Doubting Thomas

Rehabilitating Seniors

One of the very first witnesses of the Wone criminal trial did not surface in Judge Leibovitz’ written order until the final pages.

WJLA Anchorwoman Maureen Bunyan

The time line of the evening still remains a mystery. The government’s theory that the 9-1-1 call was delayed rested on the testimony of the housemates’ next door neighbors,  Mr. William Thomas and his wife Claudia.

Establishing a delay in Zaborsky’s 9-1-1 call would’ve been a harpoon in the side of all three former criminal defendants.  A lag of anywhere between fourteen and fifty minutes would have been very incriminating for the threesome, demonstrating a failure to aide their dying friend.

The elderly couple who lived at 1507 Swann Street since 1972, testified on Day 2 of the trial.  From that day’s posts:

“Next up at 2:15 was W-3, the 1507 Swann Street neighbor who reported hearing a scream that night.  Mr. William Thomas took the stand and relayed the evening’s events to AUSA Rachel Carson Leiber.  His wife Claudia later backed up his version of the night.

Mr. Thomas went to bed around 10:30 but woke up sometimes after 11:00pm to use the bathroom.  He remembered hearing the scream when WJLA’s Maureen Bunyan was anchoring the evening news.  While in the second floor hallway, he heard her voice from the TV on the first floor.  Mrs. Thomas was watching Bunyan in the kitchen before doing the dishes.”

The defense team tried to rough up the two old timers when they were on the stand, with not-so-thinly veiled suggestions of senior moments and faulty memories that required a review/refresher of their grand jury testimony before testifying.

Not intimidated at all by the high-priced defense counsel, the Thomases held their ground.  Mrs. Thomas knew what she knew and said, “I like Maureen Bunyan and that’s who I watched.”

Later in the trial, just before the closings, Zaborsky counsel Tom Connolly went as far as introducing a clip of the Nightline program (Defense exhibit #908) that followed Bunyan that night, from 11:45-11:52pm.   Could it have been another woman’s voice on WJLA-TV that night that Mr. Thomas heard?

Connolly’s fourth quarter Hail Mary Maureen pass seemed to do the trick.  Although Leibovitz did not go into detail in her order, it was reasonable doubt as far as she was concerned, and with that, the government case and time line was basically screwed.

Can the Thomases be rehabilitated if they take the stand in the civil trial?

Leibovitz apparently did not buy the Thomas’ testimony at all.  She gave it minor mention in her order, while seemingly discounting the couple recollections in their entirety:

“I conclude that the government’s evidence does not sufficiently establish the time of the stabbing or of the defendants’ discovery of the stabbing to prove the defendants’ timelines are false. The defendants’ next door neighbor, Mr. Thomas, testified that he heard a scream from his bedroom at a time when he also believed he heard reporter Maureen Bunyan on television from downstairs, suggesting that this had to be before the conclusion of the news at 11:30 pm…. However, none of this evidence is conclusive on the question of the truthfulness of the defendants’ timeline.”

OK, Leibovitz was a tough sell.  But looking at the upcoming civil trial, how well may Mr. and Mrs. Thomas play in front of a jury?  A jury that is likely to be more in line with their demographic than that of the defendants.

Just whose peers will the jury most resemble?  Anyone who’s served on a DC jury is familiar with the make up of the twelve.  There are generally three to five men and women in the jurors’ box that look a lot like Mr. And Mrs. Thomas, longtime residents of DC and maybe longtime viewers of Maureen Bunyan too, for all we know.

Leibovitz cut the Thomases no slack at all.  Perhaps due to her experience in medical malpractice cases, she was more inclined to lean on the conflicting and complex testimony on Robert’s Pulseless Electrical Activity (PEA) and the statements of the defendants in piecing together a time line, rather than the testimony of a man who heard what he called a “desperation scream” from only a few feet away.

There’s another controversial element of Leibovitz’ construct that we’ll address another time – the supposed 11:08 email transition – so keep your powder dry on that until later.  But if the civil team can convince the jury to buy into the Thomases testimony more than the government team was able to, the time line of the night will shift dramatically, without a doubt.

-posted by Craig

170 comments for “Doubting Thomas

  1. sda
    07/14/2010 at 10:38 AM

    The timeline has always been the primary point of concern or conflict for me. The intruder theory timeline makes no sense: an unknown person entered the house, quickly stabs a man who has never slept in that particular room before, no signs of a struggle, no other residents hears anything but “grunts” and door chimes, leaves behind a lack of physical evidence, little blood, all in the span of 10-15 minutes??

