Day 10: Updates

5:00pm Adjournment Update

The downstairs tenant of 1509, Sarah Morgan, took the stand and described the relationships among the three defendants, her reasons for being gone on the night of the murder, and the series of phone calls she got that morning from Joe and Michael Price before her visit to the VCB in Anacostia.

A full wrap for the day will hit around 7:00pm.

3:00pm update:

The afternoon session kicked off with a government breakthrough; AUSA Glenn Kirschner said he would be offering all statements (defendants’ interviews on tape, those to police officers and to civilians) for their truth. 100% of the statements will be offered for their truth against the individual defendant who made the statement, but not against the other two.

They will rely upon the judge to make the distinction as to what can and cannot properly be admitted against each defendant, and to rely only upon admissabile evidence in making her decisions. 

Ward co-counsel Robert Spagnoletti was up to object.  He said the government was changing course mid-trial, and only at the prompting of Judge Leibovitz’ hypothetical question she posed to the prosecution this morning; a bank robber and get-away car driver.

Spagnoletti said the  defense would’ve taken a different course and they may have crossed witnesses in a different manner.  “This informed our cross examination effect… This (change of course by the government) raises huge Cnfrontation Clause problems…  which will powerfully incriminate other defendants.” 

Spagnoletti was a direct and animated as we’ve seen him.  Leibovitz needled him somewhat, “Why can’t a judge follow her own instrctions,” she asked.

The government cited a 3d Circuit ruling but the judge noted that the DC Court of Appeals has yet tackled this issue.  Rather than decide today, Leibovitz gave Spagnoletti time to decide on a filing or response while she works over the matter too.  “I take seriously the unfairness issue,” she told Spagnoletti. 

A break was called just as AUSA Patrick Martin finished his direct of Paula Salvador, the phlebotomy instructor of Michael Price.  Her cross begings at 3:00pm

More updates follow after the jump.

1:15pm Update (Lunch break)

We’re three hours into today’s session and have yet to see a witness take the stand. The discussion has all been process, process, process.  Oh, Michael Price and Sarah Morgan too.

For the Nth time over the past few weeks, Judge Leibovitz has pleaded with AUSA Glenn Kirschner to make clear and unambiguous, how we will present the defendants’ interview statements, as well as others by police and civilian witnesses: for the truth,not,  as verbal acts or whatever. 

 I won’t even begin to try and explain the mind-bending complexity of the 25 minute discussion as Sean is off today so we’re screwed on evidentiary inside baseball.  Leibovitz does not want Kirschner to do this “on the fly,” and it now appears that the prosecutor and Zaborsky counsel Tom Connolly may hammer out some sort of agreement and/or understanding during the 90 minute lunch break.

At 11:30am, the discussion turned to defendant Joe Price’s brother Michael.  The pertinent case law appears to be Winfield, maybe some Hager and Resper too for good measure.

Kirschner maintains that evidence exists regarding implicating Michael Price, and will speak to the charge that his brother Joe had good reason to cover for him, and that the other defendants did as well.  A Montgomery County College professor will testify to the younger Price’s phelbotomy classes and attendance; Louis Hinton will testify to Michael’s substance abuse, proclivity to “benders.. and disappearing for days at a time,” as well as his bi-polar disorder.

Sarah Morgan will testify, immediately after the break we think, that when she agreed to be a tenant of 1509, she directly asked Joe if Michael had a key to the house.

Kirschner contends that Joe did not say to Morgan that his brother either had a key or knew the security codes to the alarm system.  Kirschner also said that right after the 1509 burglary, Joe Price and Hinton had a conversation on the need to get Michael “off the streets,”  and that Hinton said he falsely reported his car was stolen by Michael in an effort “to secure his presence.”

Talk next turned to what Michael Price said or was overheard saying at Robert’s funeral, “…cussing out a homicide detective and rallying to the defense of his brother (Joe).”  There is some confusion of Michael’s statements at the funeral and whether when he said “he was at the hospital,” was meant to mean GWU (where Robert was taken), or was on his rounds at St Mary’s as part of his phelbotomy training.

Price counsel Bernie Grimm got up to speak on his efforts to exclude any of that testimony and offered the grand jury testimony of Daniel Rogers, a William and Mary classmate of Joe’s, who heard the hospital statement.  Grimm undercsored that the meaning of it was unclear.  Kirschner said it had more to do with the tone in which this ambiguous statement was said.

A five minute defense conference followed in the hallway and we came to learn that neither Ward nor Zaborsky joined in on Joe Price’s motion to exclude the Michael Price testimony or evidence. “We agree with the government that it should come in and is admissible,” said Ward counsel David Schertler.

Leibovitz said that the government had met the Winfield standard and the Michael Price evidence was relevant to establishing the motivation by Joe Price to not identify his brother to police as a key holder, one of the overt acts of conspiracy in Kirschner’s charges.  She handed the prosecution their fourth win for the day.

The judge said, “The evidence advances the proposition that Michael Price may have committed the murder…” although it is neither clear or convincing. 

At 12:30pm, downstairs tenant Sarah Morgan was about to take the stand for what Kirschner called “lengthy” testimony, but the lunch break was called, ostensibly to allow Kirschner and Connolly to talk about statements.  Kirschner said he hoped to “make more clear, or clear for the first time,” how they would be submitted.

Lastly: Sean is back and will help us navigate the rocky shoals of the statements, and expect to see some wmrw “Shakey-Cam” footage on the news this evening.  We may be the only ones with video of Michael Price


11:00am Update

First up today was Judge Leibovitz’ ruling on the admissibility of the testing and experiments of government’s trace evidence analyst, Douglas Deedrick.

The defense had argued that both of his tests (Fabric Imprint on the Knife and Fiber Transfer on pork loin) failed to meet certain scientific and legal thresholds, notably Frye and Dias, and that Deedrick was unqualified to offer expert opinions on imprints.

Judge Leibovitz ruled that both of Deedrick’s tests /experiments did meet the requirements of being “substantially similar,” and will allow them in.  

She also ruled in favor of admitting his testimony as a fiber expert on the question of imprint analysis.  His experience, skills and knowledge in the field were more than enough to satisfy Leibovitz.

Next, discussion on the Michael Price issue, after the mid-morning session resumes at 11:05am.

10am Update – Remembering Robert’s 36th

Court sits very soon, and as always we’ll have full coverage from the day.

