Day 22: BREAKING

BREAKING:

The Wone trial officially ended at 4:59, Judge Leibovitz expects to issue her verdict Tuesday at 11am, pending any changes. 

Wrap coming soon

3:15 Update – Who’s Under the Bus?

Bernie Grimm, for Joe Price, and Thomas Connolly for Victor Zaborsky have finished their statements.  It was a study of contrasts.

Grimm focused only evidence tampering, in what might be termed a scattershot presentation.  “The government says the only truthful thing he said was that he pulled the knife from Robert’s body.  If he pulled the knife out, that’s proof it was the murder weapon,” he said in a strong flourish.  He also suggested that three college educated men could surely create a stronger lie to throw the police off the track other than an unseen, unheard and unlikely intruder. 

Tom Connolly began at 2:40 and wrapped at 3:05 – the only one so far to come in on time (or under.)  “I understand the frustration of people for the lack of clear answers in this case.  Mr. Zaborsky shares that,” he said, his voice rarely raising past a near whisper.  Victor Zaborsky “…is a kind and gentle person,” he said at the top, and the end, and throughout, suggesting there is absolutely no evidence of Victor having any knowledge at all of what happened. 

There was an interesting moment of separation, characterized by Leibovitz as “…throwing (your colleagues) under the bus…”  But we are heading in now for the remaning statements.  That, and more, in our final wrap post. 

Earlier updates follow.

 

1:45 pm update

Doug and Craig are back in the courtroom, but I was there with Doug this morning, and wanted to fill in with some observations as we wait for the next update.

As the defendants walked in, the family members of the defendants were seating in the first row behind the well were the defendants are seated.  As the defendants entered, Dr. Needham Ward stood and gave a hearty handshake, first to Joe Price.  It was lengthy and looks like words of encouragement were exchanged.  Then he shook his son Dylan Ward’s hand, and finally Victor Zaborsky’s hand.  The rest of the family including Victor’s family remained seated.

More observations follow.

When Glenn Kirschner began his closing argument, which was very strong at the beginning, he went right to the human reaction one would have when finding a close friend stabbed, and that would be to immediately check to see if your (other) loved one, who was just down the hall, was OK.  At this point, Diane Ward, Dylan’s mother broke out crying uncontrollably.  Tissues were exchanged.

Glenn went on to say that this human reaction on checking on your loved one, in this case, Dylan Ward, and whether they had also been injured, belies the fact that the story they are telling does not add up.

When describing  the conspiracy, GK focused on what he calls “the Mercedes meeting.”  This is after the defendants had been interviewed at the VCB, and immediately afterwards when Price and Zaborsky gathered in the Mercedes owned by Scott Hixson. 

Kirschner describes Price as now being in his a comfort zone, that being a Mercedes owned by Hixon, who was a “neighbor and paramour”  and he changed his story on the knife — from removing it to pulling it out of his chest.

Kirschner then showed clips from the video taped confessions and contrasted what Victor said about the knife before the “the Mercedes meeting” and afterwards.  Before the Mercedes meeting, he described in detail the knife and Robert’s body position.  Detective Gail Brown drew out Victor’s observations, and VZ confirmed. That describition changed after the “the Mercedes meeting” with Victor now being confused about not seeing the knife, and how the body was positioned.  This Glenn Kirschner said was evidence of the conspiracy and obstruction. — David

1pm Update – Shouts and Murmurs

Time is clearly relative in a courtroom.  Kirshner’s :10 minutes turned into :45.

Kirschner again began strong, to show how evidence points to specific findings of fact as to their guilt.

The burglary was introduced to show state of mind “…of how the three respond when a member of the family commits a felony.  They circle the wagons, and use law enforcement selectively for their own purposes,” he stated.  “It informs the court how the defendants conduct themselves…they minimize, try to protect, and exonerate.”

Regarding Price, “a decision had to be made.  Either sacrifice the responsible party, or protect a family member, and they jumped on the conspiratorial train.”  Later, “Maybe Zaborsky joined kicking and screaming, but there was a certain naiveté and willingness to jump on the conspiracy bandwagon because he wasn’t going to break the Joe Price bond.”

“Without holding together, there was mutual destruction for everyone,” he said.  Kirchner said the evidence was clear: Victor had a deep, abiding love for Joe, and would protect him, and Joe had a very deep and abiding love “…and an all-consuming relationship…” with Dylan.  Dylan’s loyalties?   “Unclear,” said Kirschner.

At this point, Leibovitz turned from conspiracy to obstruction, engaging in a vigorous colloquy with Kirschner.  Throughout the morning, Judge Leibovitz seemed intent on pulling from the prosecution the strongest, and clearest, possible narrative.  Speculating here, this may be a sign of a finder of fact asking the prosecution to build the strongest case of guilt so the finder of fact doesn’t have to.

“When did the conspiracy begin that night?” she asked.  “What the evidence of agreement?”  “When did each of them join, and don’t I have to find evidence of some conversation?”  Kirshcner seemed to hit his stride when hitting upon the 9-1-1 call.  Victor’s comment that “…we heard…” was proof of collusion at least, and conspiracy at worst.

Eyebrows raised in the courtroom when she asked “…wouldn’t I have to find that Dylan Ward was the killer if he entered the conspiracy?”  “Likely, though it may be that Ward was the killer…” he said, Ward showed proof of having entered the conspiracy by asking if the back door was unlocked, and by shutting down when shot glares by Joe on the couch.

This, by the way, wasn’t the first mention of killers today.  Earlier in the morning, under questioning by Leibovitz, Kirshcner all but said that one of the three of them had to be the killer.  The judge later picked this up, on discussion of what Kirschner called the “33 1/3 problem”, saying in effect, ‘You have three people in a house, four at most with Michael Price, and no evidence of an intruder.’  Ergo: one of them has to have done it.

Leibovitz returned to a theoretical posed last week with Rachel Carlson Lieber: the loving mom and two sons.  The mom finds a dead body, the sons profess ignorance and posit an intruder, the mom can’t believe one of her treasured sons did the deed, and so comes to believe their innocence.

“Is she lying?…does any omission of fact make her guilty of obstruction?” she asked.  Unspoken but clear to all was who was being referenced as the loving mom.  Hint: it’s not Joe, and it isn’t Dylan.

Legal beagles will make note of discussion of the McBride (sp?) case as possible precedent, Rule 1805 and its applicability, and whether ‘nexus’ is required.  These observers heard a judge that may be looking at two defendants in one light, and the third in a different one.

Much more to come, but two room observations.  At the beginning this morning, when Kirschner was laying with strong language the brutality of the crime and the involvement of the defendants, Diane Ward – with Needham at her side – burst into tears.  The tears continued, though Dylan remained stoic (or emotionless) throughout, as usual.

“Am I done?” asked Kirschner at 12:30?  Laughter, and an affirmative from the bench, followed by Judge Liebovitz reminder that she will limit the defense closings to an hour each.  “Of course you will,” angrily said Victor’s mother, loud enough for all to hear.

 

 

11:30am Update

After a brief, but forceful disagreement from Judge Leibovitz to a request from Robert Spagnoletti – “We’re going to have closing statements now,” she emphasized – AUSA Glenn Kirschner has held the courtroom for an hour of closing statements.

It hasn’t always gone so smoothly.  “The defendants covered up the true circumstances of Robert’s murder…they’ve successfully prevented this murder from being solved,” he began.  “They all actively participated..and they should all be held accountable….they lied, misdirected,orchestrated, tampered…”

One fact leapt out “…screams out…” for the prosecution: the defendants not checking on Ward in the moment’s after finding Robert.

However what began as a strong closing turned more into what resembled oral argument before the Supreme Court.  Leibovitz has increasingly interrupted Kirschner’s recitation of evidence, repeatedly pleading for specific facts and inferences she – as the fact finder – must make to find guilt.

 Kirschner gets :10 more minutes, no more.  He better offer what Leibovitz is asking for if he wants to finish strong.

9:30am Update

The line mob of spectators waiting to get inside room 310 is already long.  A court official tells the crowd that the seats are already spoken for – reserved for family members, press, and legal teams.  Room 100 is set up for the overflow and an audio feed will be in there.  TV trucks are outside for live shots and reporters are filing in.

We still expect a 10:00am start.

8:00am Update:  The Last Day Edition

Left to right: Zaborsky counsel Amy Richardson, Joe Price and unidentified member of the defense team

There is only one item of business on today’s calendar.  “Closing arguments will begin in ctrm 310 tomorrow at 10am” came the succinct email from the DC Courts’ Public Information Officer‏, Leah Gurowitz, confirming what we already knew.

