Catch-22 @ 1509

“Well, he died.  You don’t get any older than that.”

Tara Adams Ragone, a close friend of both Robert and Joe Price from William and Mary days, testified last Wednesday.   Her testimony was loaded and her credibility seemed solid.

Herself a lawyer, Ragone chose her words carefully.  Her many words.  She challenged the court reporter like no other witness in this trial.   Unlike the cool and reluctant testimony of Sarah Morgan from earlier in the day, Ragone was hot and engaged.

With lengthy but crisp responses she told the court of her emails and phone calls with Price in the days, weeks and months after the murder.  Two calls she testified about made headlines: the first on June 6, four days after the murder, in which Price said he “removed” the knife from Robert’s chest, and the other call nearly two weeks later in which he drew a distinction between “wiping up some blood,” and crime scene tampering.

But it was what didn’t  come up in AUSA Glenn Kirschner’s questioning that surprised case watchers: Price’s “Catch-22” email to her. 

Portions of this email, which Price wrote at the one year anniversary of the murder, first appeared in Harry Jaffe’s Washingtonian feature.  The full text and that of another email, just days after the murder, follow.

We’re uncertain of the exact date of this email, but it followed the one year anniversary press conference at Covington and Burling that saw Kathy Wone and future Attorney General, Eric Holder speak.  Price seemed to have been feeling the heat that came from the very pointed at direct remarks that were delivered there.

“Tara,  Just thought I’d follow up now that the anniversary has passed.  I have to say that I was not prepared–in any way really–for the tone or substance of Kathy or her lawyer’s comments as they related to us.  It is so very frustrating to know that she is being misled and not be free to tell her all we know about the investigation.

It is a true catch-22.  The police get to accuse us of not saying all we know but we are not allowed to fully respond for fear that they will retaliate by arresting one of us.

Based on what we know of the investigation it seems they were just so sure right from the get go that that one of us did it, they never bothered to EVER investigate the possibility of an intruder.  Now that their theory that it was one of us has not panned out they are doing their very best to cover up from the Wones and the public that they never bothered to pursue the intruder theory.

Sorry to rant, you have been so dear to let me unload. I pray that one day we will be able to talk candidly with Kathy and Robert’s folks about this whole ordeal. Love,  Joe”

Ragone also testified about another email exchange she had with Price in the immediate days after Robert’s murder.  This email was brought up in David Schertler’s cross examination of her last Wednesday afternoon.  Schertler seemed to have used this to show what was once Ragone’s closer bond to Price by using her supportive words.  In the Wednesday post, we were unable to quote it precisely; here is the complete text:

“Please, please give them hugs from us.  I can’t imagine how you are coping.  This is a nightmare (like you needed me to tell you that).  When and if you ever feel like talking, please know I’m here.  But I’m sure you’re sick and tired of talking, at least for now.

I’m really glad you have an attorney in this.  I don’t want to malign police officers.  I know they have a difficult job, and I want them to exhaust all possibilities.  But when they have no leads, they can twist the most innocent of statements.

I know you want to be forthright and helpful, and you will be.  Just protect yourself, too. Love, Tara

The recipients of the hugs were not to be Price’s housemates as we incorrectly reported last week.  Ragone was extending her best wishes to the Wone family, who Price would be seeing later that day.

Ragone was one of two William and Mary friends of Robert and Price that we expect the prosecution to call at trial.  The other is Robert’s longtime friend and former roommate, Jason Torchinsky, who also spoke at the Covington press conference.

In Jaffe’s piece, it was reported that Torchinsky took a call from Price just days after the murder, and was asked if Kathy Wone was willing to waive her attorney client privileges regarding her earlier interview she had with investigating detectives.  The wagons appear to have been circled around the Wone family, by the W&M Tribe.

-posted by Craig

95 comments for “Catch-22 @ 1509

  1. Elizabeth
    06/07/2010 at 10:52 AM

    “I pray that one day we will be able to talk candidly with Kathy and Robert’s folks…” Unless you are involved in ways that require you to be less than candid, what would prevent you from telling everything you know to everyone, police, family, friends, to further any investigation and help solve this crime?

    • New Alias
      06/08/2010 at 6:18 PM

      Oh for pete’s sake, why didn’t they introduce that letter?

      “The police get to accuse… but we are not allowed to fully respond for fear that they will retaliate by arresting one of us.”

      That sounds an awful lot like Joe declaring in his own words that he is not fully responding to MPD. He indicates the information he is withholding relates to MPD’s suspicion of him and his family (perhaps he was implying it would clear them). I don’t know what he means, if anything, by “not allowed” – surely his attorney would not advise him to obstruct justice.

  2. Bill Orange
    06/07/2010 at 11:02 AM

    “I pray that one day we will be able to talk candidly with Kathy and Robert’s folks about this whole ordeal.”

