities of young Joe and Michael within their “military family.” And, despite Jaffe’s most recent piece, we still do not know the necessary parameters and nuances of the making of the Price brothers from their births in east Texas to Joe’s admission to William and Mary.

      • curiousdc
        05/25/2010 at 10:44 PM

        Does anyone out there know if any members of Price’s family have been at court? I can’t imagine how the parental units could even begin to process this situation.

        • Bill Orange
          05/25/2010 at 10:59 PM

          I think Ward’s parents have been there, as has some of Zaborsky’s family. I don’t know if anyone from Joe Price’s family has been there.

  12. CDinDC (Boycott BP)
    05/25/2010 at 10:17 PM

    Just saw a trial update on the news. In it, they highlighted a portion of Dylan’s statement in which he said that he didn’t know why the intruder would have bypassed his room. Then he said his “light was on.”

    Didn’t Dylan say he went to bed at 11pm, took his pill, read for a few minutes and then fell asleep? Wouldn’t all that have well before 11:30pm? Don’t the defendants claim that the intruder stabbed Robert right before they called 911?

    Does he sleep with his light on? How could the light have been on if he was asleep?

    • whodoneit
      05/25/2010 at 10:20 PM

      If he fell asleep reading?

    • AnnaZed
      05/25/2010 at 10:21 PM

      Maybe he slept with his light on, knowing what he knew about Joe Price.

    • Clio
      05/25/2010 at 10:26 PM

      Well, he may have dozed off while reading his article on Shakespeare’s death bed. Reading required light, which he unintentionally left on. What a dedicated scholar that he must have been that evening!

    • Alice
      05/25/2010 at 10:26 PM

      Lunesta works very quickly, it is entirely possible (if he took it that night) he fell asleep before he turned the light out. I took it briefly and was always finding that I feel asleep while reading.

      • Bill
        05/25/2010 at 11:52 PM

        Sorry, but Lunesta (which I take) purposely works slowly and naturally. It is recommended to take one hour before sleep.

        • Alice
          05/26/2010 at 7:48 AM

          Not according to my experiences and the Lunesta website.

    • David R
      05/25/2010 at 10:29 PM

      He took a sleeping pill. I have taken them before and fallen asleep with the light on while reading too.

    • Kathleen
      05/26/2010 at 12:03 AM

      He was asked by dets why an intruder might bypass his room at the top of the stairs and he responded that his room was visible from the alley and that his light would have been seen and that might have made an intruder avoid a room where a light had been on recently. He didn’t change his story. It was unclear to me if his light was still on after he fell asleep.

      • mia
        05/26/2010 at 1:59 AM

        So the intruder first rang the door chime when he broke into the house, and then when he climbed to the 2nd floor, he saw the light from Ward’s bedroom, but still decided to get in the guest room next to it and stabbed Wone three times anyway? So now we all knew Ward took sleep pill that night, but apparently the intruder wouldn’t know it. How could he being so sure that he wont wake the other occupant up?and ward’s bedroom just next to the stairs. was’t it be more natural that the intruder would take the knife with him just in case?

        • AnnaZed
          05/26/2010 at 2:03 AM

          The short answer to your question would “yes.”

          The whole concocted a elf came and killed my friend story makes no sense no matter how you look at it.

        • whodoneit
          05/26/2010 at 9:52 AM

          I haven’t gone back to reread Dylan’s interview, but The Post article today reported that Dylan said he turned his light off when he went to sleep.

        • plumskiter
          05/26/2010 at 9:53 AM

          or the intruder checked the house from the outside, saw that a bedroom light was on, and entered the house anyway. r-i-g-h-t!

        • BadShoes
          05/26/2010 at 12:23 PM

          Here is what Mr. Ward said according to the interview transcript (p. 26).

          A: “All I know is that I was reading, so my light faces the alleyway, and, you know, I turned that off around 11. So, I don’t know, maybe somebody knew people were in there.”

          The detective asks why an intruder would enter if he knew people were home, and Mr. Ward agrees that it is very strange.