This trial has ended.  40-some witnesses testified, under direct and cross.  Hundreds of pieces of evidence and thousands of documents were admitted for review.  Theories were floated and shot at.  Questions – on both sides – linger.

So it comes to this: one hour for the government to sum up their case, three hours (one for each defendant) to rebut and defend, and one half-hour for super-closing rebuttal from the government.

And then by close of business today, it’s in Judge Leibovitz’s hands.

…Except It’s Not The Last Day

Left to right: The Government team - AUSAs Glenn Kirschner, Rachel Carlson Lieber and Patrick Martin

We will remain on high alert from now until we get word that Judge Leibovitz has reached a decision.

We expect to get a a two-hour heads up ahead of the ruling, nothing more.  We’ll bring you immediate coverage of the ruling, and the response.

And of course, the story doesn’t end there.

537 comments for “Day 22: BREAKING

  1. whodoneit
    06/24/2010 at 3:02 PM

    “Kirschner then showed clips from the video taped confessions and contrasted what Victor said about the knife before the “the Mercedes meeting” and afterwards. Before the Mercedes meeting, he described in detail the knife and Robert’s body position. Detective Gail Brown drew out Victor’s observations, and VZ confirmed. That describition changed after the “the Mercedes meeting” with Victor now being confused about not seeing the knife, and how the body was positioned. This Glenn Kirschner said was evidence of the conspiracy and obstruction.”

    When did Victor give descriptions of the crime scene subsequent to the “Mercedes” meeting?

  2. cinnamon
    06/24/2010 at 3:07 PM

    I’m so curious about the apparent comradery between Needham Ward and Joe Price. I just don’t get it.

    • Ivan
      06/24/2010 at 3:37 PM

      I don’t get it either. I think it’s strange. He must believe JP is innocent and being victimized.

      • Vandy
        06/24/2010 at 3:39 PM

        Whatever the outcome of this case, I think Needham wants JPrice to continue to “keep” DWard so he doesn’t have to come home…I guess.

        • AnnaZed
          06/24/2010 at 3:44 PM

          I hate to laugh on a day like this, but I did get a kind of two Dads vibe from the descriptions of Needham and Joe glad handing each other.

        • dcbill
          06/24/2010 at 3:44 PM

          Maybe Dr. Ward is grateful that JP altered a crime scene and concocted a story and strategy that will keep his son out of prison.

          • Ivan
            06/24/2010 at 4:03 PM

            I was going to laugh dcbill but then I thought that could be true!

  3. Aquanetta
    06/24/2010 at 3:23 PM

    So, Im sitting around listening to Pat Benatar because all the 80’s references in today’s blog have driven me to do it. I just can’t get the lyrics of Hit Me with your Best Shot out of my head. THANKS EVERYONE !! 🙂

    Here is my question. The judge made a comment relating to the conspiracy charge stating that the assumption to be made that one was the killer. (Dammit, I can’t remember which one…but does it really matter) Is there a reason that the conspiracy charges could not be related to the other charges (ie Conspiracy relating to obstruction or tampering)

  4. AnnaZed
    06/24/2010 at 3:34 PM

    Wait! I’m going to lose my mind; who is under the bus! (finally)

    • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
      06/24/2010 at 3:36 PM

      No you aren’t! I was thinking the same thing. Who said what about whom?

    • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
      06/24/2010 at 3:39 PM

      Hmm….re-reading the eds post, Grimm and Connelly were mentioned. Must have been Dill’s attorney. Is Dylan coming to HIS senses and separating from the other two?

      • wtw
        06/24/2010 at 3:50 PM

        But Dylan’s attorney hadn’t made his closing yet, had he? I’m thinking it was Connelly the eds were referring to in the last post?

    • rivetted
      06/24/2010 at 4:31 PM

      What a teaser! Eds, please explain!! Or at least tell us when the wrap will be ready…

    • Bill Orange
      06/24/2010 at 4:42 PM

      My impression is that he was supposed to defend all three of the defendants, and he only spoke up for Zaborsky, hence the other two went “under the bus”. I think it was more of a critique of his style rather than an accusation that he was blaming the other two defendants.

      • Bea
        06/24/2010 at 4:51 PM

        See discussion with KiKi, Hoya and me regarding Connolly’s apparent agreement to address one of the three charges.

  5. CDinDC (Boycott BP)
    06/24/2010 at 3:35 PM

    ” “The government says the only truthful thing he said was that he pulled the knife from Robert’s body.”

    Who ever said that? Or is this just another one of the defenses’ gross manipulations?

    • David
      06/24/2010 at 3:40 PM

      Joe Price reportedly said this to one of the witnesses – Tara I think.

      • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
        06/24/2010 at 3:47 PM

        So, if Joe said it to Tara ABOUT the government, then it’s hearsay, right? LOL

    • ebgodard
      06/24/2010 at 3:58 PM

      I believe defense counsel was quoting a statement made this am by Kirschner about Joe during closing arguments that “the only truthful thing Joe has said is……”

      Re the “under the bus comment by the Judge had to have been in response to either Grimm or Connelly, because Ward’s counsel was going to close after the break.

      Other surprises:
      1- Connelly only took 25 minutes. I guess there isn’t much to say.
      2- Grimm focused only on tampering which is odd since it carries the lightest sentence, I think. Has he given up on getting Joe off on Conspiracy and Obstruction? If i were Joe I would not be a happy camper right now.

      • David
        06/24/2010 at 4:49 PM

        The defense strategy was the each of the counsel would take one each of the charges. Bernie Grimm focused on the tampering charge because that charge pertained only to his client, Joe Price. If Connolly did not focus on one of the other two charges, then he was not a team player.

        • ccf
          06/24/2010 at 5:38 PM

          Yes. That’s my understanding as well.

          Grimm was supposed to focus on tempering as his client is the only one charged what that.

    • ccf
      06/24/2010 at 5:41 PM

      “The government says the only truthful thing he said was that he pulled the knife from Robert’s body.”

      That could have another meaning. If Joe Price stabbed Robert, that statement would be true.

  6. ebgodard
    06/24/2010 at 3:46 PM

    The 3:15 update:
    If those were the highlights I am shocked that Grimm couldn’t come up with anything better than (to paraphrase) “if you believe Joe pulled the knife out, then that is the murder weapon”, and “these are 3 educated smart guys who would have devised a better plan. ”

    Wow! A million+ defense? Pretty weak,pretty uninspiring. Didn’t cast much doubt on Joe’s guilt with those statments.

    • Lyn
      06/24/2010 at 4:00 PM

      “these are 3 educated smart guys who would have devised a better plan”

      I agree, very weak. I call this the OJ defense because when OJ was on trial I heard many of his supporters use illogical thought processes such as, “OJ didn’t kill her. How do I know? There is no way he would have needed to use a knife and made such a bloody mess. He was strong enough that he would have just choked her to death.”

    • Liz
      06/24/2010 at 4:56 PM

      Cliche!

  7. Bea
    06/24/2010 at 4:01 PM

    “Throwing under the bus” comment in relation to Connolly’s closing on behalf of Victor Zaborsky: didn’t the three counsel divvy up the three charges (Grimm on tampering – can’t remember the other two). IF Connolly didn’t spend his time focused on the CHARGE he was supposed to cover, but on his client, did THAT prompt the Judge’s comment?

    I love me some Eds. but would love to hear what kind of questions she asked them given her grilling of the prosecution. . .anyone there who can comment?

    • wtw
      06/24/2010 at 4:09 PM

      I don’t recall reading anything about the three atty’s divvying up the charges. Makes sense though given the time constraints. And if Conolley didn’t focus on the one charge he was to cover, I’d say that’s throwing his colleagues under the bus alright. Geeze!

      • KiKi
        06/24/2010 at 4:13 PM

        Found it – leo posted it in yesterday’s updates at 2:36

        “Bea, when questioned this morning, the defense attorneys told Judge Leibovitz that they were going to split up the charges among themselves for purposes of closing–Grimm will do the tampering charge, and Schertler and Connolly will each take one of the remaining charges (they didn’t specify who will do conspiracy and who obstruction). They promised not to overlap. Schertler also asked the judge if he and Spagnoletti could divide their one hour between them, each doing 30 minutes, and again promised not to repeat each other in any way. She was adamant about one defendant’s not getting two closings and said she would be paying close attention to make sure that did not happen. So, not sure much “distancing” will occur with the closings. If it did, couldn’t one of the defendants argue for a mistrial, since the reason they agreed to a combined trial is that they have united interests? If somebody starts pointing a finger at somebody else, all he11 will break loose.”