    I confess that I don’t really understand this statement. He met with Kathy right after the murder. He spoke at the funeral. He met with Kathy again later on to give her a stack of e-mails from Robert. He’s had multiple opportunities to “talk candidly” with Kathy. It reminds me of one of those politicians who gets caught with his pants down and then does a dozen interviews saying that he’ll be exonerated when he has a chance to tell “his side of the story”. What’s stopping you? If you have something to say, then say it.

    • Kate
      06/07/2010 at 11:10 AM

      Agree, Bill O and Elizabeth –

      Therein lies the rub … the Catch-22 rub.

      • Clio
        06/07/2010 at 12:03 PM

        To which diety is he praying in that passage? Apollo? Bacchus? Shango? Buddha? Vishnu?

        I think that Culuket does much more preying than praying, but, with the greatly increased scrutiny of the continuing scandal, coming to Jesus may not have been such a bad media strategy after all.

        Thanks, Detective Wagner, for suggesting that to Joe.

  3. Hoya Loya
    06/07/2010 at 11:11 AM

    Now I get why the “Catch-22” email was not used by the prosecution. In context, Joe is clearly saying he can’t tell all he knows “about the investigation” — in other words, his criticisms of the alleged failure to investigate the intruder theory — in fear that they’ll be arrested in retaliation for speaking ill of the police. Either Jaffe or his editors left out the first paragraph that gives the context — very misleading.

    There is a loose end from that article that I find tantalizing — Tara had a conversation with a friend who insisted “There was no intruder.” Who was the friend and why was she so sure? Jaffe just drops it.

    • NYer
      06/07/2010 at 11:17 AM

      It is tantalizing, but my guess that it’s nothing more than speculation on the unknown friend’s part, thus not deserving much more attention than a mention.

      • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
        06/07/2010 at 11:52 AM

        Personally, I think the smallest leads deserve serious consideration and attention by the MPD. For a blogger to cast it aside because they feel it nothing more speculation is one thing, but the MPD should never do that.

        But then again, we don’t know that they DIDN’T follow up on it.

      • Hoya Loya
        06/07/2010 at 12:03 PM

        It’s fascinating to me because this conversation was shortly after the funeral, long before the Ward affidavit became public, which is when many friends turned against Joe. What was the basis for this person’s conclusion I wonder?

        • Bill Orange
          06/07/2010 at 3:25 PM

          You can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

    • Lyn
      06/07/2010 at 12:49 PM

      Under your interpretation of the email’s context, in what way could the trouple have “fully responded” and how had they “partially responded?”

      • Hoya Loya
        06/07/2010 at 12:55 PM

        My take: The police accuse the defendants of not telling all they know — Joe would like to fully respond/retaliate by saying “and you’re not investigating the intruder” but instead feels limited to the partial response of saying “but we’re cooperating.”

        • Lyn
          06/07/2010 at 1:25 PM

          I think Price has made it clear to police that he believes they weren’t investigating the “intruder” angle. I think he has made that more than clear on many ocassions. So I’m still not sure the context meant that he couldn’t do that. Why would he say he couldn’t, when he already had.

          I can definitely see how his defense team would make the argument that Price was referring to the police’s investigation, but it’s the words “fully” and “all we know” that makes me think he meant “tell the police all we know.” If he was referring to the investigation only, what did he “partially” tell the Wones?

          • Lyn
            06/07/2010 at 1:29 PM

            Based on Holder press conference, it seems that Mrs. Wone already knew the police didn’t think there was an intruder and that the trouple were somehow involved. I’m sure she also knew there was no evidence of an intruder or of forced entry.

            So if Mrs. Wone already knew the police were focused solely on the trouple, how would Price be revealing anything knew to her by telling her “all he knew,” which basically would be Price saying “they are only investigating us”?

          • Hoya Loya
            06/07/2010 at 4:02 PM

            It’s the juxtaposition — the statement is prefaced by “It is so very frustrating to know that she is being misled and not be free to tell her all we know about the investigation.” And remember, this is more than a year before the indictments.

            The Catch-22 is essentially “the police get to talk trash about us but if we publicly trash their investigation in self-defense they’ll arrest us out of spite.”

            “All we know” implies that Joe & co. know about mistakes and missteps in the investigation that the police are keeping from the Wones.

            That’s how I parse it and my guess is the prosecution did the same, since they didn’t go there during Tara’s direct.

            • First Time Reader
              06/07/2010 at 4:11 PM

              Of course, one other interpretation is that by this time the defendants all had lawyers who were busy trying to show that their clients played no role in the murder or trying to establish an alternative theory. Maybe Price is just saying that the police did not try to jump over the fence the way the attorneys did (with or without pork loin). Price may be saying that he cannot tell the Wone family what their lawyers have told them about without interfering with attorney-client privilege (a topic with which Price is very familiar).