    The timeline for the residents having some involvement also doesn’t add up for me. That Robert was incapacitated, stabbed, cleaned up, repositioned in the bed in the span of about 20-30 minutes also doesn’t add up.

    Did the Thomases describe a “scream” or the odd grunting that the defendants described? I’ve read where commenters suggested that the scream that the Thomases heard was really Victor’s screams upon discovering Robert where others are speculating that the screams heard by the Thomases were Robert’s.

    Whatever the speculations, the timeline continues to be a major source of reasonable doubt.

    • ccf
      07/14/2010 at 10:55 AM

      The incapacitation or stabbing could have occurred shortly after Robert’s arrival at 10:30, which would leave an hour for clean-up. Victor’s scream — he admitted that he screamed — likely occurred when he discovered Robert’s body, which could be much later.

      • sda
        07/14/2010 at 11:23 AM

        If the incapacitation and/or stabbing occurred shortly after arrival then the crime was premeditated which is also quite a jump in speculation.

        • Ivan
          07/14/2010 at 11:27 AM

          I always thought (and still do) that the assault on Robert was premeditated – not the murder necessarily but the assault.

        • Eagle
          07/14/2010 at 11:33 AM

          We really do not know what happened that night.
          We only have the word of the defendants as to arrival time, sharing a drink of water, going upstairs to bed etc.
          And each of the three who are known to have been in the house states the same thing in almost identical words.
          Anyhow, Robert is dead and he did not neatly stab himself.

        • Bill 2
          07/14/2010 at 11:41 AM

          It’s not a jump in speculation for the incapacitation. That could have been a plan for a sexual assault or photo op for Joe’s porn collection. It’s the incapacitation that could have gone wrong that may suddenly have changed the whole thing into murder.

          • Hoya Loya
            07/14/2010 at 11:49 AM

            Good point Bill O.

            Problems with the Thomas testimony: they specified a broad range of time in which they heard the scream – the entire 11:00 to 11:35 duration of Bunyan’s newscast; there is no independent corroboration of the timing of the scream – they did not call 911 nor, as many posters noted, were they asked how soon after the scream the EMTs arrived, no other neighbors reported hearing it and the (admittedly conflicting) statements of the defendants would place the scream or grunts as coming just before the 911 call; it cannot be ascertained if the scream was from Robert, Victor or someone else.

            On the other hand testimony that tamponade would cause a loss of consciousness within a minute or minutes and that PEA would be of limited duration absent medical intervention combined with the documented time of the 911 call and the arrival of the EMTs more clearly establish a shorter timeline and in that context the Nightline sound-alike does provide some reasonable doubt about what Mr. Thomas heard.
            I don’t think it can be argued any longer that Robert was stabbed much before 11:30. I don’t think the old incapacitation, restraint, stabbing, washing the body, redressing, major cleaning-up of blood, remaking the bed, disposing of Dylan’s knife, wiping and planting the kitchen knife scenario works anymore.

            I think the civil team, absent new revelatory evidence, needs to work with the judge’s timeline and other factual findings. It is possible, within those constraints, to argue that Robert was incapacitated (needle marks) shortly after 10:30, placed on the bed and lethally stabbed (with little external bleeding) shortly after 11:30, and that the 911 call was placed as documented. That leaves at least 30-45 minutes in between for physical restraint, assault and cleaning up to remove evidence of the assault, if one wants to add those elements and supporting evidence is admitted. If there is little blood to clean, the bed isn’t remade and the knife isn’t switched, three items are removed from the timeline. In many ways, a less complicated chain of events is easier to buy and may work to Kathy’s advantage.

            • Kate
              07/14/2010 at 12:01 PM

              I agree with you completely, Hoya Loya.

              I was writing my post below while you were posting your far more compelling thoughts.

              Regards,
              Kate

            • Bill 2
              07/14/2010 at 12:22 PM

              That wasn’t Bill Orange, HL. Bill Orange is much more learned and has a fuchsia quilt patch while my quilt patch is orange.

              Bill 2

              • Hoya Loya
                07/14/2010 at 12:29 PM

                Oops — should have been wearing my new glasses. Or maybe it was the subliminal effect of the “orange” quilt patch.

                Learned or not, lol, I think you are on to something.

            • Banshee
              07/14/2010 at 1:06 PM

              This is v. helpful to my understanding of the legal piece of the Thomas’s testimony. I responded only to the emotional. Thanks.

              My first thought when I read your reminder that they did not call 911: I lived in the 1700 block of Swann in 1969. I think the Thomas’s have been in the 1500 block since 1972. We frequently heard screams, occasionallly shots. I don’t think we would have called the police unless it was a clear, identifiable indication of distress or cry for help. It wasn’t Chevy Chase. Old habits, maybe?