    • KiKi
      06/24/2010 at 4:09 PM

      Thats how I took the comment Bea, That Grimm was going to do tampering Connelly would do one of the other charges and Schertler and Spagnoletti would do the third. – I swear I read that yesterday but now can’t find it.

      And if that is the case Connelly would have thrown the others under the bus by focusing on his client only.

      Interesting turn of events. (if we surmise correctly).

      • Bea
        06/24/2010 at 4:13 PM

        KiKi, I looked for it too – I’m glad you remember it because I could have sworn that was the deal. I thought at the time that it was odd given what appears to be a disparity in evidence as to the three and one could argue disparity in culpability as well (as the Judge has implied).

        • Bea
          06/24/2010 at 4:16 PM

          Can anyone find this? I know Grimm was getting tampering, but don’t recall if Connolly or Schertler/Spag had obstruction or conspiracy.

          I continue to think it bizarre that each isn’t only focusing on their client, but if that was the DEAL I could see Judge L being shocked.

          • KiKi
            06/24/2010 at 4:19 PM

            I found it – see above.

            • Bea
              06/24/2010 at 4:37 PM

              Thanks, KiKi and Leo! Wonder if Judge L meant that Connolly didn’t do what he was supposed to do as to “handling” one charge for the defendants.

              • Carolina
                06/24/2010 at 6:10 PM

                Is it possible that Connolly argued for his client and Schertler and and Spag each argue one of the two remaining charges?

                • Themis
                  06/24/2010 at 6:29 PM

                  Joe and Dylan may have potential post-conviction claims if convicted on the charge Connolly was to address. Doubt the argument would go anywhere on appeal though.

                  If an agreement was truly broken to the detriment of Joe and Dylan, there may be complaints made to the bar as well.

                  Was there any dicussion on the record about just how “joint” the defense of the trouple was going to be at the outset of the trial?

    • Hoya Loya
      06/24/2010 at 4:17 PM

      It’s consistent with his opening, but again, if there was supposed to be a division of labor . . .

      Maybe he read the judge’s “mother” questions the same way our eds did, saw a way out for his client and went for it.

      He has been impressive throughout the trial and strikes me as very shrewd. His work on the Hatfill case was truly top-notch.

    • ebgodard
      06/24/2010 at 4:20 PM

      I had no idea they were divvying up charges. I must have missed that. seems like a very bad idea. If I were in Joe’s shoes, I would not want to rely on other counsel to get me off on obstruction and conspiracy, since their responsibility is first to their own client. They would be obligated I would think to throw Joe under the bus if necessary to save their own client. What am I missing?

      Joe paid for Grimm and he gets a closing argument, which I thought Grimm was known for, only on tampering which carries the shortest sentence.

      Assume there is more clarification to come.

      • KiKi
        06/24/2010 at 4:25 PM

        Bea and I had an interesting conversation about this yesterday on Day 21 Wrap and (hopefully I am not oversimplifying) Bea had the view that Joe is still calling the shots and the other 2 are going along. My theory was that quite possibly the best defense is united we stand and that is actually the advice of counsel.

        But Connelly is smart (maybe the best of the bunch) so I would guess he knows what he is doing. I am pulling this out of you know where but maybe Connelly decided at the last minute after hearing the judge’s questions to make the best case for his client and sit his behind down.

        • Bea
          06/24/2010 at 4:39 PM

          Agree. Connolly SHOULD be paying attention to HIS client, and in my opinion that is sacrosanct. That said, WHY he agreed to “handle” a charge is bizarre. Can’t agree then not deliver. Wonder what gives?

        • Hoya Loya
          06/24/2010 at 4:42 PM

          Sounds like we agree KiKi, on both Connolly’s smarts and the move he seems to have made on behalf of his client.

          • Bea
            06/24/2010 at 4:49 PM

            Hoya, what repercussions do you see if in fact Connolly agreed to ‘handle’ one of the charges but then did not?

            • Hoya Loya
              06/24/2010 at 4:55 PM

              Don’t know if Schertler and Spag would ask (have asked?) for extra time to address it or if Bernie would be allowed a shot.

              Its possible that the deal was off in the wake of the judge’s questions this morning — though Bernie seemed to be out of the loop if so. Maybe Connolly himself figured that was a game changer and no longer obligated to follow given his primary duty to Victor.

              Maybe its just another example of “All’s fair . . .”

              • Bea
                06/24/2010 at 4:58 PM

                Makes sense. I’m wondering if he didn’t at least give lip service to the charge he was supposed to cover. Perhaps his ‘leftover’ time will be handed to one of the others. Odd at best. Wish Connolly had pulled Victor out of the united defense earlier.

              • tucsonwriter
                06/24/2010 at 5:02 PM

                Connolly’s move encourages me to think that Victor was sleeping August 2. No idea of what was going on downstairs, then in over his head.

              • Former Criminal Sex Offense Prosecutor
                06/24/2010 at 5:18 PM

                Hoya Loya in NY-

                How about: There is no honor among thieves.

                OR: Rats rarely swim towards a sinking ship.

            • Daphne
              06/24/2010 at 6:11 PM

              And remember, closing arguements aren’t “evidence.”

      • Timeline
        06/24/2010 at 4:42 PM

        If they are divvying up the charges, I suppose Grimm is the only one who CAN do the tampering charge since his client is the only one still facing that charge. If I were Price that wouldn’t be the charge I’d want “my” attorney focusing on.

        I am wondering if they split things up to appease the judge since it seems she really wouldn’t be amenable listening to 3 different attorneys covering the same ground repeatedly.

        • ebgodard
          06/24/2010 at 5:26 PM

          While I understand the judge wishes to run a tight ship, it has taken 4 years to get to trial, with untold millions of taxpayer dollars and attorneys fees spent. The objective is to get justice for Mr. Wone, and at the same time give the prosecution ample time to present its case, along with the best defense possible for 3 men who’s lives are on the line. If the reason charges were divvyed up was to save time, I think that is grossly inappropriate. Three weeks for a trial of 3 individuals is breathtaking. Three separate trials would have taken far longer.

          I also think the Judge allowing the prosecution only one hour (with 30 minutes for rebuttal)which became two because of her questioning, to set out the facts for 7 charges on 3 individuals is simply not enough time in my view. Especially since she was giving the defense a total of 3 hours( an hour each). One extra day of trial to make sure everyone had sufficient time would have been more appropriate.

          And finally I had thought we might learn much more in closing arguments regarding evidence we have not seen previously- references to e-mails, phone records, and evidence stipulated to. That does not appear to be the case. There wasn’t much here on either side, after 4 years and millions of dollars.

          • tucsonwriter
            06/24/2010 at 5:38 PM

            ebg…. from a former post you said you were a non-lawyer. I would love to have the opinion of a lawyer on this post re: undue haste.

            • Meto
              06/24/2010 at 6:04 PM

              Re: Undue Haste

              Please remember that oral argument was for the Judge, not anyone else (especially those of us on this blog). She has finished 21 days of taking evidence after countless days (weeks?) of motions and pre-trial hearings. Believe me she knows the case.

              The purpose of oral arugument is to sum up and to outline the facts, not simply speak forever. Some attorneys without time limits would do just that (some with time limits appear to do that anyway).

              So I respectfully disagree. This Judge is smart, runs a tight ship (unlike Judge Ito who sank one), knows what she is about, and tolerates fools not at all. What I saw yesterday indicated that she is ready to decide this case.

              Still she asked a lot of questions and that is a good thing for all.

              The U.S. Supreme Court hears the most important cases after many years of litigation and except in very rare circumstances, provides us 1 hour total for all parties to be heard. So her time today was generous.

              Respectfully,

              Meto

              • tucsonwriter
                06/24/2010 at 6:08 PM

                Thanks. This is really a cliff hanger. Everyone seems to have such widely divergent opinions on how the case is going.

              • chilaw79
                06/24/2010 at 6:16 PM

                I agree with that assessment. This is a smart judge who understands the law. The only thing the closing may do is to suggest a way of looking at the evidence that the judge has not considered, a reasonable inference that may be drawn from the evidence, or providing a comprehensive framework for reviewing the application of the law to the evidence presented.

                I would be very interested to hear what questions defense counsel were asked. The questions posed to the prosecutors were very pointed and seemed to go primarily to intent.

          • Daphne
            06/24/2010 at 6:13 PM

            Closing arguments are not considered evidence. It would be improper for the prosecution to refer to e-mails, etc, that weren’t offered into evidence.

            • ebgodard
              06/24/2010 at 6:16 PM

              Last week both sides met and stipulated to e-mails, timelines, phone records etc that were admitted into evidence.

