5:00pm update: Adjournment
Lots happened this afternoon but the rain started and lightning has been spotted. The TV guys folded their tents and I’m going to find a dry place too and bang out the wrap. It should hit around 7:00pm-ish.
The afternoon session began with expected spirited cross of Bryan Waid, the MPD lead detective on the case.
Zaborsky counsel Tom Connolly was up first and he did his best to pick apart any failings in the investigation Waid was heading up. He first dove into the necessity of interviewing witnesses seperatly, suggesting the Thomases were done in tandem.
AUSA Pat Martin was in his feet with constant objections, most of them being sustained against Connolly’s formation and foundations of his inquiries. We learned that Waid interview EMT Jeff Baker at least twice. Then things got wierd.
Connolly introduced a defense exhibit, photos from the August 16, 2006 edition of the Washington Post. We’re not sure what the headlines were, but Judge Leibovitz glanced at it and said, “I didn’t know Hezbollah had anything to do with this case.” Some much needed laughter followed.
Connolly asked if it was SOP to take pictures of any witness or suspect injuries. It is. He then asked about one of the WaPo photos and if he saw any injuries on Zaborsky’s hands. Martin objected, sustained.
Then we got the first second mention of MPD Officer Diane Durham’s involvement in the case. Based on a August 17 interview with Waid, she said she was the one who first turned on the patio lights at 1509 on the night of the murder.
We heard that when Detective Lewis climbed up the patio trellises in his canvas of the backyard, no vines were damaged either. That may have neutered the Waid contention about how he inspected the trellis and saw no damage.
We also learned that bikes were stolen from the backyard of 1509 in 2008, and that both the perp and bikes made it over the fence twice. Another Swann Street burglary took place via the alley too.
Then things got weirder. Tom Connoly played a video of he and two others scaling the fence at 1509.
More on that later and more on Grimm’s aggressive cross of Waid and the videotapes of Sarah Morgan’s MPD interviews in which she tells detectives how bad the crime was in her former neighborhood.
1:30pm Update – Lunch Recess
The morning session continued with more playback of the defendants’ videotaped statements; Zaborsky’s was next and the interview was conducted by Detective Waid. I’ll summarize, so please read along with the transcript. Zaborsky told of the night’s events:
Coming home from Dulles, going to the gym to see Price, dinner with the steaks being interrupted by news that his son lost a tooth and got the training wheels of his bike taken off, watering the plants, making the guestroom bed with Ward, watching Project Runway, the Sudafed & Unisom, going to sleep around 11:00pm, being awoken by a “low breathy grunt,” the discovery of Robert and his 9-1-1 call.
Waid asked him how an intruder might scale the back fence. Zaborsky guessed using the Beemer as a launch pad. That was it for that twenty minute portion.
Waid retook the stand and Pat Martin quizzed him about his return to 1509 on the afternoon of the 3rd and the further processing of the scene and his follow on innvestigation of the home, inside and out.
Waid said he saw no signs of disturbance in either the patio or parking area; the delicate plants and trellis vines were not disturbed, no footprints in the planters or dirt and that no cobwebs on the trees or on either side of the fence, one attachedto the shed appeared broken.
Waid told Martin about the BlackBerrys (Robert’s and Ward’s), and the home and office PC of Price’s that was seized. Aside from Robert’s device, Waid said all the other ones were analyzed by the Secret Service and results were returned to him. He was not asked, nor did he volunteer what the results were.
Martin next asked Waid what else he did as part of his investigation to follow up on whether the crime was the work of a known or suspected burglar or other criminal, in other words, efforts he made to chase down the intruder theory.
Waid said he alerted his colleagues at MPD, in particular the Robbery and Burglary squad, the narcotics team and put the word out for others in the department to work their street sources. None of those efforts turned up any leads.
Of the latent fingerprints recovered from the guestroom, one on the other nightstand and one of the window sill, were compared against known prints in the criminal database and no matches came up. Martin’s direct was complete.