              A little off topic, but did Price ever produce a list for the police of everyone with a key to Swann Street or not? I am a little confused on this score.

          • Carolina
            06/07/2010 at 5:20 PM

            My question is, why would Joe *not* go to the Wones and tell them the MPD was botching it? Surely Kathy would want to know; anyone would prefer to think a stranger rather than a long time friend had murdered their loved one.

            It would make far more sense for him to approach Kathy, because through her she could have Holder bring pressure to bear on the investigation. This is exactly what she did, only by that time that pressure was focused on the Trouple.

            Basically, Joe seems more full of crap every time he opens his mouth.

            • New Alias
              06/08/2010 at 6:21 PM

              Yes. You are exactly right.

    • mia
      06/07/2010 at 4:19 PM

      Sorry but has to disagree your interpretation. why he mentioned “arresting ONE of us” specifically? why not “ALL of us”?

      • Hoya Loya
        06/07/2010 at 4:42 PM

        True, but he also says “they were just so sure right from the get go that that one of us did it.”

        • mia
          06/07/2010 at 7:27 PM

          But he’s implicating that they were going to be arrested not because of the actual murder but if they tried to criticize the police (which he did repeatedly as a matter of fact ). So even the police thought “one of them” was responsible for the murder, it was irrelevant to the potential arrest he’s talking about here.
          Furthermore, if he truly believed that the police would go that far to mess up a lawyer on such a high profile case (which, as we could prove, never succeed), what made him to believe they would only arrest one of them? Isn’t it more convenient to put them all in jail and shut them up all at once? I just don’t get his logic here.

  4. NYer
    06/07/2010 at 11:14 AM

    Agreed Bill O- also interesting is that he states that his main impetus for silence in this “catch-22” is the fear of arrest. Well, the arrest has already been made. As noted, if there is something to be said, then say it…

  5. Bill Orange
    06/07/2010 at 11:28 AM

    I know that a lot of people last week were complaining about the lack of any substantial “bombshells” from Sarah Morgan and Tara Ragone. I think people were missing the point of having them testify. It was the prosecution’s way of saying that even the defendants’ closest friends don’t think they’re telling all that they know, and if they don’t take the stand themselves, then even their friends are going to conclude that they’re guilty. I don’t think that this tactic is going to have any sway with this judge (though I think it would’ve worked on a jury), but I do think that it’s going to put a lot of psychological pressure on the defendants to testify.

    • Clio
      06/07/2010 at 12:13 PM

      Well, Tara did confirm Mr. Hixson’s expected testimony about Joe’s preening as hero. That is a bomblet, if not a bombshell.

      And, if Culuket does like center stage and – of course – he does, then, by all means, let us “pray” that he is now “allowed to fully respond” by both his advocate and his (former?) titular dom. It’s showtime, Joe!

      • New Alias
        06/08/2010 at 6:23 PM

        “Well, Tara did confirm Mr. Hixson’s expected testimony about Joe’s preening as hero. That is a bomblet, if not a bombshell.”

        Huh? I missed this entirely. What’s it about?

        • Clio
          06/08/2010 at 10:53 PM

          NA, Ms. Ragone said that Joe told her that he pulled the knife out of Robert — just like apparently Culuket’s dear old f-buddy, Mr. Hixson. Isn’t that special?

  6. CDinDC (Boycott BP)
    06/07/2010 at 12:04 PM

    “It is a true catch-22. The police get to accuse us of not saying all we know but we are not allowed to fully respond for fear that they will retaliate by arresting one of us.”

    It seems to me that Joe says this as if his logic should be completely understood by the recipient of the email. To me, that is the frightening thing about this….he seems to think this is okay.

    This says clearly to me that he is obstructing justice.

  7. Nyer Wants Justice
    06/07/2010 at 12:52 PM

    “Well, he died. You don’t get any older than that.”
    What is this line at the top of the post referring to?

    • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
      06/07/2010 at 1:12 PM

      Thanks NYerWJ…I was wondering myself.

    • AnnaZed
      06/07/2010 at 7:56 PM

      That is Capt. John Yossarian a character in the film of Joseph Heller’s book “Catch-22.” I don’t recall if Yossarian says that exact thing in the book, but it is a famous scene in the film.

  8. commonsensewillprevailihope
    06/07/2010 at 2:28 PM

    creepy thing to have put at the heading of this email; the editors are obviously generally empathetic toward the wone family but they fall in to the cutesy disrespectful at times.