          So, Mr. Ward’s account is that he turned his light out at 11 pm. Mr. Ward gave multiple similar accounts of what he did after he left Mr. Wone (and Mr. Price?) circa 10:45pm. He read for 5 minutes, took a sleeping pill, checked his blackberry (which showed 11pm), turned out the lights, and went to bed, though the precise order of these events isn’t completely clear.

          • mia
            05/26/2010 at 12:51 PM

            Then it will back to the old question: why the alleged intruder passed his room at the first place?

  13. AnnaZed
    05/25/2010 at 10:20 PM

    That’s interesting curiousdc. Just a question; I have never heard anyone referred to as being “then (and still) HIV-positive” before. Are there some people who somehow become no longer HIV positive? My brother died in the 80’s from AIDS so maybe I’m a bit too sensitive about these things or maybe there are things I don’t know (you’d think I’d have noticed if a cure had been announced), but I don’t understand what you are saying there.

    • David R
      05/25/2010 at 10:30 PM

      Only one that I have heard about and he is in Europe somewhere.

      • AnnaZed
        05/25/2010 at 10:32 PM

        So that would make Michael one the millions who is “still” HIV-positive, seems a curious point to make.

    • curiousdc
      05/25/2010 at 10:33 PM

      Hi AnnaZed: I think what I was trying to convey is that Joe seemed very wary of sex at that time because of his poz brother—not hard to understand at a time when it took a few weeks for HIV test results. That’s all.

      I should add that I wasn’t the only guy he was with that noticed this.

    • Penelope
      05/26/2010 at 12:21 AM

      I think he’s saying that Michael Price’s HIV has not yet progressed to full-blown AIDS.

    • plumskiter
      05/26/2010 at 9:55 AM

      az – i think curiousdc was just using language to be clear that at the time he knew joe, michael was already HIV-positive.

  14. AnnaZed
    05/25/2010 at 10:23 PM

    “…McCollum testified that no latent finger prints were found on the patio door or back gate. Oddly enough none of the defendants’ prints showed as well.”

    That’s an interesting detail, these are some tidy guys I’m thinking.

  15. whodoneit
    05/25/2010 at 10:34 PM

    Question for the criminal lawyers – if a conspirator joins a conspiracy after the co-conspirators have committed some acts in furtherance of the conspiracy, is the new conspirator criminally liable for the acts taken prior to the new conspirator’s joining the conspiracy or only those acts taken after ?

    • Elizabeth
      05/25/2010 at 10:42 PM

      excellent point…very interesting

    • tassojunior
      05/25/2010 at 10:54 PM

      all acts

      • Carolina
        05/26/2010 at 9:45 AM

        So you’re an attorney, too?

  16. Danali
    05/25/2010 at 10:44 PM

    Re: AnnaZed / fingerprints

    I agree- very tidy. They grilled that very hot night (and other nights prior) on the patio- yet left no prints on their own patio door? I can’t keep prints off my own- especially in summer! I’d love to know their secret…

    • Bill Orange
      05/25/2010 at 10:49 PM

      I’d argue that this more likely reflects the quality of the crime scene investigation rather than the cleanliness of the surfaces.

      • AnnaZed
        05/25/2010 at 10:53 PM

        Oh come on, that’s a stretch. My child was taught how to dust for fingerprints in high school science class.

        • Bill Orange
          05/25/2010 at 11:02 PM

          It’s easier on some surfaces than it is on others. My apartment was burglarized back in the 90s, and I could see greasy fingerprints on the walls, but the police weren’t able to “lift” any of them with tape. I watched them trash several beautiful fingerprints in the process.

    • AnnaZed
      05/25/2010 at 10:49 PM

      No prints of their or anyone else’s on the doorknobs, on the latch or on the gate handle? ~ very interesting.

      • John Grisham
        05/26/2010 at 12:10 AM

        Bet there were also a few gloves missing from Dylan’s play chest.

      • Bea
        05/26/2010 at 2:00 AM

        Very telling that not even the defendants’ prints were on the back door and gate. I’m sure the apologists will say that the intruder wiped everything down (even though he was wearing gloves).

  17. Bill Orange
    05/25/2010 at 10:46 PM

    Another question for the lawyers: Does DC have any sort of felony murder rule?