But before beginning we wanted to mark this day, June 1st, as Robert’s birthday.  He would have turned 36 today – still young enough to just be starting life.

We recall once again that Robert’s favorite song was “What a Wonderful World.”   Let’s all remember to remind ourselves – and our loved ones – about that on this day.

8:30am Update – The Heavy Weather Edition

The tropical hurricane season starts today, and it just might be getting stormier inside Judge Lynn Leibovitz’ courtroom this week.

AUSA Glenn Kirschner indicated he may bring MPD lead Detective Brian Waid to the stand early this week for up to two days of testimony and cross.

At some point we may also see the return of Detective Gail Russell-Brown.  Her testimony was cut short on Friday because the government wasn’t squared away on how to present statements.

At some point, the government will be stitching together the threads of the alleged conspiracy.  The Washington Post’s Keith Alexander had this in yesterday’s edition, and perhaps it’s a preview of her testimony on what may emerge as a key element of that charge:

“Prosecutors also plan to present evidence of a confrontation between Michael Price and a homicide detective on the day of Wone’s funeral. As mourners and police detectives gathered in a parking lot after the funeral, Price allegedly, in a profanity-laced rage, confronted Detective Gail Russell-Brown with questions about why police were harassing his brother instead of searching for Wone’s killer.

The confrontation, prosecutors assert, is evidence of Michael Price’s “consciousness of guilt” — a legal standard of evidence that prosecutors use to show how a person’s actions after a crime reveal that person’s involvement in the crime. Attorneys for the housemates argue that Price was simply defending his brother. On Friday, Leibovitz ordered prosecutors to present additional evidence of Price’s state of mind during his confrontation with the detective before she allows the detective to testify.”

Kudos to Keith for nailing this over the holiday weekend.

Mercedes, Mercedes, Old Van:  A Swann Street resident helps us identify “the guy” that Joe Price initially fingered as a person the police should question regarding Robert’s murder.  As best as we can tell, there was a gentleman who lived from the back of his van, perhaps parked in a neighboring T Street backyard, not far from 1509 Swann.

Based on what we’ve heard, this gentleman may not have posed all that high a threat.  The man was somewhat well-known to residents who shared the alley, as a harmless and non-threatening figure who was given to drink.  So given it appears, that it was unlikely he could’ve gotten over the 1509 back fence even if he was shot out of a cannon.

Today’s session kicks off at 9:50am in courtroom 310.

116 comments for “Day 10: Updates

  1. 06/01/2010 at 9:22 AM

    Happy Birthday Robert

    • abc
      06/01/2010 at 7:32 PM

      I also wish Robert Wone rest in peace – Happy Birthday to you.

  2. Lyn
    06/01/2010 at 9:41 AM

    “Price…confronted Detective Gail Russell-Brown with questions about why police were harassing his brother instead of searching for Wone’s killer.”

    So let me get this straight. Price told police that he didn’t see the “intruder” and had absolutely no idea who the “intruder” was. Therefore, he had no idea who killed his “close friend.” Given this, why would Price automatically rule out his brother? Why wouldn’t Price want police to do a little digging around on those known to Wone to eliminate them as suspects?

    If Price really cared about his “close friend” Wone, wouldn’t he want police to identify and capture the murderer, whomever that person may be?

    To me, it sure seems odd that Price claimed to want to find the killer, said he didn’t know who the killer was, yet automatically ruled out certain people without any evidence that they weren’t involved.

    • CC Biggs
      06/01/2010 at 9:52 AM

      During his police interview, Price also ruled out all possibility of Ward as the killer, even though Price knew that Ward was present on the same floor as Robert at the time of the killing and Price was (according to his own story) asleep upstairs on the third floor. Given those facts, Price could not possibly have ruled out Ward as the killer with certainty, but he did so repeatedly during his police interview.

    • I Loved Christie Love!
      06/01/2010 at 10:54 AM

      Just to clarify–wasn’t it Michael confronting the police officer at the funeral re: their investigation of Joe? Not Joe confronting the police officer at the funeral re: Michael. Right?

      • Bill Orange
        06/01/2010 at 11:02 AM

        That’s how I’m reading it, but I hadn’t heard about the altercation before now, so I’m doubtful about what happened until I hear the testimony.

      • Lyn
        06/01/2010 at 12:27 PM

        Upon re-read, I stand corrected. Although I guess the same questions apply even if the names are reversed.

    • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
      06/01/2010 at 1:10 PM

      Good point Lyn.

      If JP can’t be certain he it WAS, he can’t be certain who it wasn’t either.

  3. christy love
    06/01/2010 at 10:19 AM

    How is confronting the police about looking at a family member as a suspect a “consciousness of guilt”? One could think they are truly innocent and that the police are squandering an opportunity and possibly letting the real killer or killers get away.

    • Bill Orange
      06/01/2010 at 10:22 AM

      I don’t quite understand the argument, either. To me, screaming obscenities at the police at a murder victim’s funeral is evidence of being an asshole, not evidence of guilt.

      • Hoya Loya
        06/01/2010 at 10:31 AM

        I tend to agree — yelling “Leave my brother alone” is consistent with defending a family member, who at that point, was considered innocent by many close to him (and some still do). Also, there is video somewhere on this site of Micheal being bleeped as he walks out of the courthouse at an earlier hearing.

        If anything is news about the incident, it is the comment about being at the hospital. I hope the prosection read plumskiter’s erudite post over the weekend so they can figure out how to get the statement admitted.

        • Bill Orange
          06/01/2010 at 10:44 AM

          Do we have an exact quote on the “at the hospital” statement? It still isn’t clear to me if he was saying he was “at the hospital” for his phlebotomy class earlier in the evening (which isn’t true, based on what we know), or if he was saying he was “at the hospital” after the murder to be with his brother’s friend (which would make more sense). I still don’t have a sense for how many people the defendants called right after the ambulance came.

          They obviously called Kathy Wone. I wonder if they also called Michael Price and Lisa Goddard. If those two went to the hospital that night, it would explain how they ended up at VCB the next morning. They would’ve arrived at the hospital, found out Wone was dead, and then called Price, Zaborsky, and Ward to try to figure out where they were and what the hell had happened. There would be no point in staying at the hospital after Kathy Wone and her parents had left, so the obvious thing to do at that point would be to go to VCB and wait for Price, Zaborsky, and Ward to come out.