    • NYer
      06/07/2010 at 4:55 PM

      I have previously been torn on this issue. A few weeks back, I myself was not particularly fond of the “Get the Red Out” theme/post, but later realized that it’s similar to the argument that has been well-made have later made about the appropriateness of humor in the courtroom, which the Judge herself has partaken in. The Eds. explained their own position about joking w/ Bernie Grimm so articulately, and it goes without saying that they have done so much hard work to advance the cause of the Wone case (with this website as the ultimate testament), that they have ultimately earned a pass with me. But I understand your discomfort.

      • commonsensewillprevailihope
        06/08/2010 at 1:02 PM

        The key issue to me, is that Robert (and his family) were in no way public figures, and did not seek to be public figures. So this whole trial is a further invasion of their privacy but obviously needed and important and ultimately useful to them, but they shouldn’t be subject to the same standards of casual humor and crass speculation as say, Michael jackson, or such, who spent a career pursuing the spotlight.

  9. Craig
    06/07/2010 at 2:41 PM

    Luciana: But he was a boy.
    Yossarian: Well, he died. You don’t get any older than that.

    • Bill 2
      06/07/2010 at 3:01 PM

      Joseph Heller’s classic novel “Catch-22” never made my reading list so I googled the two names. Now your heading makes sense. Thanks, Craig, for all your work on this website.

      • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
        06/07/2010 at 3:15 PM

        Had to google it, as well, Bill2. LOL Can’t read every classic, can we?

        • Bill 2
          06/07/2010 at 3:32 PM

          It’s good to know I wasn’t alone in this, CDinDC. I guess I was doing Euripides and Sophocles instead of Heller. We’re a very diversified group posting on this forum.

          • Clio
            06/07/2010 at 8:31 PM

            I adored the quote, Editors.

            On a very side note, aren’t “the great books” the curriculum at St. John’s, the place from which Dyl’s kid brother graduated in 2006? As you may recall, readers, the trouple apparently attended either his graduation and/or graduation party that year, just months before the murder. Was this particular brother the one who was the last official houseguest at Swann before Robert’s death?

          • AnnaZed
            06/07/2010 at 9:08 PM

            Joseph Heller spoke at my University in the very first week of my freshman year (which tells you that I am old I guess). I was hugely excited. Then he basically told us that we were all too immature to even learn or to understand anything really important and that we should go get some sort of life experience and come back in ten years.

  10. Bill Orange
    06/07/2010 at 2:56 PM

    “Based on what we know of the investigation it seems they were just so sure right from the get go that that one of us did it, they never bothered to EVER investigate the possibility of an intruder.”

    I think it’s been clear from the evidence so far that the police did, in fact, consider the possibility of an intruder. They flat-out said in their interviews that they checked the back patio and found no evidence of anyone jumping the fence, much less any evidence of forced entry. They checked the house to see if anything was missing. They put the word out to other police to see if there was any chatter about the murder. They even made sure that Michael Price had an alibi. They might not have tried very hard, but they DID consider the possibility.

    Furthermore, they knew “right from the get go” how Dylan Ward performed on his lie-detector test. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that he didn’t do very well.

    • Lyn
      06/07/2010 at 3:11 PM

      And what investigative steps does Price expect to the police to undertake when there is no evidence of an intruder (no fingerprints, no witnesses, no footprints, etc)? Put out a press release asking the “intruder” to turn himself in?

    • Bob
      06/07/2010 at 8:01 PM

      Anyway, a ninja would not have vaulted the fence. Ninjas traditionally use climbing rope. That would have left footprints on the top of the gate. Also, the ninja would probably have left the rope behind so as to make the quickest possible escape. There wouldn’t have been any fingerprints on the rope because the ninja would have worn gloves, to improve the grip on the rope and to avoid ropeburn on the descent.

      Alternatively, the ninja might have picked the lock. Ninjas are not normally burglars, but they can use burglar tools. However, if the lock had been picked, that would have been evident.

    • Elizabeth
      06/07/2010 at 9:10 PM

      Why do you think Dylan agreed to take a lie detector test?

      • AnnaZed
        06/07/2010 at 9:13 PM

        I have often wondered that myself. Maybe he didn’t have any part in assaulting and murdering Robert (only the cover-up) and thought that would be enough to sail him through.

      • Carolina
        06/07/2010 at 9:55 PM

        Because he knew it was inadmissible? We still don’t know if he passed or failed.

        • avidLurker
          06/07/2010 at 11:19 PM

          because a psychopath has no problem passing a lie detector test…which is just one reason why its inadmissable

        • Bill Orange
          06/08/2010 at 12:29 AM

          He’s on trial for not telling the truth. I think we can guess how he did.

  11. liam
    06/07/2010 at 2:59 PM

    Yossarian: Is Orr crazy?

    Dr. ‘Doc’ Daneeka: Of course he is. He has to be crazy to keep flying after all his close calls he’s had.