    • whodoneit
      05/25/2010 at 10:53 PM

      I am sure it does, but doesn’t really apply here. Felony murder means someone who commits a felony is liable for any murders that occur in furtherance of a felony, eg the getaway driver is liable for any murders committed by the bank robbers he is driving away from the scene. Here the charged felonies occur after the murder has taken place. Prior to the obstruction, the felony was the murder itself. Unless, you were thinking of the intruder’s accomplices . . .

      • AnnaZed
        05/25/2010 at 10:59 PM

        Yes, instead of an elf, if you had elves they would all be liable.

      • Bill Orange
        05/25/2010 at 11:05 PM

        I was thinking along the lines of the obstruction. But there’s also the possibilities of restraint (either chemical or physical) or sexual assault. My eyebrows are still up from learning that the FBI handed over a DNA report earlier this month, and the defense was yammering on about cross-contamination yesterday. I keep wondering if another shoe is about to drop.

      • plumskiter
        05/26/2010 at 9:59 AM

        actually, on the speculative side, i can imagine an application of the felony-murder rule to this matter. if someone sedated Robert to rape him and the sedation caused Robert’s death, the felony-murder rule would apply. In the course of committing felonies (assault [with the sedation] and rape) a murder was committed.

  18. tassojunior
    05/25/2010 at 11:14 PM

    The legal issue I’m concerned with is double-jeopardy. If these three committed the murder that will eventually come out and there’s no statute of limits on murder. (If it was another person that may never come out now thanks to the crack Chandra Levy homocide squad.)

    Will the finding on this case either way preclude as double jeopardy future prosecution for murder of the defendants since it is the same event? I’m not a criminal lawyer but I would think so.

    • srb
      05/25/2010 at 11:22 PM

      Double jeopardy only bars prosecution on the same charge or a lesser-included charge, i.e., a charge with practically the same elements. An example would be that an acquittal of a first-degree murder charge would bar prosecution on a charge of second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter. It would not apply to obstruction and murder because the elements of the two crimes are very different.

      • tassojunior
        05/25/2010 at 11:35 PM

        Thanks, I thought it was as to the same event.

  19. srb
    05/25/2010 at 11:33 PM

    Has there been any testimony or evidence regarding the brand of security system installed in the house? I imagine that different security systems can work differently, but usually systems only chime when an exterior door is opened from a completely closed position. It’s difficult to believe that if the back door to the defendants’ home was left unlocked only and not ajar, thus activating the chime when opened, an intruder would have taken the trouble of scaling the fence on the off-chance that the back door might be unlocked. It’s equally hard to believe that an intruder was scaling fence after fence that night hoping to find an unlocked door. Or that a burglar would have chanced entering a home with a back bedroom light on, as Dylan Ward said in his interview.

    Lights that are left on just for the purpose of deterring burglars usually are in the front of the house, not the back. So, this alleged burglar was going into a house that he had a pretty good indication was not vacant that night, and was bypassing a darkened first floor to go into a floor that he knew to be occupied. Strange.

  20. tassojunior
    05/25/2010 at 11:49 PM

    If the back roll up gate wasn’t there, and that’s the issue here at least, the 6 foot wooden fence would not be hard to get over, especially as egress as Price insists, since there are two foot brick planters there and even this site is admitting now there were rocks or mulch which wouldn’t show footprints.

    If this was the case this was the most vunerable rear of any house in the area. The gate, in spite of the fact people here won’t even look at the photos, has wide spaces, at least one inch each, between the planks so that you can clearly see through the gate, including from the alley where you can easily see the rear door. The rear gate is shorter but at that time had a transom over it but not now.

    Of course I’m not in California but yards away so I’m sure the Californians and the “high officials” downtown know much better what it looks like.

    • Bea
      05/26/2010 at 2:04 AM

      Victor said he had no idea how anyone would get over the fence, and when the officer characterized it as “an 8 foot fence”, Victor corrects him to say it’s “a 9 foot fence”. I’m guessing he’d know better than you do, Tasso – and most of us can tell 6 feet from 8 or 9 feet. Even Californians.

      Joe claimed too that he had no idea how anyone could get over it (both suggested the car hood would be the best bet) but recalled a plumber (or some other contractor) who’d been able to scale it once.