          • Lyn
            06/01/2010 at 12:31 PM

            “or if he was saying he was “at the hospital” after the murder to be with his brother’s friend”

            The “I was at the hospital” statement by M. Price was siad in the context of him having an alibi. M. Price showing up to the hospital after the murder wouldn’t give him an alibi during the murder.

            • Bill Orange
              06/01/2010 at 1:12 PM

              “The “I was at the hospital” statement by M. Price was siad in the context of him having an alibi.”

              Are you sure? We haven’t heard the testimony of what he actually said yet. It could’ve just been one long expletive-laden rant with all kinds of things jumbled together.

              • New Alias
                06/01/2010 at 1:25 PM

                After deliberation, it was determined that Michael may have been referring to the practical session of his phlebotomy class, which was held at a hospital in Montgomery County the early morning of August 3rd – that he might well have meant that he was at the hospital when his brother called to tell him what had happened.

                Sorry I don’t remember exact words but that explanation sounded very plausible to me.

                • Carolina
                  06/01/2010 at 1:44 PM

                  Deliberation by whom? It was ambiguous, and no further explanation has been forthcoming, period.

                  That said, I think it does speak to consciousness of guilt. That’s the kind of emotion that makes people yell stupid things at their brother’s friend’s funeral.

              • AkaZappa
                06/01/2010 at 2:04 PM

                It was reported in the Washington Post that it was volunteered as an alibi.

            • Carolina
              06/01/2010 at 1:45 PM

              Why would Michael be at GW? I can understand supporting your brother, but he didn’t know Robert and I can’t see why they would crowd the emergency waiting room when Joe was at VCB.

              • Bill Orange
                06/01/2010 at 1:51 PM

                I’m still not sure that Michael didn’t know Robert.

                Anyway, it would make sense to me that if your friend has just been stabbed, and you can’t go to the hospital with them, you would make sure someone else could go in your place. Kathy Wone lived outside the city, so if Michael Price was closer (and I’ll stress that I don’t know if he actually WAS closer), it would make sense to call him and have him go to the ER.

                (Alternative theory: If you intended to kill someone, and the paramedics were acting like he wasn’t actually dead, and the police were taking you in for questioning, then you’d want to make damn sure that you had someone at the hospital to tell you whether or not your intended victim was still alive.)

                • Agatha
                  06/01/2010 at 2:25 PM

                  Wow. Your alternative theory may be right on – or … if Michael was the one to commit this act of violence – maybe he was making sure for himself. Plus he may have been dropping off bloody evidence as well.

                  • ladyg
                    06/01/2010 at 2:46 PM

                    i said that just the other day, (one of my many questions). does the hospital have cameras (like most public places), was michael p seen carrying a duffle/back pack, that day after. no one would questioned a bloody garnment/towel, placed in a laundry bin/basket.

                • Carolina
                  06/01/2010 at 8:58 PM

                  How would he know? Maybe that’s why he was checking his blackberry, not the innocent reason given earlier.

          • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
            06/01/2010 at 1:29 PM

            Louis Hinton said that Michael was with HIM the night of the murder. Was there any mention of Michael running off to the hospital in the journal entry? I don’t think so.

            Hmmm…..all that seems a little messy.

            The time it would take to get to the hospital (30 or more minutes) from Silver Spring. Diary entries. Telephone calls that could be tracked. Pings on cell phones. Seems like the FBI could figure this mess out.

        • Hoya Loya
          06/01/2010 at 11:08 AM

          I think I was wrong about the video. Apologies.

    • I Loved Chrisite Love!
      06/01/2010 at 10:49 AM

      We gonna bust you, baby!

    • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
      06/01/2010 at 1:08 PM

      What it says to me is that Michael has no control.

      • Carolina
        06/01/2010 at 2:11 PM

        Or tact, or respect, or hair, or gym membership…

        • Get Christie Love!
          06/01/2010 at 5:16 PM

          Totally unnecessary to direct peronal attacks about the personal appearance of one of the defendant’s family members.

          Very small-minded and immature.

          And not very surprising, considering the source.

          • Carolina
            06/01/2010 at 9:00 PM

            Oh, like he hasn’t been called worse. Do we know one another? New nick?

  4. I Loved Christie Love!
    06/01/2010 at 12:23 PM

    Sorry, but that Deedrick evidence reeked. I just stuck a spoon into a block of cheese through a wet paper napkin. I guess I’m an expert now.

    • Bill Orange
      06/01/2010 at 1:09 PM

      I was a little more impressed with his qualifications than you were, but I don’t think he said anything that really hurt the defense that much. I thought that the judges ruling was far more informative than anything Deedrick had to say.

      • New Alias
        06/01/2010 at 1:31 PM

        When the Judge recapped his qualifications and the words he used to describe his experiments, and his findings from those experiments, it sounded much better. It was Deedrick’s delivery that hurt him, not his actions. He is considered an expert in his field; he created a reasonable simulation of the stabbing (reasonable in that the only way to perfectly recreate the circumstances would have been to actually stab something); and he offered his findings as opinion, not fact, that the fibers count and location on the knife in his 3 test runs was different that found on the knife – and that’s all.

        It sounded perfectly reasonable when she explained it.

        • Bea
          06/01/2010 at 1:49 PM

          This is why defense counsel generally prefer juries. The delivery matters to them.

    • Carolina
      06/01/2010 at 2:13 PM

      I think that is a vast over-simplification, but yeah, they needed to make the arguments stronger.

  5. The Man in the Van
    06/01/2010 at 12:28 PM

    Unbelievable, Price is such a punk… he tried to pin the murder on the homeless guy in the van. He’s one of the nicest guys and keeps to himself. He’s no longer there now, but he was around for years and was never a problem. I know because I share the alley. Price and Co. are a bunch of liars and are hopefully going to jail.

    • Nelly
      06/01/2010 at 12:37 PM

      Not just the homeless guy, but a “black guy” to Price. Wonder how his son’s African American mother feels about that pin-the-blame on the “black guy” remark.

      Happy birthday to Robert Wone, RIP.