              • Hoya Loya
                07/14/2010 at 1:11 PM

                Could very well be. I’m not faulting them for not calling, just noting that if they had, the scream would have had a clearer “time stamp.”

              • AnnaZed
                07/14/2010 at 6:28 PM

                What happened to one screen name per customer, humm?

                • Banshee
                  07/15/2010 at 10:15 AM

                  AnnaZed,
                  I’m confused. Was your comment a reply to me? I may not be reading the lines straight. Assume it was an error? Thanks.

                  • AnnaZed
                    07/15/2010 at 10:29 AM

                    Nope not you, now I can’t even find the post I was posting at, maybe it was deleted or something or the sequence is whack.

            • carolina
              07/14/2010 at 5:19 PM

              If there was no incapcitation and even the most rudimentary clean up, why were the stabs so precise? Why was the sheet undisturbed? Why were only 2 unidentified fingerprints found? Why were there no prints from the housemates in the most logical places, like the door latch?

              • Hoya Loya
                07/14/2010 at 6:03 PM

                Carolina: in case I wasn’t clear, my thinking is that Covington should indeed argue there was incapacitation, that an incapacitated Robert was placed on the freshly made-up bed and stabbed there. A clean-up could have been involved, but not one involving the mopping up of lots of blood, since there likely wasn’t much, just a wipedown of the likely sites for prints.

                • carolina
                  07/14/2010 at 6:38 PM

                  I see. I was more thinking aloud than poking holes, but thank you for the clarification.

      • Bill
        07/14/2010 at 8:53 PM

        The problem with speculation that RW was immediately incapacitated at 10:30 p.m. is to assume that the defendant(s) were aware they they were going to kill him after “having their way with him.” Otherwise, RW would have awoken and realized that he had been assaulted and called the police. I don’t believe there was such a plan.

        • AnnaZed
          07/14/2010 at 9:03 PM

          Really? Why not? In fact the existence of such a plan in the mind of at least one person at Swann St. goes a long way towards explaining how things got done in such a short amount of time.

          I am a believer in premeditation in this case, premeditation of murder as a matter of fact. I think the plan was to toss Robert’s body somewhere with knife wounds in it so that it would be classified as just another random city homicide. I think that Victor screwed up that plan first by coming home early and second by making an uncharacteristic foray down from his room when he knew that Joe and Dylan were up to something and screaming when he saw Robert dead. I think it’s even possible that they have done it before, or at least Dylan may have.

          • Bill
            07/15/2010 at 6:02 PM

            I think your scenario if far-fetched without any data to support it.

            • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
              07/15/2010 at 6:58 PM

              happens though

          • Rick
            07/16/2010 at 8:37 AM

            I don’t think your scenario is so far fetched AnnaZed…some of the theories posted just seem too complex, this is quite simple.

        • Bill Orange
          07/15/2010 at 10:29 AM

          If we’re going to speculate about this, I don’t really see it as a problem, to be honest. There are numerous “date rape” drugs out there, so plan like this would have a reasonable chance of success. And it’s fairly clear that two of the three defendants had tried things in the past that went well beyond “vanilla”. So I think that it’s well within the realm of possibility that they had “practiced” this plan on a willing participant in the past (and perhaps on one another) to see how much they would remember the next day.

          • Bill 2
            07/15/2010 at 1:03 PM

            Let’s not forget the Ward-Price e-mail exchange. Surely this trial will see questions as to why they were making plans for times when Victor would be out of town.

            Then there’s Ward saying he’s nervous about trying something. Hopefully there will be questions about that topic. Was it all about trying a new kind of date-rape drug that also provided a memory loss of the rape?

            These things didn’t come up before Judge Lynnie, but the e-mails were entered as evidence to her. I would imagine that this trial will see questions asked of the trio about the e-mail exchange.

            • John
              07/16/2010 at 10:36 AM

              Will Michael Price be called for questions by either side? Just curious.

              • Craig
                07/16/2010 at 12:02 PM

                How can M. Price NOT be deposed for the civil?

                • Clio
                  07/17/2010 at 8:08 AM

                  Zing! Thank you, Craig!

          • Bill
            07/15/2010 at 6:05 PM

            What I am talking about is far more than date rape, it’s sexual assault followed by murder. If they had it so planned, they would have done a much better job setting up an intruder defense with a credible break in, theft of household items as well as taking some of RW’s items that were in plain view.