    Yossarian: Why can’t you ground him?

    Dr. ‘Doc’ Daneeka: I can, but first he has to ask me.

    Yossarian: That’s all he’s gotta do to be grounded?

    Dr. ‘Doc’ Daneeka: That’s all.

    Yossarian: Then you can ground him?

    Dr. ‘Doc’ Daneeka: No. Then I cannot ground him.

    Yossarian: Aah!

    Dr. ‘Doc’ Daneeka: There’s a CATCH?

    Yossarian: A catch?

    Dr. ‘Doc’ Daneeka: Sure. Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat isn’t really crazy, so I can’t ground him.

    Yossarian: Ok, let me see if I’ve got this straight. In order to be grounded, I’ve got to be crazy. And I must be crazy to keep flying. But if I ask to be grounded, that means I’m not crazy anymore, and I have to keep flying.

    Dr. ‘Doc’ Daneeka: You got it, that’s Catch-22.

    Yossarian: Whoo… That’s some catch, that Catch-22.

    Dr. ‘Doc’ Daneeka: It’s the best there is.

    • Kate
      06/07/2010 at 5:40 PM

      Many thanks, Liam – I haven’t read that in years. Still has bite today, doesn’t it?

  12. Nelly
    06/07/2010 at 3:06 PM

    You mean “August 6” not June 6th.

    • Lee
      06/07/2010 at 4:42 PM

      D-Day or Hiroshima?

  13. NYer
    06/07/2010 at 5:13 PM

    One thing- your theory does not address the sexual assault aspect of this case. Although, for all intents and purposes, that angle is not relevant now, how do you account for the semen discovered on Robert’s body?

    • rivetted
      06/07/2010 at 5:40 PM

      And, if this were the case, why the needle marks on Robert’s hands and feet, and why is there no evidence of any defensive moves? I doubt that Michael would impulsively kill someone in his brother’s house just because he was surprised while trying to rob something.

      • KKinCA
        06/07/2010 at 11:50 PM

        I assume this thread is in response to someone’s theory about Michael killing Robert after coming upon him unexpectedly during a search for drugs in the guest room (although for the life of me, I can’t find the original comment). I have 2 contradictory reactions to that theory:
        1. As rivitted said above, why would Michael kill someone who was clearly a guest of the trouple? Given that Joe has bent over backwards to save Michael’s a** his whole life, a little thing like burglary of a house to which he had keys shouldn’t be a problem – Joe makes a ridiculous excuse for his brother, apologizes to Robert, and they all go back to sleep, after Joe slips Michael some $ to buy the drugs he needs. And does Michael have a history of violent crimes on his rap sheet? My only recollection of his alleged violence is in Joe’s interview when he described getting beaten up by Michael as a child.
        2. I have read here that Michael had a MAJOR drug relapse following Robert’s death. Maybe the relapse started prior to that, and on August 2nd he was either crazy on drugs, or in withdrawal and desperate to get his hands on the drugs presumably located in the guest room – thus the eruption of violence when Robert was discovered. [this assumes the drugs were amphetamines, crack, crystal meth, or some other substance that can increase violent tendencies] But that doesn’t make sense given the nature of the stab wounds and the otherwise uninjured condition of Robert’s body, as I would think that a crazed addict would not be so organized and clinical in his fear/rage/frustration.
        Again I come to the realization that nothing here make sense.

        • Elizabeth
          06/08/2010 at 12:36 AM

          I have said this before, so forgive me. Why would Michael, who has a key, be looking for drugs, or anything, in the guest bedroom at night? Why didn’t he look earlier in the day when everyone was at work? If you’re Jonesing for a fix you plan this stuff.

          • KKinCA
            06/08/2010 at 2:22 AM

            Addicts are not very good planners. He may have used up all he had in his possession, had no money and knew where he could find the stuff (at no cost). When you’re jonesing for a fix you do whatever you can to get it.

  14. Just Wondering
    06/07/2010 at 5:15 PM

    Can the prosecution compel Michael Price to testify (by subpoena)? Why wouldn’t they try, even if the defendants would object on relevance grounds or otherwise?

    • Carolina
      06/07/2010 at 5:25 PM

      OF course they can. He’s not been charged.

      • NYer
        06/07/2010 at 5:31 PM

        But that begs the question. They can try to make him testify but MP would likely invoke his 5th Amendment rights if they call him to the stand, correct?

        • Carolina
          06/07/2010 at 9:58 PM

          It would be delicious if he chose to do so. It can’t be held against him, but it surely can’t make him look good.

          • NYer
            06/08/2010 at 10:12 AM

            yes- it reminds me of something I saw on TV (I can’t remember what it was) where this politician is called to the witness stand, and, in answer to about a dozen questions that the lawyer poses to him, the politician pleads the Fifth each time…

            • New Alias
              06/08/2010 at 6:28 PM

              I believe you’re thinking of Absence of Malice, starring Paul Newman and Sally Field.