  6. corgivet
    06/01/2010 at 12:42 PM

    Happy Birthday Robert

  7. New Alias
    06/01/2010 at 1:21 PM

    WOW. The court just broke for lunch after an edge-of-your-seat session. I really hope a transcript of the trial is made available – I’d love to go back over what was said today to check my take on what happened. I have no legal expertise, but to the best of my understanding, the following transpired (not in this order):

    ** Prosecution laid out what information about Michael Price they’d like to explore and what they hope to prove from it. Some of it is, IMHO, bullshit, and some of it is damning. Judge questioned Prosecution extensively on why Prosecution thought each element was admissible. Parts that I thought were specious (and I take my cues from the Judge’s statements – she found these dubious too):
    – statements made by Michael at funeral. Apparently these statements are ambiguous. One of them is along the lines of “I was at the hospital” – from which the witness inferred that Michael meant he was at the hospital when the murder took place. Michael’s phlebotomy class is held in a regular classroom somewhere, but there’s also an on-site practical component that teach at a hospital. Just such a session was scheduled for early morning August 3rd. Judge asked if it wasn’t just as likely that Michael meant he was at the hospital (with his class) when he got the call from Joe that he was at the police station? IMO – yes, of course, in fact that makes a lot more sense since we know Joe called him and we know (I think) that he was at the hospital, where he was supposed to be, that morning.

    The other statement involves Michael aggressively telling MPD to lay off his brother and find the real killer, or something to that effect. Amazingly, Prosecution argues that this indicates a guilty state of mind. Judge asked whether this would be the opposite of what he would do if he were guilty – lay low or flee. Prosecution is apparently relying on Macbeth rather than legal precedent, stating basically that they think he did protest too much. Totally specious. Judge pressed Prosecution for solid reasons why they thought this info was relevant and why it should be admitted.

    Evidence she didn’t seem to see as problematic: Michael’s phlebotomy training, that he had a key and security code, and other things I can’t remember at the moment.

    Defense objected to all of Prosecutions evidence against Michael specifically and in general. Judge overruled – everything will be heard save perhaps Louis Hinton.

    If any of this contradicts what the editors understand to have happened, I defer to them.

    • Ohio
      06/01/2010 at 1:33 PM

      Wonder why not Louis?

      • Bill Orange
        06/01/2010 at 1:46 PM

        Ouch. The prosecution can admit everything EXCEPT for Michael Price’s alibi witness. Not a good day for the defense team.

        • New Alias
          06/01/2010 at 1:57 PM

          Just keep in mind i may have understood that wrong. But I believe the alibi was excluded because Michael is not on trial here – he hasn’t been charged with obstruction or murder or abetting a murder. So he does not need an alibi. I think the fact that they were a couple at the time would have had to have been brought up – in other words, to offer the alibi for truth would have necessitated questioning Hinton’s veracity, and that was outside the scope of the case.

          Frankly, my impression is that the Judge has enough evidence already.

          • CC Biggs
            06/01/2010 at 4:13 PM

            Enough evidence for what? To convict? All three?

    • Bill Orange
      06/01/2010 at 1:45 PM

      “Prosecution is apparently relying on Macbeth rather than legal precedent…”

      It’s Hamlet, I think, but I’m not an expert in this field, either. 😉

    • Carolina
      06/01/2010 at 3:12 PM

      But didn’t Louis say Michael was on a bender that night, and doesn’t the attendance records for class indicate he was AWOL the night of the murder?

      • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
        06/01/2010 at 3:35 PM

        I thought Louis said (in his journal) that Michael was snug in bed with him the night of the murder. And the bender was the next night. Apparently, the worst relapse he had had in a very long time.

        • Carolina
          06/01/2010 at 9:01 PM

          Yes, correct. For some reason I thought he was “snug in bed” because of the relapse, which was his excuse for not attending class. I may be wrong.

  8. Ohio
    06/01/2010 at 1:33 PM

    Happy birthday to Robert Wone, RIP.

  9. Bill Orange
    06/01/2010 at 1:33 PM

    “…Daniel Rogers, a William and Mary classmate of Joe’s…”

    This is a bit nitpicky, but do you mean schoolmate here? Or are you sure that Daniel Rogers is W&M Class of ’93?

    • Bill Orange
      06/01/2010 at 1:35 PM

      “Kirschner maintains that evidence exists regarding implicating Michael Price…”

      Any idea what this could be?

  10. galoon
    06/01/2010 at 1:42 PM

    Sarah left 1509 at 6 pm that night and called Joe shortly after to say she set the alarm on her way out. Joe told her that was ok. It’s not clear to me from the legal docs if she told Joe she was staying out at that time or whether it was during an earlier call. I’d like to know from Sarah if it was typical for her to change her mind about staying out and instead come home. Joe indicated in his statement that it was not unusual for Sarah to do just that. He uses that claim to support an initial lack of concern when the chime went off. It’s a little thing, but, little inconsistencies sometimes add up.

  11. Bea
    06/01/2010 at 1:46 PM

    The stitching together is starting to look like a quilt. Sarah was worried about Michael having a key, and Joe lied that he didn’t. Whether or not Michael killed Robert Wone, or was a part of the murder, it sure seems that this is the primary element of the conspiracy and the reason for the tampering and obstruction.

    Biggest question for me: why did the Ward and Zaborsky counsel refuse to join the Motion to exclude evidence re Michael Price?? “We agree it should come in and that it is admissible.”

    Could it be that Victor and Dylan are joining forces such that if anyone takes the fall it will be Joe? Not really throwing him under the bus, per se, but looking the other way as he falls?

    • Ohio
      06/01/2010 at 1:50 PM

      Or, were they trying to intimate that if there was an intruder, it could have been Michael, to substantiate the SODD defense?

      • Bea
        06/01/2010 at 1:53 PM

        I understand that Some Other Dude Did it defense reference, but unless Zaborsky and Ward are going to cut and run leaving JOE as MICHAEL’s sole conspirator/accomplice, how does this help them?

    • Bea
      06/01/2010 at 2:27 PM

      This is bouncing around in my head – why did Ward and Zaborsky counsel NOT join the Price motion to exclude evidence re Michael Price? That they ‘think it is admissible.’ If this was a ‘gimme’ that was coming in no matter what, I could see it as showing magnanimity. But I don’t.