    • Lyn
      05/26/2010 at 9:36 AM

      The answer to the lack of disturbance of the back fence is clearly that the “intruder” must have been an Olympic high jumper. I think detectives erred in not doing interviews with all those on the Olympic high jump team to verify their alibis.

      I guess we shouldn’t rule out an Olympic pole vaulter.

      Tasso – (As you know) You theories are silly.

      • Nora
        05/26/2010 at 9:49 AM

        More like a case of Xtreme parkour. Put out an APB for David Belle. “You can thank me later!”

  21. AnnaZed
    05/25/2010 at 11:57 PM

    “…The gate, in spite of the fact people here won’t even look at the photos…”

    In what sense was my posting the link for you to the post on this site (created by the eds) that had a picture of the gate a case of people that “won’t even look at the gate”? Are you mentally ill or something, seriously? WTF is your problem?

    Obviously, posting anything (anything at all) that creates long pointless repetitive threads (and then re-posting them and starting the process over and over again) that do not address any of the real issues in the case is your raison d’être, or something. It’s getting bizarre.

    • lurker
      05/26/2010 at 10:06 AM

      It’s a common tactic in blogging to swamp the thread when someone wants to either shut down discussion or turn off readers.

      By repetitively posting massaged minutiae, which the editors/admins need to correct, redirect etc, or by posting massive text, OR by linking, and so on.

      Another phenomenon is concern trolling, where someone adopts an attitude seemingly supportive of the site or topic, then proceeds to raise “concerns” that allow them to either derail discussion, or actually flog opposing viewpoints.

  22. tassojunior
    05/26/2010 at 12:13 AM

    WTF is yours? Endless people keep saying the fence is huge, the gate is solid, no one can see the rear door from the alley, there’s no footprints in the soil. Absolutely bizarre indeed that you brought it back up now yet again when I just explained to someone who didn’t seem to know. Keep your attitude and your condescending attitude to yourself champ.

    • Carolina
      05/26/2010 at 9:52 AM

      I think you have now crossed the Ben Franklin line.

    • Bea
      05/26/2010 at 10:16 AM

      Tasso, read Victor and Joe’s statement on the topic. Cop guesses that the back fence is “8 foot” and Victor says – “no, more like 9” and then says unless the intruder got on the car somehow, he didn’t see how they could go over. Unless you know more than Victor and Joe on the subject.

  23. John Grisham
    05/26/2010 at 12:23 AM

    I’m beginning to suspect that Lance, Ben and Tasso coexist together in polygamous male household in some other parallel universe.

    • AnnaZed
      05/26/2010 at 12:31 AM

      I don’t know what has happened to the reply buttons, they seem to sometimes work to thread posts, sometimes not.

      Anyway, John, you are a seriously funny guy. Seriously I’m laughing. I didn’t dare invoke Ben because he might reappear but given that other posting styles evoke his anyway who cares at this point.

      • John Grisham
        05/26/2010 at 12:47 AM

        If only there was a separate forum dedicated to Lance, Ben and Tasso exhaustively debating each other. I might actually subscribe to witness their rhetorical hilarities.

        • Gama
          05/26/2010 at 2:50 AM

          I’m glad I’m not the only one who realizes what’s going on here and relieved I don’t have to post first about it and risk being called a troll for pointing it out.

  24. Finn
    05/26/2010 at 12:30 AM

    Is it just me, or does it seem like the prosecution’s forensic case isn’t as strong as it seemed – pretrail? (knife, blood, drugs)

    So far the time-line has been the prosecution’s biggest score. There are a lot of witnesses saying that the defendants’ demeanor didn’t seem right. How far does that get you? There has not been a knock-out blow with the forensics, we thought. Will there be? Does there need to be for convictions?

    I know… patience.

    • Bill Orange
      05/26/2010 at 8:44 AM

      I’ve actually thought the prosecution’s case is stronger than I was expecting. For example, I could think of a lot of other explanations for the scream heard by the neighbor and for the needlemarks on Wone’s neck and foot, but the prosecution has done a very good job when it comes to ruling out those other explanations.