            • chilaw79
              06/24/2010 at 6:18 PM

              That’s true, but there is a lot of evidence in the form of photographs, records, e-mails, and the like that counsel in the case have seen and people commenting on this blog have not. For example, there was a suggestion at one time that the hospital might have records of the amount of blood that came out of the chest tubes.

        • Rapt in MD
          06/24/2010 at 6:10 PM

          Hadn’t thought of this but bet you’re right.

    • 06/24/2010 at 4:29 PM

      Did the judge actually say “…throwing (your colleagues) under the bus…” Or is a characterization of what she said.

  8. AndJustice4All
    06/24/2010 at 4:07 PM

    As this case comes to a close, it really bothers me the one that I believe had the biggest if not the only hand (Dylan Ward) in Robert’s death is the one that I think is the most likely to be found not guilty of the current charges against him.

    However, if he is the only one found not guilty of the charges and the other two we’re actually covering for him, it is going to be mighty difficult for them to see him go free while they go to prison. I think this scenario is the one that has the best chance in resulting in one of them fessing up (most likely Victor) and murder charges being brought forth against Dylan. Victor may be the least responsible of the three but in order for justice to truly be served against the killer(s), he needs to be given a reason to talk.

    • Jo
      06/24/2010 at 7:28 PM

      What if Joe had the biggest hand in Robert’s death? My speculation is that Dylan had talked Joe into drugging Robert for their sexual experiment or exotic photo shoot but when things went wrong (either Robert started to regain consciousness or he appeared to have overdosed), Joe took charge. I speculate that Joe made the decision to stab Robert in order to silence him or cover up the OD. That’s why Joe confessed to touching the knife. Dylan wanting no part of the actual stabbing, retreated into his room and later refused to even enter the guest bedroom.

      If the drugging and sexual assault was Dylan’s idea, he would have a very good reason to go along with the cover up. Joe, being the attorney and the alpha male of the family, could easily convince Victor that if he wanted to protect his way of life and the “family”, they all had to stick together and tell the same story. Victor probably went along because Joe convinced him that as long as they stick together, they would be acquitted and they could go back to life as usual.

      Now that the window to cut a deal for Victor is closing, I don’t know if we will ever hear the truth. I doubt that Joe or Dylan will tell the truth since I believe they are both deeply involved in the events leading upto Robert’s murder.

  9. AnnaZed
    06/24/2010 at 4:15 PM

    Damn Bernie, is that all you got?
    Seems like even you think your client is guilty.
    I hope that Joe is getting some sort of professional courtesy discount.

    • Ivan
      06/24/2010 at 4:26 PM

      My sentiments exactly.

    • Former Criminal Sex Offense Prosecutor
      06/24/2010 at 4:52 PM

      AnnaZ-

      You remind me of that joke, the one that goes like this:

      3 men go deep sea fishing, one of them is a lawyer.

      A big wave kicks up & the lawyer is washed overboard into the water.

      After a minute, he is pushed out of the sea by a crowd of sharks, safely back into the boat.

      Seeing this, one of the men then remarks to the other with a knowing nod, “Professional Courtesy”.

    • Nelly
      06/24/2010 at 5:29 PM

      Agree- that sounded pretty weak from a seasoned defense attorney. Some of the posters here could’ve prepared a better closing theme, e.g. Ward as Lunesta zombie giving a sudden forceful thrust, or an independently-wealthy, OCD ninja disabling a man holding only a joint, who then decides to damage a kid’s sandbox lid while bounding over fences.

      • Lee
        06/24/2010 at 5:51 PM

        In my experience, holding a man’s joint can certainly calm him even if it doesn’t disable.

  10. Sandra Renee Hicks
    06/24/2010 at 4:34 PM

    Greetings –

    The intelligence displayed here has been of such benefit. My heart hurts for the Wone family for what they know and for what they don’t know.

    Contributors here have provided insightful, contemplative, and incisive commentary.

    Kudos to the editors who gave gripping thorough accounts of courtroom observations. This site hit the motherlode. Thank you for the brainchild. This novel approach to justice should be emulated and copied for its obvious judicial value. Also, it has the value of the development of soul connections – caring people united with the common goal to honor a man whose blood cries out for justice. I am humbled, editors, by your mission and impressed by how you dignified this process.

    This website’s innovative approach/application could be used in case studies. I hope that it is the start of many more such sites.
    It is indeed a quality community service that has proven to be a worthwhile exercise. I motion to continue….

    Appreciation is extended to the others who attended the trial and reported their findings, critiques, and observations to the audience on this site. Thanks also to those who did not visit the courtroom but proffered “aha” moments. “Posters” asked pointed questions in bountiful supply, and many wise and knowledgeable viewpoints are on the record here.

    This website is, to my knowledge, the first of its kind. With few exceptions, the consistent quality comments posted here succeeded to inform, enlighten, and constructively challenge. It is on record, in an unprecedented form, that citizens care much about justice.

    Thank you to all here who gave care, energy, wisdom, and knowledge for a cause that is priceless.

    • Doug
      06/24/2010 at 8:00 PM

      Thanks Mom. 😉 … just kidding. Thanks very much all the same.
      Doug, co-editor

  11. CDinDC (Boycott BP)
    06/24/2010 at 4:46 PM

    From WaPo: Grimm said the reason Price did not go into Ward’s bedroom to check on Ward after discovering Wone was because Price “didn’t want to leave a dying man.”

    “He was darned if he did and darned if he didn’t,” Grimm said, referring to Price’s struggle over leaving Wone’s body to check on Ward.

    What? Joe was the only one that could have tended to Robert AND check on Dylan? Victor couldn’t run across the hall while on the phone to 911? “Dylan? Dylan? ::knockknock: Are you okay??”

    What a lame excuse.

    • Bea
      06/24/2010 at 4:52 PM

      So true!

    • commonsensewillprevailihope
      06/24/2010 at 4:59 PM

      So flimsy. I almost think ignoring it would have been better.

      • Bea
        06/24/2010 at 5:27 PM

        Agree, commonsense – no need for the judge to hear it twice if that’s all you got!

    • Lurker
      06/24/2010 at 5:27 PM

      “Dying”? I thought he was dead, incapacitated… And meanwhile, wasn’t Victor upstairs and downstairs on the phone? God, these defense arguments are lame.

      I know that they only have to raise reasonable doubt, but these explanations are just not reasonable. I can think of no rational, logical or reasonable scenario under which these guys don’t at least know who killed Robert. And because they refuse to say what they know, I hope that they are found guilty.

    • Liam
      06/24/2010 at 6:48 PM

      Exactly. Lame.

      If I woke up and found a houseguest stabbed (and I DIDN’T do it) I’d be “freaking out” to make sure everyone else in the house is okay, and I’d gather everyone in the same room to make sure they were okay and I’d immediately want the police there, and I’d be scared shitless that this intruder who would kill somebody might still be around.

    • Tarfunk
      06/24/2010 at 7:21 PM

      Dylan’s room was just down the hall. Wouldn’t you at least be screaming at the top of your lungs, “Dylan! Dylan!”? Puh-leez.

  12. WillC
    06/24/2010 at 4:48 PM

    Bea, Carolina, CDinDC, Bill, Bill Orange, Kate, AnnZ, ChiLaw and so many others…I can’t tell you how much i have enjoyed and appreciate all of your posts and sharing your expertise. You, and the editors, compromise the true “Dream Team”, and are clearly on the side of the law – which is very refreshing even on these hot sweltering days.

    As Day 22 begins to close, I find myself having neglected housekeeping for the last month as I have been glued to the internet awaiting you next smoke signal. Looking at the huge amount of cleaning I have to do- I would seriously love to have the boys over and have them clean my apt. Say what you want, guilty or innocent, they clearly know how to deep clean in a short period of time! Maybe a new business for them, and or Michael?

    • Former Criminal Sex Offense Prosecutor
      06/24/2010 at 5:00 PM

      WillC-

      I have been thinking the same thing for a long time.

      Only 2 foreign fingerprints? 1 tiny tablet of Ecstasy? I wish they would come & do some serious housekeeping over here as I am a terrible cleaner.

      I am not willing to have Michael on the premises however. He has what we in the biz referred to as “sticky fingers”.

      • WillC
        06/24/2010 at 5:06 PM

        the ecstasy was left on purpose..they new that the MPD would expect to find some drugs in a gay household, otherwise they might suspect the place had been “cleaned”. Michael could handle the outside work perhaps? Fence mending, sand box cleaning, drain washing?

        • Carolina
          06/24/2010 at 6:23 PM

          I must remember to get a tab for my house, lest I find myself in any similar situation.

        • Former Criminal Sex Offense Prosecutor
          06/24/2010 at 7:03 PM

          WillC-

          Never a good idea to have a drug relapsing sticky fingered person doing odd jobs even those outside your house.