      Here’s the seed: if only Joe is fighting to keep out the Michael evidence, are Dylan and Victor slowly moving away from Joe? Remember Dylan and Victor’s Grand Jury testimony will be played that they delayed reporting the burglary to see what Joe wanted to do. Are they going from co-conspirators to Stepford Wives who’ve finally woken up from the trance? If nothing else, I think this move by counsel is a hint to the judge that they’re moving in that direction.

      • Bill Orange
        06/01/2010 at 5:26 PM

        I don’t really see that as an “out” for them, though. Even if both Dylan and Victor end up saying, “Joe told us to stay in our rooms the whole time, no matter what we heard,” I still can’t imagine the judge letting them walk on the current charges.

        • Bea
          06/01/2010 at 5:33 PM

          Maybe not ‘walk’ but it might be tough to convict on tampering or possibly conspiracy – though obstruction would seem dead-to-nuts if the theory you paint is correct.

          But it wouldn’t surprise me that if the trial continues to favor the prosecution, even during the defense’s case (should they choose to put one on) that we might have a plea bargain yet.

          • Bill Orange
            06/01/2010 at 6:23 PM

            Does the prosecution really need to convict on more than one charge? Are sentences for crimes like this typically concurrent or consecutive?

            • Bea
              06/01/2010 at 6:30 PM

              Hey Bill, being convicted of one charge will get the defendant less time than two or three. I think I’ve read here that while the maximum is 38 years for all three charges, I don’t know the range allowed for each (nor if there are minimums).

          • dcbill
            06/01/2010 at 6:59 PM

            I was in court today and I too was surprised when Ward and Zaborsky counsel didn’t join in the effort to exclude the Michael Price evidence. I thought, maybe they didn’t see the intruder and even if Joe knew it was Michael maybe he’s kept it a secret so that everyone could plausibly stick to the intruder theory (except for him). But if that’s the case, I don’t understand why they would throw Joe under the bus at this point. If he walks, they all walk.

            • Carolina
              06/01/2010 at 9:05 PM

              This makes absolute sense, and so little does.

      • galoon
        06/01/2010 at 5:45 PM

        I don’t think they’d try to throw Joe under the bus, but if it looks like that’s where he’s going to land….. I’m guessing they are listening to their lawyers.

        • Bea
          06/01/2010 at 5:49 PM

          Agree, galoon. As the trial wears on, the more separation there may be (like today). And if Joe senses this, there may be some personal repercussions.

          • Bill Orange
            06/01/2010 at 6:25 PM

            Joe is wound up tighter than a spring, and Victor and Dylan have been standing by him for almost four years. If he senses them trying to pull away from him, it will get very ugly, very fast.

            • Carolina
              06/01/2010 at 9:06 PM

              I’m curious as to why you think Joe is wound so tightly. He seems to still exude calm and control from what we’ve seen and heard.

    • Leo
      06/01/2010 at 6:54 PM

      I could never understand how or why Victor and Dylan would agree with Joe to cover up for that creep Michael Price. Maybe their lawyers have now convinced them that they need to separate themselves from any defense of Michael Price. It’s one thing to go down together with Joe, their partner, quite another to take the fall for Michael.

  12. New Alias
    06/01/2010 at 1:54 PM

    As stated today,Prosecution’s strategy seems to be this- narrow down the focus of the case to three simple elements: 1. Michael Price had a key, the security code and the opportunity to commit the crime, 2. Joe knew Michael had a key and would be a ‘person of interest’ to MPD so he deliberately withheld info, and 3. Joe, Victor, Dylan had to have known Michael had a key, but deliberately didn’t tell police because of their tight family bond with Joe. They are not trying to prove that Michael committed or aided in the murder, which they say they cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt. They are not trying to prove that one or more of the trouple committed the murder, same reason. All they want to show is that Joe knew Michael had the key and didn’t tell the police because they didn’t want him to become a person of interest (regardless of whether he was the actual culprit; further, that Victor and Dylan knew Michael had a key but didn’t tell MPD because of their loyalty to Joe.

    This strikes me as a safe strategy to use with a jury – a jury that might get confused as to whether or not they were supposed to find beyond a reasonable doubt that one or more of the players committed murder, instead of just obstruction and conspiracy.

    Accordingly, Prosecution — Prosecution!! — has sought to limit what evidence can examined for truth. Seriously, at one point this morning it looked like Kirschner had thrown the whole case out the window – that he was saying that the trouple’s statements on whatever happened at 1509 between the time Robert arrived and the time the first responders got to the scene was irrelevant! I may well have misunderstood this, of course. But it seemed like that’s what he was asking for, to the incredulity of the judge. She repeatedly asked him if this was really the approach he wanted to take, and then took things down to a very basic level by asking him if he understood what the term “offering for truth” meant. !!! She explained to him, slowly and clearly, that offering for truth meant that she, the judge, could consider whether the matter was truthful — and that it did not mean that the Prosecution was vouching for or conceding that those statements were truthful. She gave Kirschner multiple opportunities to back down, to withdraw and rewrite his offering, giving her more latitude to consider evidence. Kirschner, whom I’m starting to suspect isn’t very bright, kept arguing with her. He did not want to admit he had made a big blunder. At the end she all but forced him to go back, do his homework, and try again — like a teacher who is presented with a student’s essay that is so substandard that she won’t even grade it.

    IMHO, of course.

    I suspect that what the Prosecution had flagged from the statements, to the exclusion of all other evidence, were the parts where MPD asked who had keys and the defendants didn’t mention Michael.

    On a related note, Defense’s argument for excluding all evidence about Michael was that it was prejudicial. In both cases, the judge had to explain that she could tell the difference between something that is prejudicial and something that is relevant. I’m not an idiot, in other words. At one point she told Grimm (not sure if these are exact words) “I can tell the difference between Michael Price and Joe Price.”

    I have to say – Prosecution insulted the judge repeatedly by challenging her on a ruling that was in the Prosecution’s favor. Defense repeatedly insulted the judge by arguing that she would let Michael’s history of drug use prejudice her against Joe.

    • Lyn
      06/01/2010 at 3:27 PM

      Thanks for the updates. Amazing stuff.

    • Get Christie Love!
      06/01/2010 at 4:59 PM

      Doesn’t the defense contend that Joe Price DID disclose to the police that Michael had a key…in the part of the interview that the police failed to video?

      This smells like the Blackberry with the two e-mails written at 11:05 and 11:07 that they (the police) managed to return without imaging.