      The knife really hasn’t been discussed all that much, so I think we’ll be hearing more about that. The significance of the “missing” blood wasn’t very clear to me to begin with, and the numbers are all over the place. On the other hand, I’m expecting the prosecution to call more witnesses to talk about the likelihood of someone being brutally stabbed three times with no blood spatter on the floor, walls, or ceiling. And the prosecution’s evidence for drugs was never all that solid.

      I don’t expect a knock-out blow from the forensics, but I don’t really think that they need one. The prosecution need to show that the defendants’ stories don’t make any sense. It really doesn’t matter how they do so.

    • plumskiter
      05/26/2010 at 10:07 AM

      to Finn. there is an old trial saw that pieces of evidence are like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. no one piece tells the whole story but when you assemble them, a picture emerges. so don’t expect a “knock-out blow” piece of the puzzle, just keep putting the pieces together. (of course, the defense will respond [1] we don’t have enough to make a picture beyond a reasonable doubt; [2] the pieces which have the defendants’ faces on them are missing; [3] you need to take each individual piece and put it under a microscope and it does not tell you the whole story, throw that piece away.] i personally always liked this analogy and, to avoid problems 1&2 above, usually only trotted out during rebuttal closing argument to respond to #3.

  25. Miss Marple
    05/26/2010 at 1:19 AM

    Maybe I missed it, but what is the deal with all the blood vaporizing? 3 stab wounds and only tiny hand-sized prints of blood on the sheets? And then only 2 liters of blood drained at the autopsy? Weird… Even if you applied pressure and wiped the wounds, did you have time to wash all the sheets? Couldn’t they have tested the other towels for blood, semen, etc?

    Also, aren’t there some sort of forensic tests that the po-po could have done to see where blood had been spilled or splattered around the house? It doesn’t seem like stab wounds would be very clean, especially since the knife was inserted and pulled out three times. There have to be splatter drops or puddles somewhere, right? Even if they did it in the bathtub or shower (which seems likely in my opinion and part of the whole “he showered before bed” story), shouldn’t there be residual mist with trace amounts of organic matter somewhere? I mean, it’s not like the stabber was making super slow surgical-like incisions… allegedly the murderer was stabbing a man that was alive, so the job would have been quick and messy, no?

    Can someone go into 1509 and rip up the carpets or flooring and spray that glow-in-the-dark chemical that detects blood even years after it has been spilled, please? If there is hardwood or tile flooring there is guaranteed blood in the crevices.. even around the shower caulking or tiles, right?

    • John Grisham
      05/26/2010 at 1:32 AM

      Thanks Miss M., your speculation suggests a lot.

    • tucsonwriter
      05/26/2010 at 1:34 AM

      If you read some of the coverage under botched police investigation – the authorities misapplied a chemical agent which did show blood on the walls, doorjamb, bed, etc in the room – but because of misapplication subsequent tests could not be made to show that the “blood” was indeed blood. There have been a number of mistakes – there are links to a number of articles from the Washington Post, etc that document mistakes that have been made on the part of law enforcement. The whole house was taken apart and put back together. It cost the defendants over $200,000 to repair and clean up the home after the police were done with it.

      • Miss Marple
        05/26/2010 at 2:02 AM

        whoops, sorry. will go back and read those articles.

        yes i read on wikipedia that this chemical agent used to detect blood also shows positive for other organic matter like feces: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luminol

        but the article also cites the ability to extract DNA from the areas even after it has been sprayed with the chemical agent.

        so unless there is feces on the wall, doorjamb, bed, etc.. why not continue to swab and test? and even if it wasn’t blood, couldn’t they have taken a photograph of where the chemical agent came up positive and done a pattern analysis of the splatter to reconstruct a hypothetical version of the crime scene?

      • Miss Marple
        05/26/2010 at 3:08 AM

        ok just read the wa-po articles. so the chemical spray only showed trace spots of blood too small to be seen with the naked eye. so, that is not the missing 4 or so litres of blood.

        maybe they cleaned it with some cleansing agent (water obviously would have left traces of blood proteins everywhere), but wouldn’t the paramedic notice a strong smell of bleach or some other cleaning agent?

        • Bill Orange
          05/26/2010 at 8:49 AM

          Maybe yes, maybe no. A slight odor of cleaning agents could probably be dismissed by the defendants saying, “We cleaned the room last night, because we knew we were having a houseguest.” And it’s not uncommon for a bathroom to smell like cleaning agents.