          They use that time to look inside & “case the joint”.

          Then their friend Phelps comes back & this time they really clean you out.

        • Tarfunk
          06/24/2010 at 7:25 PM

          Sorry, but the idea that cops should expect to find drugs in a gay household is deeply offensive. You may not have heard it yet, but our lives are as diverse as those of straight people.

    • chilaw79
      06/24/2010 at 6:20 PM

      Housekeeping? What is that?

      I am having trouble just returning calls and e-mails.

      • Kate
        06/24/2010 at 7:11 PM

        Yeah, yeah, I think I kind of remember that.

        And Willc, thank you for your extremely kind comments and they indeed do apply to all the wise and wonderful folks you mentioned, except for me.

        I’m just the “Underwear Girl.”

        Cheers and Blessings,
        Kate

        (if that is confusing, please see my very lengthy comment from earlier today regarding mid-19th century undergarments.)

        • chilaw79
          06/24/2010 at 7:22 PM

          I did find myself thinking that the garments you described if worn on a 95 degree day would explain all the fainting that these women purportedly did. You could get muscles just from putting those clothes on and taking them off.

          • Kate
            06/24/2010 at 7:44 PM

            Yes Chilaw, that does explain all of that fainting, having done so myself on more than one occasion while in attire. Also, the corset restricts the natural movement of your diaphragm – you have to breath “up”, not in and out.

            On a hot day, it is a great way to lose water weight – while building muscle … and character!

            Kate

        • Former Criminal Sex Offense Prosecutor
          06/24/2010 at 7:26 PM

          Kate-

          I will think of you always as “Agent Provocateur”.

          A historian who is a double agent in time, moving flawlessly from hoopskirts to boyshorts to Prada.

    • Liam
      06/24/2010 at 6:58 PM

      Regarding the cleaning that was apparently done, when I see these investigative reporting shows (20/20, Dateline; 48 Hours, etc.) and they cover a murder case, it always seems that the forensics investigation involves dismantling drain pipes to test for blood (i.e., did the accused attempt to wash the blood down the drain). I would assume that the CSI people on the MPD did that.

      However, I’ve heard nothing of it. For example, I never heard a comment or article stating “they didn’t find blood in the bathroom drain or the drain outside in the back of the townhouse.”

      I wonder why I haven’t I heard anything on this?

      • Bill 2
        06/24/2010 at 7:12 PM

        Regarding blood in the backyard drain, it sounds as if the trio covered that possibility by using the hose on the steaks. It seems I recall that cadaver dogs signaled a positive on that drain.

  13. LRN
    06/24/2010 at 4:50 PM

    Hopefully not too dumb a question–but I’m a legalese amateur at best and this “bus” comment made me think of this: Who is paying for these attorneys? When a “family” like them is on trial together–is the smart thing to go with attorneys from 3 different firms? I was trying to figure out who would pick up the tab between Joe and Victor who as legal domestic partners in DC would probably have married up their assets and are going into the same “pot” sort of speak. I keep hearing about this very expensive firm but I never got the impression they are wallowing in supreme wealth.

    • 06/24/2010 at 5:10 PM

      I have been wondering this as well. It’s not been clear who is paying what, and if they can actually cover the costs. DOes anyone know if any of the three have been able to remain gainfully employed for the past tow years? If so, doing what and paid by whom?

      • rivetted
        06/24/2010 at 5:17 PM

        Not sure about Victor, but Joe was let go from his firm in January. He had been a partner there. And Dylan has floated a bit since Aug 2006. Most recently, he was in Florida advertising for work as a massage therapist, if I remember correctly.

        • Former Criminal Sex Offense Prosecutor
          06/24/2010 at 5:39 PM

          Rivetted-

          Perhaps Dylan has returned to writing & editing his “prize winning children’s books”.

          The thought that someone might be reading 1 of his works aloud to a sweet unsuspecting child at bedtime is truly disturbing on so many levels.

      • Nelly
        06/24/2010 at 5:24 PM

        Our sleuths here found an ad Dylan put up in Florida as “Michael,” offering sensual massages. Maybe the IRS should investigate him, as I’ll bet he did not report his cash wages and tips! Victor got a different job in the dairy industry, but I don’t know if he ended up quitting or took a break for this trial. The guys made a nice profit selling 1509 Swann St. and also pulled on some big law attorneys’ heartstrings asking for donations to their legal defense fund, because they had “exhausted” all their savings, supposedly. Then there was also much financial support from Ward and Zaborsky’s parents and probably free rent from Victor’s Aunt Marcia.

        • Liam
          06/24/2010 at 7:09 PM

          Although the Swann St. place apparently sold for a nice profit, did it go for less than other comparable places because of the murder that occurred there………by a random intruder….. That sort of thing would diminish the value of most places, I would think.

          • curiousdc
            06/24/2010 at 7:47 PM

            Don’t forget that Joe and Victor still own the R St. condo, refer to the washingtonpost.com realty section

        • Carolina
          06/24/2010 at 7:12 PM

          “Maybe the IRS should investigate him, as I’ll bet he did not report his cash wages and tips!”

          Hey, if it was good enough to get Capone…

    • Carolina
      06/24/2010 at 6:34 PM

      JP and VZ had considerable assets. Dylan’s father is a very successful cardiologist. Victor was still employed by the dairy lobby when last addressed.

      • Former Criminal Sex Offense Prosecutor
        06/24/2010 at 7:15 PM

        Carolina-

        Needham Ward is not a cardiologist, he is a cardiac surgeon. Big difference. In income & prestige as well as ego.

        Bill Orange can fill you in.

        Cardiac surgeons make on average, 2 million plus per year.

        • chilaw79
          06/24/2010 at 7:24 PM

          Now that he is qualified as an expert, I am sure Dr. Najam will be willing to testify (again) that a cardiac surgeon and a cardiologist are very different.

          • Former Criminal Sex Offense Prosecutor
            06/24/2010 at 7:37 PM

            Chilaw 79-

            Yes indeedy. Dr. Najam made it clear in his very first outing that he is so much more than a lowly cardiologist.

            Bill Orange intrigues me because he knows a great deal about cardiology, but is not a clinician. I have pegged him as a researcher, but not in the field of cardiology.

  14. susan
    06/24/2010 at 4:51 PM

    I haven’t read all the posts yet, but want to add to what David wrote above that the “mercedes” moment also included how VZ described what he heard beforehand and afterwards re screams vs grunts, etc.

    After hearing (in overflow room, so not seeing) some of the videotaped interviews with the three defendants I am more convinced of a conspiracy. Hearing VZ’s hesitation about what he said earlier re the knife.; DW’s seeming on-the-spot creation of what he saw re a “square” something JP was using to apply pressure; The conversational tone of JP’s voice. It was kind of creepy.

    I think at times the prosecutor didn’t budget his time as he should. I think he should have been given as much time as the defense since he was also making a case against three individuals even if it was One conspiracy, but re time, as it was meted out for closing arguments, the law is the law.

    At one point in the actual courtroom, after a break, I sat next to the woman who called herself the “best friend of the mother of the children of the defendants.” She said “Kim” (both are prob. reading this now, so, hey there) couldn’t be there/wasn’t there because at one point she was expected to be a witness in the case. I asked on which side. She said she didn’t know if she could say, but I think we can guess.

    She took copious amts of notes and then at one point abruptly left. Perhaps I made her uncomfortable, since I was glancing around at everyone. Maybe she sensed my sense of the “best friend’s” babies’ fathers guilt.

    • Former Criminal Sex Offense Prosecutor
      06/24/2010 at 5:06 PM

      Susan-

      Kim Musheno is the mother of Victor Jaborsky’s sperm donated child. Joe Price is the father of her partner’s child. Sound confusing? They are on Team Trouple, the ties that bind a family.

      This article will clear it up for you http://www.usatoday.com/life/lifestyle/2004-03-09-gay-parents_x.htm

      • susan
        06/24/2010 at 5:16 PM

        Thanks, FCSOP, but it’s my understanding that the one woman gave birth to both JP’s and VZ’s children.

        • susan
          06/24/2010 at 5:17 PM

          P.S. Read that article ages ago, too. I think you have it wrong. One mother of two kids-one JP’s the other VZ’s.

        • David
          06/24/2010 at 5:18 PM

          That is correct, Kim Musheno is the birth mother of both of the children, one to Joe Price, and the other to Victor Zaborsky.

          David, co-ed

        • Pete McLeanVa
          06/24/2010 at 5:18 PM

          Susan, you are correct.

        • Former Criminal Sex Offense Prosecutor
          06/24/2010 at 5:43 PM

          Susan-

          Thanks for the clarification. To all of you.