  15. Lyn
    06/07/2010 at 5:30 PM

    Under this scenario, is Wone awakened or not?

    If he is awakened, I’d imagine that Wone could overpower M. Price in a struggle prior to M. Price being able to suffocate Wone. I’d also imagine there would be some scratches/marks on Wone’s body from the struggle and that there wouldn’t be needle puncture marks.

    If he isn’t awakened, do you really think it is likely that Wone would have gone to sleep with the blanket and sheet positioned in the manner they were found (turn down at a 45 degree angle with Wone on top)? And wouldn’t Wone have reacted/struggled the moment his breathing was cut-off by a pillow, thus causing a struggle and disturbing the bed?

    And in either case, wouldn’t three stab wounds have caused more bleeding than that found on the bed, especially considering that the back of Wone’s shirt was covered with blood?

    • Lyn
      06/07/2010 at 5:37 PM

      Oops, this was intended to be a response to “emg on 06/07/2010 at 4:28 PM ” under “State of Sleep.”

  16. deduce
    06/07/2010 at 5:30 PM

    this is the basic scenario that makes any sense out of this senseless, horrific mess. I also wonder if Michael has something on any or all of them, perhaps unrelated to the murder, or related to the items in question, that would also cause serious trouble for them. This would explain why they’re going to such great lengths to cover for him — not just out of co-dependence or whathaveyou, but self interest as well.

    • Leo
      06/07/2010 at 6:41 PM

      Given everything I’ve read on the three defendants, including reading their statements, and listening to Joe’s very boring 30 mins of “oral history” for the gay lives project at William and Mary, I just can’t see any of them being a vicious murderer.

      So like others posting above I’ve also been trying to imagine what could compel them to cover up evidence relating to the murder if they or one of them did not commit it.

      It’s hard to see why anyone but Joe would be loyal to Michael the bad seed, even given others’ interesting psychological portraits of the power some people have over others. So what is there that the three believe they have to hide, that’s even worse than being arrested and indicted for obstruction etc? What could that be? Drugs, other crimes, embezzlement, what? I imagine being charged with incapacitating Robert and sexually assaulting him might seem worse to them than being charged with obstruction and tampering.

      So they hide evidence that might lead to identification of the murderer, even though it’s not one of them, because that evidence would also implicate them in the sexual assault. Still no clue why Michael or someone else murdered him.

      • DonnaH
        06/07/2010 at 7:25 PM

        You don’t need to see them as “vicious murderers” to conclude that they did indeed stab Robert, under the misconception that he was already dead due to OD’ing on the drugs they gave him. Rather than being convicted for killing him with drugs, they decide to make it look like he was the victim of a violent street crime and dump his body somewhere. Victor’s scream brought about a change in plans. (See May 5 Wrap, posts by Leonard, 10:12pm, and Plumskiter, 10:40pm, and subsequent threads for one development of such a scenario.)

  17. JAG
    06/07/2010 at 5:31 PM

    They can compel Michael Price to testify, but not compel him to incriminate himself. 5th Amendment.

  18. Danali
    06/07/2010 at 7:30 PM

    Wasn’t it earlier speculated that Joe may be referring obliquely to his “maybe the black guy in the alley did it” theory- when he complains that he can’t tell all he knows because the cops don’t want to hear it?

    He posits this theory in his typical ham-handed fashion during his conversations with white cops (though would not repeat to or in front of black cops)?

    Maybe I’m mismembering the particulars- but that earlier speculation made a lot of sense to me and seems consisent with the duplicitous and ‘victimized’ person of Joe one finds in reading the transcripts.

    • Carolina
      06/07/2010 at 10:07 PM

      That was me, trying to fathom what Joe might have to say that would result in the police extracting revenge for what was said. At least two of the defendants– Joe and Dylan– seem to have race issues as illustrated by Joe referring to “the black man in the alley” and Dylan calling one of the police officers “that black woman.”

      I can’t imagine that playing well to any AA juror, nor can I see either of them having the balls to say it to an African American officer’s face. In their white bread world, I’m sure they believe it would result in the (black) police targeting them unfairly.

      I am NOT saying that is what I believe Joe meant. I was merely trying to consider what *might* have been going through his head.

      • Elizabeth
        06/08/2010 at 1:15 AM

        Is it racism or could it merely have been meant as a description – i.e. “the blonde one” or “the tall guy who lives in the alley?”