        • tucsonwriter
          05/26/2010 at 10:36 AM

          My impression from the article I read was that the walls, etc had been scrubbed down – that was why there were only trace amounts. That is what these chemicals are for – to “see” where blood originally was and has been removed.

        • Cecily
          05/26/2010 at 12:20 PM

          How do you screw up an investigation? I would be fired if I srewed up like that. This makes me sick thinking that the police must somehow want these guys to get off or they wouldn’t have f’ed this up so much. I guess I watch too many crime shows and assumed our police were just as good.

  26. tucsonwriter
    05/26/2010 at 1:29 AM

    Venice, Fla.: Mr. Duggan, has anyone looked at whether the needle marks could have been the result of an acupuncture-type event? Since the housemate is schooled in massage therapy and has trained in Thailand, it seems plausible that he may have picked up some training in the use of acupuncture to sedate or immobilize someone — something that would fit in with his fetish lifestyle and also would leave no traces of drugs in the victim’s system.

    I found this in part of the Washington Post coverage. Pretty interesting theory.

    • Miss Marple
      05/26/2010 at 1:46 AM

      tusconwriter – yes, that has been ruled out since the tests have shown that the gauge the needle marks are consistent of those of a hypodermic needle and not of those used in acupuncture.

      also:
      1. acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years, not a form of massage or street performance from Thailand. Different countries and completely different cultures.

      2. acupuncture is used to improve circulation and flow of “Qi”, not to sedate or immobilize someone, and in fact can not sedate or immobilize someone.. the recipient just sits still so they don’t end up with needles all the way through their body. i really hope you weren’t basing that statement off of a scene that you saw in crouching tiger, hidden dragon or some other kung fu flick.

      3. while the merits of acupuncture may still be debated, it is quite mainstream and your correlation between acupuncture and something that “fits” into a “fetish lifestyle” is rather, for lack of a better word, ignorant.

      • tucsonwriter
        05/26/2010 at 10:33 AM

        I just copied that from another article – did not write it. I was just putting it out there on the forum.

  27. Tallulah
    05/26/2010 at 1:54 AM

    Thanks John…you have lowered my blood pressure after reading TassoJr/Ben/Lance’s blathering over the past hour. Cheers!

  28. Farmer Ginny
    05/26/2010 at 7:24 AM

    It’s been a few days since I read the transcripts of the interrogations, but I think I remember Victor and one other (Dylan?) commenting on the strange position of one of Mr. Wone’s hands — I think one description said that the thumb was stuck between the index and middle fingers.

    What do you make of that? Both the hand position and the defendants’ mention of it.

    • plumskiter
      05/26/2010 at 10:10 AM

      i have been wondering the same thing. seems like a very odd detail for two of them to mention.

      • Bea
        05/26/2010 at 10:19 AM

        I thought it was only Joe. But peculiar nonetheless since he’s ‘squeezing’ hard – after he was dead?