      • Bill Orange
        06/01/2010 at 6:28 PM

        If it’s not on tape, and the detectives won’t say it on the stand, then the only way they can make an assertion like this is by putting Price on the stand.

        I don’t believe for second that they told the police that Michael Price had a key to the house. He would’ve been interviewed that night. Joe Price was interviewed on camera TWICE and didn’t mention it. There’s absolutely no way a judge is going to believe this.

        • Bea
          06/01/2010 at 6:32 PM

          He’s asked point blank during the investigation (on video) who else has a key and he mentions contractors but not his brother. Game over on that one.

          • Deb
            06/01/2010 at 6:55 PM

            The thing I still want to see is evidence regarding WHEN Michael was given a key and the code to the punch box. That’s a pretty crucial chicken & egg question.

            Bea and Ben, you guys are way more familiar with the tomes contained within this site and may have previously seen something on that, but I haven’t stumbled across it so far.

            Help? And thanks!

            • DavidR
              06/01/2010 at 10:14 PM

              I read that when Michael robbed the place he set the alarm off and when the company called he gave them the password. So was the code changed or did Michael ever even have it? He did not need it on the night of the murder as the alarm was not on.

    • BenFranklin
      06/01/2010 at 5:05 PM

      Kirchner is not very bright. He’s a former Washington-Lee football jock. It’s not a fair match with opposing W+M & UVA scholars.

      I’m holding off speculation until the defense has a chance to present their case, but I expect a knockout sucker punch on this “key” issue.

      • Bea
        06/01/2010 at 5:09 PM

        My dog, and it’s key that he is quite the knockout, eats suckers and drinks punch!

  13. BadShoes
    06/01/2010 at 1:56 PM

    I also don’t see how the prosecution can argue that Michael Price confronting Det. Russell-Brown shows “consciousness of guilt.” Wouldn’t “consciousness of guilt” lead a guilty person to try to avoid coming to the attention of police?

    however, demonstrating over-the-top rage to a homicide detective doesn’t seem like a smart move under any circumstances. If Det. Russell-Brown didn’t know anything about Michael Price before, she would likely be asking questions afterwards.

    Joe Price brought up his brother’s name unprompted three times during his recorded interrogation, gratuitiously telling police that his brother was gay, HIV positive, used to beat him up all the time, had struggled with drug addiction, and was prone to sell anything when he needed the money. Why?

    It appears that it was the actions of the brothers Price themselves that made Michael Price first look like a possible suspect to the police. And that is just another of the many puzzles in this case.

    • Carolina
      06/01/2010 at 9:11 PM

      I suspect the prosecution may plan to show other examples of Michael behaving this way when he was guilty.

  14. Nora
    06/01/2010 at 2:13 PM

    Happy Birthday, Robert! There are so many here who miss you. Hopefully you will soon receive the gift of justice.

  15. Cecily
    06/01/2010 at 2:22 PM

    Did I read this recap right? Is Zaborsky expected to cut a deal today? I hope so this will be wonderful news. Hopefully we can get some sort of truth out of this situation.

    • Bea
      06/01/2010 at 2:31 PM

      Cecily, where did you get that?

  16. Cecily
    06/01/2010 at 2:32 PM

    From the 1:15 update . . .it now appears that the prosecutor and Zaborsky counsel Tom Connolly may hammer out some sort of agreement and/or understanding during the 90 minute lunch break.” That’s the way I interpret the statment.

    • Bea
      06/01/2010 at 2:39 PM

      That’s about whether particular statements are offered ‘for the truth’ or not.

    • superstadtkind
      06/01/2010 at 3:00 PM

      Not so.

      “At 12:30pm, downstairs tenant Sarah Morgan was about to take the stand for what Kirschner called “lengthy” testimony, but the lunch break was called, ostensibly to allow Kirschner and Connolly to talk about statements. Kirschner said he hoped to “make more clear, or clear for the first time,” how they would be submitted.”

  17. Mush
    06/01/2010 at 2:36 PM

    My impression was that the agreement was about what statements would be accepted “for truth.”

  18. Cecily
    06/01/2010 at 2:38 PM

    Oh, well I thought this was too good to be true but it does seem like there might be cracks in the defense solidarity so who knows it’s not over until it’s over. Thanks for the insight!

    • Mush
      06/01/2010 at 2:40 PM

      But how I wish you were right, Cecily.

      Happy birthday, Robert. I miss you.

      • christy love
        06/01/2010 at 4:55 PM

        After reading the Washington Post article from today, no deal is coming, they are probably going to get off. The prosecution sounds like they have no idea what happened. Depressing.

        • Bea
          06/01/2010 at 5:06 PM

          I have no idea how you got that from today’s Washington Post article. Everything today was a prosecution ‘win’ motion-wise. I agree that nothing suggests any plea bargains, but what specifically are you referring to that the defendants are going to be acquitted? Having the Michael Price info be admitted (and the defendants’ counsel showing some disagreement) is huge in my opinion.

          • Carolina
            06/01/2010 at 9:14 PM

            I think Christie may be a previous poster with a new, lovelier name and a side approach.

        • Timeline
          06/01/2010 at 5:22 PM

          Right. The prosecution freely admits that it has no idea how Robert Wone was murdered. (Or, at least, it admits that it doesn’t have enough evidence to prove any of the many ideas it might have…)

          Why doesn’t the prosecution know what happened that night? Because (according to the prosecution) the defendants obstructed justice — tampered with the evidence, making it impossible for investigators to do their jobs and figure out what happened. If anything, the fact that the prosecution doesn’t know what happened to Robert Wone may actually HELP their obstruction case. This is not a murder trial. It is obstruction and conspiracy. The prosecution doesn’t have to prove what happened to Robert Wone; they only have to prove that the defendants tampered with the crime scene, is lying about the sequence of events, etc.

          I think the way the prosecution laid it out today is the most compelling way I’ve seen it framed so far. Even IF the defendants’ story of an intruder and how they came to discover Wone’s body and contact 911 is all completely true, the prosecution alleges that Joe may have feared Michael Price was the intruder/murdered and thus began the coverup. Very interesting.

          • Bea
            06/01/2010 at 5:30 PM

            Interesting post, Timeline. Bizarre to consider that if it had been an unknown intruder (don’t believe it for a second, but let’s just say) then Joe’s assumption that it was his brother Michael may end up putting the defendants in the slammer for these charges. That Joe & Co. covered up for who they believed MIGHT be Michael is conspiracy/obstruction/tampering nonetheless.

