A Judge’s Lack of Patience and a Detective’s Hardball Tactics
The after-lunch session started off fairly stormy. Judge Lynn Leibovitz scolded the government attorneys for nearly a half hour on their failure to make clear how they intend to present and use the defendants’ statements – for truth or not.
AUSA Rachel Carlson Lieber took the brunt of Leibovitz’ lecture. Granted, Carlson Lieber didn’t help matters when she admitted that she simply wasn’t sure what would, and would not, be offered for truth. This was not what the judge wanted to hear.
“As I said, I need to know what you propose to offer, for what purpose and against whom. Maybe I don’t have the patience to have this discussion right now.”
“What specific stuff are you offering for its truth? This should be the subject of a conference between the government and the defense counsel. Unless and until the defense is in a position to know how you offer them, you have to be clear.”
“Decide what your trial strategy is. We’re two weeks into this, so put it in writing so we all know.”
This admonishment changed the line up in witnesses the government was going to call today and led to an early adjournment. Gone was any testimony from MPD Detective Gail Russel-Brown; in her place Detective Brian Kasul took the stand. To accompany his testimony, the videotape of his interview with Victor Zaborsky was played.
Wow. Full details after the jump.
Zaborsky and Kasul were seated in a similar interrogation room that hosted his co-defendants Joe Price and Dylan Ward. The big difference between this interview and theirs was the detective’s tone, tenor and tactics.
Kasul was in Zaborsky’s face throughout the session. Kasul seemed 100% certain that he was not getting the truth from Zaborsky and he then turned up the heat:
“You know, you know, you know, you do know (who committed the murder)!
“You’re shaking, I’m reading your body language! No one broke into your house. Let that go! You will not last in DC jail. Those boys will eat you alive.
“Absolutely not. That’s a 100% scientific certainty (it was not an intruder). One of you killed him and two of you covered it up. You’re not a killer; you don’t have what it takes to go the distance.”
Zaborsky denied Kasul’s accusations every step of the way and while his emotions showed through, he remained in control. “My life will never be the same,” Zaborsky offered. To which Kasul shot back, “The degree of change (in your life) is what you have control over…but maybe you won’t down the road.”
Connolly picked up the stick and went on offense during his cross. Kasul lied to Zaborsky, Connolly said; he confronted him, accused him of lying, said his housemates incriminated him, said he wouldn’t survive jail and would be left standing alone. Kasul denied none of it. Zaborsky was seeing crying today as his interview was being played.
Connolly’s exposure of Kasul’s “threats and lies” seemed to be plenty for the defense; neither Grimm nor Schertler took the opportunity to cross examine.
Carlson Lieber’s redirect was brief. Referencing Kasul’s hardball tactics, she asked, “Were you testing Zaborsky’s truth?” “No, I was not testing, he said. “Did you think Zaborsky was telling you the truth,” she asked Kasul. “No I did not,” he said.
Aside from brief testimony from yet another MPD evidence tech, Charles Egan, which looked at the chain of custody on the knife (between recovery and the medical examiner’s office), that was it for the day.
The trial resumes Thursday morning at 10:00am.