        • DonnaH
          06/08/2010 at 1:27 AM

          Regarding “the black man in the alley,” I recall it was said by Joe in the context of suggesting who the intruder might be (perhaps in his interview). But I remember reading (sorry, don’t remember where on this site) that the black man he referred to had been living for years in a van parked on a neighbor’s lot, with their permission. If I recall correctly, it was said he liked to drink, but was regarded in the neighborhood as a harmless fellow, never caused any problems. Hardly a ninja, hence the overt absurdity–and seeming racism– of Joe’s suggestion.

          • New Alias
            06/08/2010 at 6:32 PM

            Further, Joe had already told the police about that guy – so it can’t be the information he’s holding back. And if one thinks he meant telling the media rather than MPD about his special theory, he could have had a friend do it for him.

    • Josh
      06/07/2010 at 10:09 PM

      Loya, I’m amazed at your credulity. To my ear, every word of Joe’s e-mail shrieks “pathological liar.” He stakes a claim that seems plausible for two seconds but on examination is absurd. If you challenged him, he’d spin another version in a trice.

      Let’s get this straight. Joe knows something about the case that he is keeping secret. It would prove his innocence and that of his friends. But if he reveals it, the the police and prosecutors–who apparently do not want to solve the case, and who have no ethics or professional pride, and who are accustomed to conspiring malignly–will bring charges against Joe or Victor or Dylan, even while knowing them to be innocent, just out of spite.

      And, as a corollary, even though Joe’s secret info would help lead to the real killer, the authorities apparently don’t want to find the real killer. Why? Apparently, unsolved high-profile murders in middle class neighborhoods, and killers on the loose somehow redound to the benefit of the DC police or other authorities.

      Can’t figure out how? Get an interview with Joe and he’ll weave you an explanation that will seem plausible for a moment–at least insofar as each sentence will have a subject and predicate and begin with a capital letter and end with a punctuation mark.

      • Hoya Loya
        06/07/2010 at 11:55 PM

        I’m not opining on the credibility of what Joe is saying in the email, just analyzing what I think he was trying to express to Tara and noting that in the context of the entire email, the “Catch-22” statement reads differently than when the opening section is omitted as it was in Jaffe’s piece (where it sounded more like “they’ll arrest us if we talk”). It’s just my opinion and everyone is free to interpret differently.

        But if it really is a party admission, which seems to be the majority view, why didn’t the prosecution use it?

      • CC Biggs
        06/08/2010 at 12:39 AM

        I read Price’s email as simply saying that he and his housemates are aware of deficiencies in the police’s investigation, but he can’t go public in critcizing the police becuase then the police might retaliate against him. I don’t think that argument has merit, but I think that’s what Price is trying to say in his email. (For a law firm partner, Price is a very bad writer.) So there is no “secret info that would help lead to the real killer.” The info he is referring to relates to flaws in the police investigation.

        • Josh
          06/08/2010 at 12:54 AM

          Loya, it’s not an admission. Its a pathological lie. CC, there is no reason for him to “go public.” It is only a question of telling Kathy what he purports to know, so that she won’t suspect him et al. The cops needn’t know what he has told Kathy. If there is really something to it, she can “go public.” The authorities aren’t going to arrest her. And if you want to say that telling something to Kathy is tantamount to “going public,” then his entire e-mail is a case of “going public” against the police. This is why I call it pathological. If you take it apart, it makes no sense whatsoever. But it has a patina of reasonableness that fools many people.

          • Bea
            06/08/2010 at 1:18 AM

            Josh, I tend to agree that this entire email exchange (like many other things Joe communicates) may be pathological lies. But I agree with Hoya’s assessment that the preceding paragraph to the ‘Catch-22’ lingo makes it far less damning than was reported in the Washingtonian. And my guess is that that’s why the prosecution didn’t focus on it.

            Joe’s quite adept at communicating things with a certain spin yet not falling into be admissions. Ambiguity as to meaning likely comes easily to him as (my guess, again) he’s been doing it long before August 2006. It may well be his ‘way of being’ in the world (and thus pathological as you say).

            Joe wanted to circle his W&M wagons to provide a party line they (collectively and individually) could believe in, and he reached out to the stragglers in the herd like Tara when he grew alarmed. I thought perhaps it was just what he did with everyone (his law partners, his neighbors) but I think this particular group’s ties to Robert made it more important to him. I think the thinly veiled hostility to Kathy Wone comes through (he’s nearly contemptuous that she’s being ‘fed’ information) and it seems to me that he’s made it into a contest of sorts – which team are you on? Of course, this only occurred after he’d realized that he couldn’t persuade Kathy to be in his corner.

            • Bea
              06/08/2010 at 1:19 AM

              Bad form to reply to myself, but it’s an addendum – does anyone know if the email exchanges were entered into evidence and that Judge Leibovitz can ponder them on her own time?

              • Goose
                06/08/2010 at 8:13 AM

                Yes, I believe they were.