          Somehow my point went under.

          I buried the lead, I guess.

          Don’t you think that was the “Kim” the person was referring to? Kim Musheno? Of the ties that bind? On Team Trouple?

          Wasn’t that what you were wondering?

  15. tucsonwriter
    06/24/2010 at 4:51 PM

    From eds latest update:

    Grimm focused only evidence tampering, in what might be termed a scattershot presentation. “The government says the only truthful thing he said was that he pulled the knife from Robert’s body. If he pulled the knife out, that’s proof it was the murder weapon,” he said in a strong flourish. He also suggested that three college educated men could surely create a stronger lie to throw the police off the track other than an unseen, unheard and unlikely intruder.

    To the defense lawyers in the crowd. Is that really enough to raise reasonable doubt? What about the fact that they had to have cleaned up the blood AND there clearly was no intruder? Isn’t he establishing that they are liars. It almost sounds like he is reinforcing it as a silly idea and unbelievable. “Unseen, unheard, and unlikely” is from the defense?

  16. Bill Orange
    06/24/2010 at 4:54 PM

    Hmmm. I think that the beat-down that Kirschner got was actually a good thing. And it looks like the judge really isn’t buying the whole “intruder” story.

    Connolly’s summation was the biggest “tell”, I think. It really does sound like he threw the other two under the bus. I think he realizes that things are NOT going well, and he focused on saving his own client at the expense of the other two. I was probably the right thing to do in this case, but I don’t think any co-counsel is going to trust him ever again.

    I think it’ll be interesting to see what Ward’s lawyer does.

    • gina
      06/24/2010 at 7:44 PM

      Don’t you think that for Victor’s lawyer to have done this, he had to have cleared it with Victor? Maybe as the attorney he did this without V’s knowledge, but it seems like something he would have said to his client, hey this is going down and I think as your attorney, this is what we need to do to save you. It gives me hope that Victor is going to turn, however late.

  17. susan
    06/24/2010 at 4:59 PM

    Just another thought: it sounded like JP said (videotape) that he himself was hysterical so he sent VZ to call 911. But even if he was referring to VZ being hysterical I didn’t hear him say why he didn’t just have him pick up the phone right in the room. Surely if he could remove a knife and move a knife, VZ could use one of the phones in the room. It is very odd that he sent him out of the room. It just makes no sense. And it makes no sense that in their scenario/alibi no one checks on DW or calls him for help or anything. The calmness of their voices, the set up of one in a room with the stabbed Mr. W and one sent a flight up to a third phone away from two present phones.

    And no evidence of an “intruder” or as JP said (didn’t he? At the very first interview) a “burglar.” He said it categorically. How odd.

    CON-spiracy.

    • Carolina
      06/24/2010 at 6:40 PM

      I don’t think it’s odd to get rid of Victor. If I needed time to think, either to get my own story together or to address the needs of a dying friend, the first thing I’d do would be to get rid of anyone who was a distraction. I’d only be able to deal with one person’s needs at a time, and Victor would just have to be second in line.

  18. AnnaZed
    06/24/2010 at 5:13 PM

    “…The Wone trial officially ended at 4:59, Judge Leibovitz expects to issue her verdict Tuesday at 11am, pending any changes.”

    Now Victor, this weekend is your last chance to effect real change in your own life and the lives of so many others.

    • TK
      06/24/2010 at 5:50 PM

      Think she is giving him some time to stew and fret?

  19. tucsonwriter
    06/24/2010 at 5:14 PM

    Wonder if the Eds mean “Breaking” as in”Breaking up is Hard to do?”

  20. xxx
    06/24/2010 at 5:18 PM

    A verdict on Tuesday morning? Does that suggest that the judge has already made up her mind and is just using the weekend to write the opinion? Do you think this timing suggests acquittal or guilt?

    • mw
      06/24/2010 at 5:22 PM

      I don’t think it says anything about what the verdict will be. “Deliberations” should be quick – because there’s only one person involved. 4 full days seems like a hugely ample amount of time (assuming she’s not going to publish a full written decision then, in which case 4 days doesn’t seem like enough time at all)

      • Themis
        06/24/2010 at 6:16 PM

        When you’re familiar with a case, you can easily write a brief, a memo, or an opinion in four days. I drafted my first state cert petition in two days because it was an emergency petition. It was 40 pages long and good enough to be granted.

        • Lurker
          06/24/2010 at 6:25 PM

          She may also have been drafting the contours of an opinion over the last few weeks as the trial has progressed…and she may also be relying on the recent briefing by the parties to build her opinion. I have gotten opinions back from judges that include cut-and-pastes from briefs I’ve filed. Perhaps the pointed questions during closing are her way of filling in blanks in her opinion?

          • Themis
            06/24/2010 at 6:31 PM

            Agree as to the contours/outline. But I don’t see this judge as the cut and paste type.

            • Greta
              06/24/2010 at 7:37 PM

              Does Leibovitz have a law clerk helping her? During the days I have been in court, I have not seen one, but I would imagine she has a clerk. If so, that person may be taking the laboring oar on drafting the opinion.

  21. BadShoes
    06/24/2010 at 5:19 PM

    Today, for some reason, some words from Lincoln’s second inaugural address kept running through my mind:

    “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in..”

    • Tim
      06/24/2010 at 5:34 PM

      It’s kind of been overlooked, but to when I was in court this morning, I thought this was the key moment of the day: before closings began, Spagnoletti got up and objected to any use of the defendants inconsistent statements to investigators as proof of obstruction/conspiracy. Before he could finish his sentence, Judge L quite contemptuously interrupted him and said “I don’t agree.” It was a total slapdown. And I think it indicated that she believes it highly probative that the defendants’ statements a) evolved after the Mercedes meeting and b) are inconsistent with versions Joe Price told other people.

      • Lurker
        06/24/2010 at 5:37 PM

        Really? He actually tried to bar the use of inconsistent statements? That’s ballsy.

        • Greta
          06/24/2010 at 7:41 PM

          Ballsy…or desperate. Spag should have known better. That request telegraphs the weakness of their case. The statements are all over the place. Not that Judge L needs reminding, but it just underlines, highlights and puts a few post-it flags by something really problematic for the defense.

      • Liam
        06/24/2010 at 7:43 PM

        What is the defense’s basis for barring such statements? It certainly seems that a fair decision involves weighing these statements with all the other evidence.

        On the other hand, if I had a nickel for every inconsistent statement that I’ve heard in my life, I’d have a lot of nickels.

  22. rivetted
    06/24/2010 at 5:48 PM

    The suspense! Are FCSOP and Lee long-lost friends after all?

    • Former Criminal Sex Offense Prosecutor
      06/24/2010 at 6:51 PM

      Rivetted-

      Lee is an elderly tease as well as a flirt.

      Crotchless panties from Frederick’s of Hollywood, indeed.

      No one who was actively working at NASA would have the time to goof off with so many posts.

      He is retired & too old to know what Kate & I know, it is all about Agent Provocateur these days.

      • Kate
        06/24/2010 at 7:29 PM

        Yes, indeedy – it is wise to be wary of rocket scientists with a wee bit of time on their hands – charming, flirtatious …. and dangerous with a clever turn of phrase.

        “Agent Provocateur”, so right, FCSOP – the allure of the unseen, with the occasional glimpse of a well-turned ankle. Shocking stuff.

        Cheers,
        Kate

  23. 06/24/2010 at 5:49 PM

    Harry Jaffe, a real journalist, helps us figure out what the verdict might be in this scoop:

    http://www.washingtonian.com/blogarticles/people/capitalcomment/16137.html

    • tucsonwriter
      06/24/2010 at 6:02 PM

      The problem with the government’s case is that it has plenty of theme but few facts. To prove criminal conspiracy, obstruction of justice, or tampering with evidence, prosecutors need three things: evidence, testimony, or a confession. In this case they have little or none of each.

      From the article.

      • weaver
        06/24/2010 at 6:09 PM

        The prosecution gave testimony and evidence. Where is the rule that says there needs to be a confession? Criminals rarely confess to crimes.

        I have faith the judge will see the obvious. No intruder.

      • Carolina
        06/24/2010 at 7:05 PM

        Well he’s got faulty logic there, if that’s a direct quote. He should have said they needed two of the three. But we’ll not quibble with Mr. AcquitAcquitAcquit.

        • ebgodard
          06/24/2010 at 7:38 PM

          I would suggest that you may need 2 out of the 3, but it would be testimony and “lack” of evidence. Isn’t that the whole point with tampering and obstruction: evidence is missing that should be there?