            But I still believe Joe/Joe&Dylan are far more involved than this.

            • christy love
              06/01/2010 at 5:40 PM

              Ok, I feel better now. It just didn’t “sound” good when I was reading it.

            • Timeline
              06/01/2010 at 10:03 PM

              Oh, absolutely agreed that all three Joe/Dylan/Victor are in this up to their eyeballs. No idea who did what exactly, but I don’t for a second think that ANY of those three believe the intruder BS. I was just impressed how it seems the prosecution laid it out so clearly today: for the obstruction charges to stick, doesn’t matter who killed Robert Wone. If one or more of the defendants did it, there’s motive for the coverup to save themselves. If they didn’t do it, their own suspicion that the intruder was Michael Price is motive for the coverup to save Joe’s brother. Motive is there no matter who killed Robert.

              I don’t believe that ANY of the three truly believe an entirely unknown, unnamed, unidentified intruder randomly broke into their house that night. And I don’t think Michael broke into their house and acted alone in the murder. But even if either of those fantastical scenarios IS true — they still tampered with evidence and hampered police from conducting their investigation.

  19. CDinDC (Boycott BP)
    06/01/2010 at 2:40 PM

    Even though there is all this talk of Michael, you can’t convince me he acted alone (if he acted at all). There is no way that Robert could have been attacked in that shoebox and no one else heard or saw. There would have had to have been more than one person to carry out that horrible crime.

    • Bea
      06/01/2010 at 2:59 PM

      CD, I agree. But in THIS trial, the murderer could be a phantom, so long as the three defendants tampered, obstructed, conspired. I think the prosecution knows they don’t yet have the goods for a murder conviction but the Michael stuff is quite helpful in causing a break within the trio – and I suspect Michael was involved at least tangentially (though agree he’s not the ‘mastermind’ nor possibly even a primary actor). Anyway, the prosecution may be dumb like a fox – knowing that a conviction HERE is their best chance of someone breaking rank and getting a murder conviction. For all we know, there is an agreement that if this trial goes poorly that one/more will roll on the other(s).

      I do think it’s meaningful that Ward and Zaborsky’s counsel took a step away from Price’s counsel today – and, frankly, while all conspirators are liable for each other’s crime, if this means one of the lesser actors roll, great.

      • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
        06/01/2010 at 3:19 PM

        Thanks Bea.

        Seems to me the motive to commit conspiracy/tampering/obstruction of justice is very simple. Because one or more of the defendants is involved in the murder.

        Today has been quite interesting, to say the least.

        • Bea
          06/01/2010 at 3:25 PM

          Agree. And that M Price burglary that I suspect was done to show that the house was easily broken into may be the strongest evidence that Joe Price & Co. were willing to put the law second to Michael Price. Whether M Price had anything to do with this, I don’t know.

          • mia
            06/01/2010 at 3:46 PM

            Agreed. I had the same doubts.

          • BadShoes
            06/01/2010 at 4:32 PM

            The trouble with the hypothesis that the burglary was intended to show the house was easily broken into is that–the house wasn’t broken into. Michael Price had a key.

            If I understand the prosecution’s view of the story correctly, Mr. Hinton reported his car stolen. When the car was found, the trunk was full of consumer electronics from Swann Street.

            It was only at that point that the defendants were trapped into admitting to the police that Michael Price had a key/codes to Swann Street. (Joe Price’s failure to mention the key–an omission revealed by the burglary–is one of the prosecution’s overt acts. If the burglary was a ploy, it backfired badly.

            It seems to me that we yet another example of an impulsive act, based on a misjudgment(in this case, Mr. Hinton’s patience) that ended badly.

            • CC Biggs
              06/01/2010 at 4:37 PM

              I don’t think the burglary was a ploy. It makes no sense to set this up with Michael as the burglar if part of reason the housemates engaged in conspiracy and tampering was to PREVENT suspicion being drawn to Michael. In other words, the burglary focused the spotlight on Michael, which is what the housemates were trying to avoid! No way it was set up.

            • Bea
              06/01/2010 at 4:51 PM

              Regardless whether the burglary was a set up, clearly Zaborsky and Ward testified that they didn’t immediately report the burglary because they assumed Michael Price was the culprit and they wanted to wait to see what Joe wanted to do.

              Doesn’t much matter if it was a set-up or not – why Zaborsky was seen smiling about it could mean a number of things, including that his brother-in-law’s stupidity knew no bounds. Who knows.

              But the Grand Jury also has Zaborsky NOT having turned over to police a “mea culpa” email from Michael Price.

              • BadShoes
                06/01/2010 at 5:11 PM

                Where is the account of Messrs. Zaborsky & Ward’s grand jury testimony? I missed it, somehow.

            • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
              06/01/2010 at 5:13 PM


              When Michael Price was arrested with Louis Hinton’s car, they found a crack pipe. The electronics were found later on at the pawn shop. Here is some text from a news article about the break in. Also, it was posted here quite a while back by a resident on Swann Street that the defendants were seen outside talking and seemingly in a good mood while waiting for the police after the break-in. It appears the defendants reported the break-in, the police subsequently searched the area pawn shops, found the electronics, nabbed Collins who pawned the items, who then told the police how he got into the house (with a key from Michael Price).

              From WaPo 11/17/06:

              “A burglary at a Northwest Washington townhouse has drawn the attention of D.C. homicide detectives investigating the unsolved slaying of a prominent lawyer three months ago at the same address.

              Police have arrested a 36-year-old man in the burglary of the house, which was unoccupied during the break-in Oct. 30. Authorities quoted the man, Phelps Collins, as saying that he got inside with help from a friend — the brother of the townhouse’s owner.

              Detectives have not drawn a connection between the break-in and the stabbing of Robert Wone on Aug. 2, but homicide detectives have been looking into the burglary in hopes of uncovering potential leads, authorities said. Wone, 32, was stabbed in the chest while visiting friends at the home in the 1500 block of Swann Street NW, on the edge of Dupont Circle.

              New details about the burglary emerged through interviews, court papers and testimony at a hearing for Collins this week in D.C. Superior Court. Collins was arrested last Friday on a burglary charge.