  19. Danali
    06/07/2010 at 11:22 PM

    Thanks for that, Carolina. FWIW, I think it’s a pretty good theory.

  20. christy love
    06/07/2010 at 11:39 PM

    They should have shut-up from day one, whether innocent or guilty. The police are not your friend, they aren’t there to chit-chat. They don’t need to know you burnt steaks or came home early from a business trip or watched project runway. They should have lawyer-ed up immediately, whether innocent or guilty.

    If I saw what the perp looked like, I would have called my lawyer, gave him a written statement of the perp’s description, and said contact my lawyer with further questions, get to work and good luck. Yes, it’s cold, but I know how the police work. If I’m guilty, I’m keeping my mouth shut and let you do your job. No one comes to my job and helps me do my work. If I’m innocent, I don’t know nothing, so I’m keeping my mouth shut. I don’t care how guilty I look.

    • Bill Orange
      06/08/2010 at 12:27 AM

      Um, no. Innocent people try to do everything they can to help the police when someone turns up dead in their guest bedroom in the middle of the night. Innocent people do NOT answer the door and say, “The body’s upstairs. My lawyer will call you in the morning to let you know what happened.”

      • KKinCA
        06/08/2010 at 2:37 AM

        Bill O – I agree with you. I would bend over backwards to summon both medical and police assistance ASAP (after locking myself in a safe place), cooperate with police by telling them everything I know to help find my friend’s murderer, and to determine how my home had been broken into. If at some point I am identified as a suspect, that is the only time I would exercise my right to counsel. I know it’s easy for me to say this hypothetically, but I really can’t imagine being fearful of taking these actions if i were truly innocent.
        Christy Love – The police can’t make anyone “look guilty” if a person of interest exercises their right to remain silent. That may be the ignorant attitude/judgment of society, but the police are not responsible for that.

      • christy love
        06/08/2010 at 10:46 AM

        “Innocent people do NOT answer the door and say, “The body’s upstairs. My lawyer will call you in the morning to let you know what happened.””

        If they know what’s good for them they will. We can all agree to disagree.

        • New Alias
          06/08/2010 at 6:36 PM

          “If they know what’s good for them…” Actually, this sounds like the ideal way to self-identify as the prime suspect.

          • christy love
            06/09/2010 at 1:10 AM

            And like the police you jumped to conclusions. If I would have kept my mouth shut….

            point proven. lol

  21. christy love
    06/07/2010 at 11:44 PM

    It’s awful convenient for the police to say “you have the right to remain silent” but make everyone look guilty if one exercises that right.

  22. Finn
    06/08/2010 at 12:03 AM

    Sorry if this was covered already – haven’t been on here in a few days.

    Did anyone else think it was strange that Joe uses the phrase “intruder theory” in his email? If it was MY home that was broken in to & someone was killed, I’m not sure I’d be using the word “theory.” If he really doesn’t know who killed R.W. then it was an “intruder” – and not a theory.

    Sincerely, Major Major

    • Bill Orange
      06/08/2010 at 12:23 AM

      It sounds like something a sixth grader would say when something in the house ends up broken.

      • Carol
        06/08/2010 at 12:24 PM

        As Joe is a lawyer, it is not particularly strange that he used the word “theory.”

  23. Goodrock
    06/08/2010 at 2:28 AM

    This is a law school prof and former defense atty speaking on why you should never talk to the police, especially if you are innocent.

    I am no defender of Price and company, but as an atty he would have known many of the points described in the link and shouldn’t be accused of guilt for exercising his rights to counsel or for not freely discussing the case with anyone.

    After all, there are so many other valid arguments to his guilt.

    • ccf
      06/08/2010 at 9:46 AM

      It happened that I saw that video a few weeks ago and it had been on my mind we when I read this blog.

      Theoretically, I agree that we should not speak to cops. However, if I had a good friend who was killed in my house by an intruder I would at least initially cooperate. The intruder might be targeting me as well. I would also get a lawyer, especially if I sensed that the authorities were not convinced of my story.

      As for the Robert Wone case, I don’t believe the defendants were accused of guilt because they exercise their rights to counsel or for keeping silence. They were accused because their behavior and statements were not truthful. At least to me.

    • DCGuy
      06/08/2010 at 2:17 PM

      When they were being interviewed the night/morning of the murder, were they read their rights. I think I recall something about the defense trying to suppress their police statements on the grounds that they weren’t read their rights. It seems to me that at some point things went from an interview to an interrogation. Are you required to be read your rights if you aren’t being arrested?

    • New Alias
      06/08/2010 at 6:55 PM

      This guy sounds like he’s on drugs. IMHO, of course. Also, he uses a lot of circular logic, and he’s primarily talking about clients who are guilty.

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