3:15pm Update: Adjournment
At 2:46pm, the government rested their case in US v. Price, Ward and Zaborsky.
This followed a 45 minute questioning of Dr. Lance Becker, by AUSA Glenn Kirschner. The defense passed on cross examination.
A full wrap to the day’s activities hits around 5:00pmET
1:15pm Update: The Long Lunch Break Edition
The balance of the morning was spent on housekeeping and not the government’s rebuttal witness, Dr. Lance Becker.
It seems that Becker missed his train out of Philly by four minutes, but was able to catch the next one. Deputies are to meet him at Union Station and will whisk him to Moultrie for his testimony, now scheduled to begin at 2:00pm, after the lunch break.
Nearly ninety minutes was spent discussing and hammering out the remaining stipulations and exhibits that will be entered. Zaborsky counsel Tom Connolly succeeded in getting one admitted to the record, the broadcast of Nightline from the night of August 2, 2006; specifically the portion between 11:45pm and 11:52pm.
What’s up with that?
It seems the defense thinks there may be another woman’s voice from the broadcast that government witness Mr. Thomas may have mistaken for WJLA’s Maureen Bunyan. Leibovitz agreed to having it entered and she will listen to it, but it won’t be played in court.
Ward counsel David Schertler had a list of exhibits he wanted entered, most of them supporting documents that included books and articles that were referenced in Douglas Deedrick’s testimony. For the government, AUSA Rachel Carlson Lieber agreed to most if they end up being properly redacted.
One of Schertler’s exhibits is still undecided, the MPD’s PD-251, the police report of the bike theft from 1509 Swann that occurred in 2008. The government objected on grounds of relevancy and substantive content; double hearsay, too.
Schertler is leaning on a ‘business record exemption’ to have Leibovitz rule it in bounds. She said she needed a hearsay justification: “These are garden variety and bread & butter hearsay areas,” she told Schertler. He brought up a 1975 circuit court case, US v. Smith and gave a copy to the judge to help her decide.
Price counsel Bernie Grimm worked hard to have the judge make a missing evidence instruction, for herself of course, on the missing MPD radio transmissions from the night of the murder. Grimm contends the defense was unable to really drill down with a clear event chronology, because officers’ arrival and departure times at both Swann Streen and the VCB are inconclusive. Months ago we learned that these transmission were deleted by the MPD well after the murder and were unable to be produced.
Leibovitz agreed that, “…the record is full of inconsistencies,” but that Grimm did not establish a Jencks violation and therefore no sanction is in order. She will not instruct herself to consider the absence of that piece of evidence in determining MPD witness credibility.
At 12:17pm, aside from one exhibit disagreement regarding Joe Price, to be worked out over lunch, the defense officially rested their case. The trial reconvenes at 2:00pm with Dr. Becker.
NOTE: A clarification on EMT Weaver’s testimony. It seems she did recall that her partner Jeff Baker attempted to place an IV in Robert’s neck. The attempt was noted in her trip report, however, the location was not specified. In her report, she noted the attempt with a “U,” to denote it was unsuccessful.
Earlier updates follow.
The morning kicked off with a very brief redirect by Bernie Grimm of DC EMT, Tracy Weaver. The upshot is that her recollection is of her partner Jeff Baker trying to insert and IV line into Robert’s neck. But on review of her report, there is no mention of that unsuccessful attempt at all.
Now the headline: Thursday will see the closing arguments. Judge Lynn Leibovitz has given each party one hour for their closes. Ward counsel David Schertler and his colleague Robert Spagnoletti will split their allocated time. The government will also have an extra half hour for a rebuttal close.
Shortly before the break, Leibovitz did a Boyd inquiry with the three defendants. All were sworn in and asked a series of questions: Did they willingly waive their constitutional right to testify? Did they have enough time to consider waiving their rights? Was the decision based on free will? Were they satisfied with their legal representation?
We are on break until 11:30am. Left on the schedule is one possible government rebuttal witness, Dr. Lance Becker from the Center for Resuscitative Science in Philadelphia.
Becker is en route to DC by way of the Acela and is expected to take the stand around 12:00noon. During the break, government and defense counsel are meeting to discuss and finalize pending stipulations and exhibit lists.
9:00am Update: The Molto Moultrie Edition
The trial is rapidly reaching its conclusion, just as DC’s first real heatwave of the summer sets in.
A final defense witness, EMT Tracy Weaver, has her cross by prosecutors this morning, and then we expect to see the return of Douglas Deedrick as a rebuttal witness.
The talk is that closing arguments could come as early as Thursday with the increasingly impatient Judge Lynn Leibovitz not inclined to give the legal teams a mid-week day off to prep their closes.
Or Thursday will be dark and Friday is the wrap. Then again, who the Hell knows anymore. Isn’t one last flurry of paper required? Statements of fact / law?
What’s surprising is the chatter that says Leibovitz is nearly locked and loaded to render her verdict, almost immediately. Though it sounds like a bold prediction, we’ve heard her decision could come down as early as Monday.
Always Mostly wary of idle courthouse gossip, we try to keep in mind the old DC saw, “Those who say don’t know and those who know don’t say.”
The trial reconvenes at 9:45am. Watch this space for update throughout the day.