              Police said Collins told them that the friend, Michael Price, had a key to the house because it belonged to his brother, Joe Price. Police also quoted Collins as saying that Michael Price turned off the alarm once the two men entered the house. About $7,700 worth of electronics were stolen, police said.

              Michael Price has not been charged in the burglary. He could not be located to comment.

              After the break-in, detectives went to nearby pawnshops and found an audio system, two DVD players and other stolen goods, which led them to Collins, authorities said. Police also found a CD changer in a search of Collins’s home on Calvert Street NW. Collins sold other stolen items on the street for money or drugs, they said.

              Joe Price, a lawyer at a Washington firm, told police that he did not know Collins but that he had heard of him through his brother, according to an affidavit filed by police to get the search warrant for Collins’s residence. Joe Price also told police that “his brother is known to use drugs and hang with subjects who use drugs on a regular basis,” the affidavit said. Price told police that he did not give his brother or Collins permission to enter his house or remove and sell his property, the affidavit states.

              Collins was jailed after his arrest and has been moved to a halfway house pending more hearings. His public defender declined to comment.

              The Swann Street homeowners — Joe Price and Victor Zaborsky – – were on vacation at the time of the break-in, police have said.

              Joe Price, Zaborsky and another man, Dylan Ward, were in the home when Wone was killed there, police said. Wone, a lawyer for Radio Free Asia, worked late that night and was staying at the house instead of going to his home in Oakton. His body was found on a sofa bed in a guest room.

              Police have offered no motive for the killing. Joe Price, Zaborsky and Ward have said they did not see what happened. They have said they believe Wone was killed by an intruder who slipped in and out of the back door without notice.

              Until the break-in, police expressed doubt about the intruder theory. There was no sign of forced entry, the killer used a knife from the kitchen, and the crime scene appeared to have been cleaned before officers arrived, police said.

              Investigators have convened a grand jury and enlisted the help of the FBI in the homicide. They kept control of the $1.2 million house for more than three weeks after the killing, removing flooring, pieces of walls, a chunk of staircase, the washing machine and sink traps in a search for blood and other evidence.

              Although he is not charged in the burglary, Michael Price also faces legal trouble. He was arrested in Silver Spring hours after the break-in, accused of stealing a 1998 Mercury Sable belonging to his domestic partner, who had reported it stolen. During the arrest, Montgomery County police found a “broken glass pipe,” the kind that often is used to smoke cocaine, in the pocket of his sweat pants, according to charging papers.

              Collins, who is unemployed, has a criminal history that includes four drug convictions between 1998 and 2004 in the District and Montgomery, records show.

              Authorities said some items taken in the burglary turned up at Sam’s Pawnbrokers on 14th Street NW, a few blocks away.

              Sam Levy, a manager at the store, said in an interview that Collins had pawned goods at the shop in the past. Detectives visited the store last week to retrieve the items.

              Levy said a detective whom he declined to identify told him that the burglary is ‘connected possibly to a homicide.’ “

              • BadShoes
                06/01/2010 at 7:18 PM

                Okay, thanks CD. Proving, once again, that I shouldn’t rely on my memory.

                This account makes it harder (for me) to form any definite opinion about what might have been intended and by whom.

                • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
                  06/01/2010 at 7:27 PM

                  Myriad details, BadShoes. LOL The devil’s in ’em, too!

      • Get Christie Love!
        06/01/2010 at 5:09 PM

        “For all we know, there is an agreement that if this trial goes poorly that one/more will roll on the other(s).”

        Really? How would this work? That some sort of understanding between defense attorneys and prosecutors would exist, contingent on the outcome of this trial? Is that ethical? Am I misunderstanding?

        • Bea
          06/01/2010 at 5:13 PM

          You are misunderstanding my point. I’ve long speculated that Joe, for example, may have promised Victor, for example, that if there is a guilty verdict – or better yet, that if it looked like a guilty verdict was imminent – that he’d tell the truth or that Victor would be free to seek immunity and ‘roll’ on the others.

          Whether that’s the case, I don’t know, but it’s possible that this is why Victor has kept his mouth shut thus far (can’t imagine being willing to face 38 years in jail to save someone else, be it a partner or a brother-in-law). Of course, I would be concerned that Joe would not follow through.

  20. cjh78
    06/01/2010 at 2:56 PM

    Anyone know what time court begins on Friday, and what time one should line up to get a seat? I am interested in taking the day off to watch and listen.

    • Nelly
      06/01/2010 at 7:38 PM

      Court usually begins at 9:45am or 9:50am. The judge typically tells everybody the day before. It’s not totally packed anymore, so if you get there by 9:15, 9:30am, you should be able to find a seat.

  21. Bea
    06/01/2010 at 5:01 PM

    ARRGGH – the 5:00 update is painful! You Eds. are big teases! What did Sarah say?

    • NYer
      06/01/2010 at 5:18 PM

      I myself felt a bit like Craig played us like a piano with that painfully terse update! Thankfully, my commute home will take up much of the time between now and 7 pm…

  22. gertiestn
    06/01/2010 at 5:21 PM

    That update is more than painful, but I think I won’t go any further in describing it.

    I’m also curious about the Sarah Morgan person. Please tell us someone somewhere has her picture…

  23. des
    06/01/2010 at 5:47 PM

    I really would like to know how and if Sarah and the defendants interacted outside the courtroom. That hallway is very small.

    • christy love
      06/01/2010 at 6:15 PM

      Me too! Also, I would like to know how the defendants treat the editors of this blog, or if there has been any interaction. Surely, the defendants must know who they are by now.

      Just wanted to say, I have followed this case since the first thread appeared on Datalounge years ago. I started reading this blog since it’s inception. Things like this make the internet valuable and the world small. I love we can all put our heads together. I hope the prosecution has someone reading it everyday. I almost emailed Glenn Kirschner what someone posted last week to help out, lol, then I thought, I better leave him alone.

      • 06/01/2010 at 10:04 PM

        I’ve been right there, too, since the first week it was posted at DataLounge. The DL troll-dar could link me to hundreds of posts on this tragedy. For the first two years, it seemed we were the only ones paying attention to this case. The guys who run this website have done a fantastic job.

  24. tassojunior
    06/01/2010 at 6:57 PM
  25. tassojunior
    06/01/2010 at 7:09 PM

Comments are closed.