    • mw
      06/24/2010 at 6:11 PM

      That article does a good job of explaining why you don’t need to believe the intruder theory to acquit here.

      • tucsonwriter
        06/24/2010 at 6:20 PM

        Jaffe only talked about the prosecution, no comments regarding defense. I am guessing he had to leave to file the story. Would be interested in seeing his comments re: Grimm and Connolly’s defense.

      • Carolina
        06/24/2010 at 7:06 PM

        It’s hard to base a not guilty verdict the assumption the three men are liars.

    • susan
      06/24/2010 at 6:30 PM

      I thought HJ provided an apt description of some of the back and forth re the judge and the prosecutor. That said, I don’t know what BF means re “a real journalist.” From what I understand he’s a columnist. A journalist would report the facts; a columnist would opine, as Mr. Jaffe did when he wrote in his previous column, “Acquit, acquit, acquit.”

      • tucsonwriter
        06/24/2010 at 6:34 PM

        He taught journalism at the American University and does investigative reporting: wrote a book about corruption in DC.

        • Carolina
          06/24/2010 at 6:46 PM

          OOoooh, *American* U!

          Alright, let’s pretend that was me, impressed.

      • susan
        06/24/2010 at 6:37 PM

        Pls. excuse. It was “innocent, innocent, innocent.”

        I guess I disagree, disagree, disagree. Somethin’ ain’t kosher in the Price-Zaborsky-Ward household.

        • Carolina
          06/24/2010 at 7:17 PM

          No, it was “Acquit, Acquit, Acquit” when it first went up, then changed to “Innocent, Innocent, Innocent.” Maybe he wasn’t sure of the spelling and decided to go with what he knew.

    • Carolina
      06/24/2010 at 6:43 PM

      Hee! You’re always good for a laugh, my good man.

  24. Just Wondering
    06/24/2010 at 5:52 PM

    A couple of thoughts:

    Grimm’s comment – “The government says the only truthful thing he said was that he pulled the knife from Robert’s body. If he pulled the knife out, that’s proof it was the murder weapon.”

    Is that true? Why does that logically follow? Could Joe not have pulled out the real murder weapon, gotten rid of it, then planted the dummy knife? Am I missing something?

    Second, I am not on board with Judge Leibovitz’s “loving mother” hypo. I think there is plenty of evidence that Victor witnessed the tampering, including the 911 call inconsistencies and weirdness (“another towel,” 11:43, and the hysteria upon the EMT arrival) his confusion about the knife, the early scream, etc. Is it not a bad sign that Leibovitz made the analogy to a mom who simply is willfully ignorant and believes her sons? I guess her statement that the mom might be guilty of “omission” is a good thing, but I worry that she could be overlooking some of the critical inconsistencies.

    Finally, I am interested in others’ thoughts on what we can make of JL’s question to the effect that she might have to find Dylan was the killer in order to find that he was part of the conspiracy? What other facts must she be assuming if that is true?

    • Lurker
      06/24/2010 at 6:11 PM

      Maybe that if he really was shut up in his room the whole time Joe was allegedly stanching the wounds and Victor was on the phone with 911, then the only way Dylan could be in on the conspiracy is if he was the one who killed Robert in the first place?

      Is the trouple’s story really that Dylan was in his room all that time?

      • susan
        06/24/2010 at 6:25 PM

        I thought the argument put forth that he was part of the conspiracy included an apparent fabricated description of what JP was using to apply pressure to the wounds and even IF he was applying pressure. His silencing himself in response to a glance from JP, his saying he “heard” RW take a shower, when there was no evidence of that and when two dry towels (left for showering) were folded and neatly in the guest room with the dying Mr. W. His saying he didn’t hear anything that night, etc.

        • Lurker
          06/24/2010 at 6:29 PM

          If he really wasn’t part of the conspiracy, maybe what he heard were Joe and Victor (and maybe Michael) showering Robert off.

          • Carolina
            06/24/2010 at 6:48 PM

            I would think two men carrying a third would sound very little like a single, small man doing so on his own steam.

            • Lurker
              06/24/2010 at 6:56 PM

              Well, yeah. Which is why I don’t buy what the trouple is selling. That house is not big enough for any one of them not to know what really happened.

          • ebgodard
            06/24/2010 at 7:07 PM

            I go back to the interview transcripts and I found Dylan’s answers to be the most believeable and frankly still do. It may have been totally different when watching the video. Dylan was at the top of the stairs when the EMT arrived and didn’t say a word when asked a direct question. Joe could have told him to keep his mouth shut as the EMT was coming up the stairs. No one else would have heard it because Victor was downstairs after answering the door. I think Dylan and Victor feared Joe perhaps more than they loved him.

            If this were a jury trial and I were a juror, Joe would be found guilty on all counts based soley on the 911 call and the EMT’s description as he entered the room.

            1-Victor was relaying instructions and asking questions of Joe who was right next to him, yet there is no audio of Joe. You’d think Joe would have been panicked coming upon his friend dying in his home and his voice would have been audible, even shouting. I can almost see him mouthing questions and responses to Victor. At one point Victor instinctively says something like “don’t touch that.” It seemed genuine. What was Joe doing?

            2-Victor relayed to Joe that he must keep pressure on the wound at all times until EMTs arrived, never removing towels, just adding more. Yet the description of the scene when the EMT walked in was bone chilling. Joe knew the EMTs had arrived because Victor went down to open the door. Yet he was sitting on the bed with his back to the door and was not applying pressure as clearly instructed. He did not speak and did not turn when the EMT entered which unnerved the EMT so much he did not allow himself to have his back to Joe. It made the hair “stand up on the back of his neck.” Sometimes the gut, instinctive, visceral reaction like the EMT experienced is the most damning.

            3-And finally it is just weird that Joe didn’t tell Victor to check on Dylan and had Victor go upstairs to make the 911 call. Did he want Victor out of the room so he could do something? Was he not sure Robert was dead? Did he want to make sure?

            Then you add to that Joes’ mutiple stories. If memory serves me Joe initially told someone that he heard a noise and came all the way downstairs and noticed the door ajar. That then changed. He told Kathy Wone Robert was “stabbed in the back.” He told an officer that they found him bleeding on the patio and brought him upstairs. And the final story- Joe came down the stairs and could see blood from the staircase. Which one is it Joe? Guilty on all counts.

            • Carolina
              06/24/2010 at 7:25 PM

              1. What was he touching? I always wondered if he was dabbing at Robert’s gaping wound to wipe it on the knife.

              Think about it and tell me what the other options are. What would Joe be touching that Victor would break into his conversation with the 911 op to try to stop?

              • Kate
                06/24/2010 at 7:34 PM

                Interesting thought, that.

      • Carolina
        06/24/2010 at 6:58 PM

        That does appear to be their contention, Lurker. Wouldn’t Joe yell for him? If Victor was hysterical, wouldn’t Joe need Dylan’s calm demeanor more than ever?

  25. susan
    06/24/2010 at 6:21 PM

    Judge’s example re the mama and two boys: I could be completely wrong in my understanding of what transpired but it seems to me she was asking the prosecutor if there’s a difference btw a person covering up for a loved one but not knowing the full extent of the crime or simply covering up due to dedication to the loved one. Atty Kirschner, it seems, essentially said no, either way it’s a cover up. Did the judge seem there is a distinction (I thought so) and why?

    To me it seems, in this case, murder. If JP is one son and he’s lying and VZ is the mama, VZ knows there’s a murder. So even if VZ doesn’t know the extent of JP’s involvement, covering up with JP’s instructions (regarding a MURDER) is conspiring and obstructing and the whole shebang.

    Another thought. What WAS DW doing the whole time, once he allegedly lazily emerges from his room and sees the “square” of cloth, etc. What did he do? More and more his behavior altogether seems incongruent with any kind of natural instinctive behavior of a human being supposedly happening upon a bloody dead guest in his home.

    • ebgodard
      06/24/2010 at 6:31 PM

      Agree.I don’t think there should be a distinction based on the “extent” of the knowledge. A mother might know in her soul that her child is guilty but can not bear to hear it articulated. Her subsequent actions and motives should be viewed as tampering/obstruction etc whether or not there was an actual discussion.

      Also in such a “close” family some things can remain unspoken. The old plausible deniability in action.