  29. Aquanetta
    05/26/2010 at 10:28 AM

    I hope this case doesn’t turn into a gay OJ. (No offense intended). I think alot of people are so ready to find an excuse for them to be innocent, that they are missing the writing on the wall. Sadly, the wealthy can afford these types of attorney’s that can spin the smallest mistakes into ‘reasonable’ doubt. Obviously, there has been mistakes made by law enforcement. But, it doesn’t cloud the overwhelming ‘common sense’ evidence to their guilt. (Why do you think they went for a bench trial?) Judges tend to be more black/white than seeing through the smoke and mirror show put on by defense attorneys. (If the glove don’t fit…you must accquit. LOL) Here is a few random comments:
    1. WHO leaves their door unlocked in DC, no matter what neightborhood you live in? I live in NVA on the 9th floor and I lock my door EVERY NIGHT. I don’t belive this.
    2. The Brother Did It Theory – This is an interesting one and deserves some merit. BUT, other than Joe, why would any of the others risk their freedom for the brother? This doesn’t make alot of sense to me. And, if the statements are true to the physcial abuse by the brother, I’d think that Joe wouldn’t risk his freedom either. MY OPINION – The brother didn’t do it.
    3. Blood – WHERE did all the blood go? This is a mystery that Im sure will eventually have an explanation. Probable a wierd of the wall one… but an explanation. If the def. are correct, and an intruder broke in and stabbled Wone, then there would be blood all over. You don’t need to watch Law and Order to figure that one out. MY OPINION – Wone was killed somewhere else and broght back. This would explain the lack of blood evidence. I wonder if the police have looked into other real estate holding by the three in the close proximity (or access to).
    4. The Alarm – Supposedly the alarm went off. Several posters made comment that the alarm would have been heard by the mythical assaliant. However, our intruder continued into the home (despite the alarm) and went up a flight of stairs, skipping one bedroom to go into another. Then, stab Wone three times while leaving little or no blood, then escape without any of the other three housemates seeing him. (WOW, as I typed that, it sounded more far fetched than it originally had to myself.)
    5. No fingerprints – It’s odd that there were no prints on the gate UNLESS it was wipped clean. This would explain the lack of ANY prints.
    6. Semen – The only semen found was Wone’s own around his anus. Even as a gay man, this kind of grosses me out. AND, it very difficult to explain. Maybe if this started out as something consentual, the other party(s) involved would be wear condom(s). This would explain the lack of other DNA (DNA sounds better than SEMEN, right?) If the postings are correct and Joe has a terrible fear of diseases (as we all should) then he would DEFINTITELY be wearing one. Of course, we have the electric ‘milking’ machine found… That’s puts a spin on this topic. Ugggg..

    Ok… my thoughts for now.

    • SJinNYC
      05/29/2010 at 7:37 AM

      Reply to your #6 “maybe if this started off as consensual the other parties would be wearing condoms”. Rapists wear condoms too, for the very purpose of avoiding leaving DNA evidence behind. I don’t see the correlation between evidence of (possible) condom use and this being consensual.

      Once and for all, all evidence points to Robert being a NON CONSENSUAL participant in these activities. He was sexually assaulted, end of story. I don’t know for the life of me why this is so hard for people to wrap their minds around. Because he’s a man? Because he stayed overnight at the home of a gay friend? Men get raped too, not just women, and straight men have gay friends. This is the 21st century.

  30. VA Librarian
    05/26/2010 at 11:42 AM

    The door chime emanates from the control box for the alarm. Most people put the control box at some point that is equidistant from the major entrances for the house, since one has a very limited amount of time to either put the code in to turn it off or to get out of the house when it’s set. Kitchens are usual places, since it’s not exactly a thing of beauty for one’s living room.

    Does anyone know where the control box for the alarm in 1509 Swann St. is located? It’s impossible that someone upstairs would have heard it but not someone walking in downstairs, if it’s located in any normal proximity.

  31. ramknts
    05/26/2010 at 11:54 AM

    good question asked above:

    “what does michael’s HIV status have to do with anything?”

    though this is not what the asker implied, i’ve been thinking about the murder in terms of the body fluids involved i.e. why mr. wone was stuck with needles or was covered with his own semen post-clean up and post-death.

    mind you, these are outlandish considerations, but everything about this case is outlandish anyway…

    if michael were the sexual assailant and/or injected mr. wone with contaminated needles, perhaps there was the possibility of mr. wone later developing HIV if left alive.

    since michael worked in the healthcare field and was training to become a phlebotomist, he knew the value of plasma. i have known my share of drug addicts in the past; they will do anything for money.

    lastly, did we know if mr. wone was on any prescription medications? i’m 99% sure i read that he wasn’t taking anything. if, however, he took ambien and the (presumably guilty in this situation) housemates were aware of this, they did not even have to drug him with something in the water. they knew within minutes he would be out of it and possibly later amnesic.

  32. Nora
    05/27/2010 at 7:46 AM

    ‘Were other searches done? “Dumpsters and alleys all around…in a several block radius of the 1500 block of Swann Street,” (Detective Wagner) related.’

    So the police did search the dumpsters. I have a hard time picturing one of the fab 3 sprinting more than a few blocks on a summer night in that area w/ a Hefty bag or two full of incriminating evidence. Time line, street traffic, etc. A fifth party was there that night. Miiiiiiiichael?

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