Judge Leibovitz called for a recess from 12:50pm – 1:00pm, and the triple cross of Detective Waid is expected to start when the afternoon session begins.
The morning session got underway at 10:00am with MPD lead Detective Bryan Waid retaking the stand.
The first order of business was further playback of the videotaped interviews conducted by the MPD in the early morning hours after Robert’s murder. A portion of Ward’s tape was played with Waid conducting it.
Waid’s style differed significantly from his colleagues Wagner and Norris’ heavy-handed approach. Waid came off as freindly to Ward, easy going, understanding and more of an advocate rather than an inquisitor.
At one point Waid took a call and excused himself from the drab interview room. The camera was trained on Ward, seated in the corner, his legs together and ankles crossed. At times Ward’s head was buried in his hands. Minute after minute went by with no motion in the room, reminiscent of the experimental Warhol film, Sleep.
Next up on the big screen was Price’s interview Waid and that was followed by a portion of Detective Brian Kasul’s interview with him.
Again, watching these tapes if far different from reading the weighty transcripts. Some lines are easily passed over while reading them, but when heard, some tend to stand out. In particular, Price’s unprompted remark to Kasul, “We had no chance after the cops got there, that we could get together with our stories.”
9:00am Update: The Robin Givhan Edition
Today’s session kicks off with the continued direct of MPD Detective Bryan Waid.
At the close of business yesterday, AUSA T. Patrick Martin was walking him through his first recollections and observations from his inital walk through and canvas of the crime scene at 1509 Swann. The defense cross of Waid could get feisty.
Longtime case watchers will remeber that it was Detective Waid that signed the original Dylan Ward affidavit back on October 27, 2008.
Other government witnesses we still expect to see include another friend of Robert’s from the W&M Tribe, Jason Torchinsky, and retired FBI G-MAN and blood trace expert, Robert Spaulding.
Catch-22: There was some comment overnight about Tara Adams Ragone’s emotional and powerful testimony yesterday, and the fact that she was not asked about Joe Price’s ‘Catch-22’ email that he sent her about a year after the murder. The email was first reported in Harry Jaffe’s Washingtonian Magazine opus on the case.
We’ve seen the email in its entirety, and while the language is indeed curious, it does not reveal a smoking gun at all. Like much of what we’ve seen in this case and trial, Price’s email to Ragone was plenty ambiguous, and it did not come off as an admission of anything, let alone guilt.
The difference between Ragone’s testimony and Sarah Morgan’s was stark. Ragone could not share enough; she was confident and forthright, while Morgan, although emotional too at times, seemed halting, cautious and hesitant. Morgan came off as one who’s still clearly playing for the home team.
Stringers: Also in the comments, we’re seeing some first-person reporting of the sessions. We ask that anyone who’s in court and wishes, to introduce themselves and maybe kibitz with us in the hallway a bit during the breaks. Don’t be surprised if you walk away with a writing assignment, however.
While on the subject of trial reporting, we’ve falling behind somewhat in updating our media page with the links to some crackerjack reporting over the past few days. The local TV affiliates, Post, City Paper, Examiner, Washingtonian continue to turn out every day that court is in session. We’ll update it soon.
Yesterday, an item on the trial even turned up in Human Events (at one time Ronald Reagan’s favorite publication) of all places. And speaking of the Right, it was mentioned in the comments last week that National Review’s Jonah Goldberg posted something on the trial. If anyone has that link, please send.
Hazy, Hot and Hopsack: We’ve spent so much time in the Moultrie courthouse that the attorneys are all starting to look alike, save for Bernie Grimm of course. Inside room 310 yesterday, it was hard to tell the difference between AUSA Glenn Kirschner and Victor Zaborsky counsel Tom Connolly. Both were smartly turned out in nearly matching summer suits. But when it comes to courtroom attire, maybe WRC-TV’s Pat Collins has the best idea, cargo pants.