  26. Leo
    06/24/2010 at 6:45 PM

    I was one of about 150 people who showed up this morning to hear the closing arguments. Although I was about 6th in line outside the courthouse door, there was just no seating available, because the marshals were reserving seats for the families of the prosecution team, defense team, and just about anybody else who claimed to be a relative of somebody involved in the trial. Three blondes (1 male, 2 female) suddenly cut in line ahead of me and a lot of us were feeling peevish. I overheard one of the blondes (later identified as Lisa Goddard) tell the marshal, “Can we please get in, we’re friends of Robert’s.” He promised to look for seating for them. About 4 minutes later the defendants arrived. When Joe Price saw the blondes he hurried over, hugs and smiles all round, and he told the head blonde (Lisa) that he would see if “Bernie” could get them in. Later on, from the overflow courtroom where all of us waiting on line were relegated, the blondes came in. Apparently Bernie did not come through. Friends of Robert’s, indeed.

    I took voluminous notes but will let the eds summarize the 4 arguments today. I will say, that if the defendants are acquitted, it will be in large part due to Schertler’s closing. In the end, he did not split his time with Spagnoletti, and he did a great job of itemizing, in several groups, the government’s “suspicious circumstances,” and arguing strongly that none of them were actually that suspicious or required imputing nefarious motives to the defendants. He made sense, was organized, did not ramble, and was able to answer all of the Judge’s “provocative hypotheticals,” as she termed them. Kirschner answered her hypotheticals, but not fluidly, and simply would/could not itemize for her what inferences she was supposed to draw from what evidence in order to find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that each defendant committed each crime charged. Carlson-Lieber did the rebuttal, and she was able to be more succinct and answer the Judge’s hypotheticals. The Judge really ran today’s arguments like an appellant judge would, interrupting with questions and “provocative hypotheticals” throughout each attorney’s presentation. She spared no one.

    Although the plan was for each defense attorney to address only one of the charges, each attorney actually seemed to comment on all of the charges, with a primary focus on his own client. I didn’t get any impression that Connolly threw anybody “under the bus,” don’t know where that canard came from. He spoke quietly and sincerely of Victor’s kind and gentle nature and went through the evidence on conspiracy (his allocated subject matter) pretty thoroughly. Since there wasn’t much on this issue, he only took about 35-40 minutes to close.

    I’ll post some more later if anyone has specific questions. Occam’s Razor and I sat together for all the arguments today, and Craig was alongside us for Kirschner’s opening argument. All of us, along with a guy from CBS who was also an observer, commented on Kirschner’s grilling by the Judge and what to make of it. Since he was the first to go, I didn’t know if she was just picking holes in the prosecution’s case, or helping him plug holes, or what. Since she continued her methods throughout the remainder of the day, I don’t believe she was just picking on the prosecution’s case. I read in the latest update by the eds that she told the courtroom she expected to announce her verdict on Tuesday at 11 am. That seems fast to me, especially because she kept emphasizing that she had NOT made any findings or come to any conclusions yet, despite the posing of her hypotheticals. The hypotheticals she posed kind of required us to posit Dylan as the killer, Joe as the helper, and Victor as the mother who has no idea, and doesn’t want to have any idea, about what her beloved boys have been up to. Again, these were all hypotheticals, and provocative ones at that, so I am not implying that that’s what the Judge thinks. But it was kind of chilling to hear her ask these questions that assumed that either Joe or Dylan was a murderer.

    • Carolina
      06/24/2010 at 6:52 PM

      Leo, I find Lisa’s actions despicable. She had been established by a very, very reliable poster as a completely loyal, but honest person. I can’t help but wonder what he makes of this.

      • Leo
        06/24/2010 at 6:55 PM

        She can be honest and believe Joe et al. are innocent. That really doesn’t reflect on her. I guess she can also consider herself a friend of Robert’s too. Some people try hard not to take sides after a divorce, for instance. I guess she truly believes her friend Joe is innocent of murder and cover up. We may not agree, but it doesn’t make her dishonest.

        • Carolina
          06/24/2010 at 7:02 PM

          Using “I’m a friend of Robert’s” to gain access rather than “I’m a friend of the defendants” was a nasty piece of work, IMO. She was clearly not there to support the Wone family.

      • Bill Orange
        06/24/2010 at 7:04 PM

        I knew her several years ago, and I’ve always thought of her as a loyal and honorable person, but I thought this was really tacky. If she wants to go there to show her support for Joe, I think that’s fine, but she needs to be honest about it. Yes, she’s a friend of Robert’s, so the statement is technically true, but the reason she’s there is to support Joe, and trying to leverage her friendship with Robert to score better seats in the courtroom is truly beneath her.

        • Carolina
          06/24/2010 at 7:07 PM

          I was hoping you would weigh in without having to ask you directly. It saddened me to think she’d use Robert to get a courtroom seat.

          • commonsensewillprevailihope
            06/24/2010 at 7:27 PM

            who is she?..how despicable..really..incredible..just vile..

            • Bill Orange
              06/24/2010 at 7:40 PM

              She’s a mutual friend of Joe’s and Robert’s (and mine) from William and Mary. She was one of the people who came to the police station to meet Joe the next morning. To my knowledge, she has always thought that Joe was innocent and is being unfairly targeted by the MPD. I think she’s sincere (and naive) in this belief–she is one of the most loyal people I’ve ever met. But I’ve also always thought of her as one of the most moral people I’ve known, too. And claiming you’re a friend of the victim’s (even if it’s true) in order to get a good seat to show support for one of the defendants is simply not something that Lisa–or at least the Lisa I used to know–would ever do.

    • chilaw79
      06/24/2010 at 7:38 PM

      I find myself thinking over and over again that the one brilliant move by defense counsel was to waive a jury trial.

      Although the judge is acting as the finder of fact in this case, Judge Leibowitz seems to be reluctant to make some of the inferential leaps that a jury might readily make. A standard jury instruction states, “You should use common sense in weighing the evidence. In our lives, we often look at one fact and conclude from it that another fact exists.”

      At base, the prosecution is saying the defendants cooked up a story about an intruder who stabbed Robert Wone to death. The facts include a delay in calling 911, a crime scene that does not match what is said on the 911 call, a defendant who is making no effort to save his friend’s life when the EMTs arrive, and a defendant who acknowledges moving the knife and wiping blood to friends, but tells a slightly different story to police. There is no evidence of an intruder–no break in, nothing missing–and the additional mystery of why an intruder would open a door and kill a sleeping man.

      I think most jurors would make the inferential leap that there was no intruder and one or more of the defendants knows the intruder story they all told the police was a red herring. What would stop the judge the making the same inferential leap?

    • Craig
      06/24/2010 at 8:15 PM

      Clarification: Lisa was not one of the two who tried to gain access to room 310. It was another woman I believe. And everything we know about Lisa is that she’s a stand up gal and a loyal and caring friend.

  27. susan
    06/24/2010 at 6:52 PM

    Hey All,

    Our intrepid WMRW reporters will be taking questions in a chat with H. Jaffe at the Washingtonian tomorrow at 10 a.m. Submit questions here:

    http://www.washingtonian.com/chats/people/16135.html

    • Carolina
      06/24/2010 at 7:09 PM

      What would we ask them that we haven’t already?

  28. Bill Orange
    06/24/2010 at 7:08 PM

    Question for the lawyers: Now that the trial is over, my understanding is that if one of the defendants flips, he won’t be able to testify against the other two. (Of course, if the other two are convicted, he could testify at the sentencing hearing.) But if someone flips and changes their plea to guilty, can the guilty plea itself be considered when determining the guilt of the other two?

    • Bea
      06/24/2010 at 7:18 PM

      Do you mean he couldn’t testify in THIS trial because it’s over? Maybe Themis knows of some rule about future trials that I don’t know . . .

      • commonsensewillprevailihope
        06/24/2010 at 7:23 PM

        This trial is not over until a verdict, is it..

        • Bea
          06/24/2010 at 7:26 PM

          Hey Commonsense, it’s that the prosecution has rested.

    • chilaw79
      06/24/2010 at 7:42 PM

      I think such testimony comes too late for this trial. Double jeopardy has clearly attached and the defendants cannot be tried twice for the same crime. In addition, it would raise all sorts of issues about whether the defendants should have gotten separate trials.

      I would howl like a banshee if the judge considered a guilty plea as evidence of another defendant’s guilt at this point.

  29. Leonard
    06/24/2010 at 7:17 PM

    To the editors. You’ve created a forum that I suspect was followed in detail by both the defense and the prosecution. As I read and on occasion posted I pondered who else might be reading. How many were law students, defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges? I had visions of law school classes reviewing the evidence and debating the law. I happily note that a key prosecution closing argument about neither Joe nor Victor searching immediately for Dylan was posted a while back on this blog. Perhaps your next case could be for a capital appeal where it looks like the defendant was railroaded.

  30. Rich
    06/24/2010 at 7:21 PM

    Leo:

    Was Joseph Price’s parents or family there today?

    Have they ever been there?

    Great reporting, Leo.

    Thank you.

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