            • Clio
              07/15/2010 at 7:51 PM

              Bill does have a point there: that’s why I believe that their implementation of any drug-fueled “plan” to assault may have been in extreme haste. They may have not had the time to stage it just right. Any taking away of the cameras, sheets, and knife, for example, ought to have been accompanied by the throwing away of at least one of Robert’s possessions and/or the taking of the laptop in the parlor in plain view. So, the fantasy became a nightmare for all real quick.

            • Bill Orange
              07/16/2010 at 12:40 AM

              They may have planned the rape but not the murder.

              • Bill
                07/16/2010 at 6:07 PM

                But then how were the double / trio going to respond when RW regained consciousness and realized that he had been raped? If he had his own semen in and around his anus, he certainly would have realized that. Also, he would have known that there was a substantial and unaccounted for lapse of time.

                • Bill Orange
                  07/16/2010 at 6:13 PM

                  The plan could’ve been to simply undress him, take a bunch of photos, and then put him to bed. When he woke up the next morning, they’ve could’ve said, “Man, you must have had a LONG day yesterday. You were totally out of it last night.”

                  I’m not saying it’s a particularly good plan. But it’s one of the few scenarios that I can come up with that fits with all of the known evidence.

                  • Bill
                    07/16/2010 at 6:24 PM

                    Ok – but what about the semen found around and in his anus? How possible could that have been explained?

                    • carolina
                      07/16/2010 at 6:35 PM

                      We don’t know how much was there. In small amounts, I doubt he’d notice.

                    • Bill
                      07/16/2010 at 6:40 PM

                      Carolina – not to be overtly graphic, but wouldn’t RW have sense it since anal intercourse was foreign to him?

                    • Bill Orange
                      07/16/2010 at 10:24 PM

                      We still haven’t seen that evidence, so we don’t know how solid it is (if at all).

    • Kate
      07/14/2010 at 11:54 AM

      sda – yes, the timeline is indeed a head scratcher, from any and all perspectives. It is near impossible to fathom how a first time houseguest winds up brutally murdered in your home without any sign of struggle or forced entry, et al, within 90 minutes of arrival.

      But yet, that is exactly what happened to Robert Wone.

      Nailing that time line to the “EAR” witness testimony of one individual could not (and should not) pass the “beyond a reasonable doubt” threshold. Although the Judge found the Thomas evidence inconclusive, I’m not so sure I can entirely agree with the Editors that she “apparently did not buy the Thomas’ testimony at all.”

      It would be great to hear that Nightline segment and listen for ourselves. It appears that it cast enough doubt for the Judge that she had to toss out the Thomas testimony. However, if Mrs. Thomas had also heard the scream, we may have had an entirely different tale here.

      But she didn’t hear the scream as she washed her dishes and listened to the Maureen Bunyan … or Nightline.

      Sigh,
      Kate

      • Southern Lurker
        07/15/2010 at 12:10 PM

        That nightline segment was indeed up, either on this site or citypaper’s. I can’t remember. I listened to it, and didn’t think the woman on NL was all that similar to Maureen Bunyan. Then there is of course the issue of Mrs Thomas watching the program, you know, with her eyes.

        • Craig
          07/15/2010 at 1:18 PM

          For the life of me (and my scribbbled notes from that day’s proceedings), I can’t seem to find out who the mystery Nightline woman was, talent or guest. I’ll still wager that didn’t figure much into Leibo’s calculations, since she put zero weight behind the Thomas testimony.

          And what were the Keystone Kops (MPD) thinking by NOT interviewing the Thomases until three weeks after Robert’s murder, on August 23, 2006? They should’ve been over there on the morning of August 3. Klowns.

          The Board of Condemnation was a DC Housing Authority agency I think. Mrs. Thomas too, was a longtime civil servant and worked at Washington Metro. COuncil of Governments for 15 years.

          • Southern Lurker
            07/15/2010 at 3:45 PM
            • NYer
              07/15/2010 at 4:21 PM

              Thanks fir the link Lurker. The patronizing comment of Connelly in the article (“dear Mr. Thomas”) is remarkable.

              • Clio
                07/15/2010 at 8:16 PM

                Thanks, Lurker. If the Thomases said that they were avid fans of Ms. Bunyan (and who wouldn’t be her fan with her sassy, short ‘do!), then why would Lynn “buy” Connolly’s “stunt” after she had disallowed it?

                Does Ms. Mabrey sound like Ms. Bunyan? Editors, could you conduct an unscientific poll of your readership here?

                • Susan
                  07/15/2010 at 9:10 PM

                  BTW, Clio, you’re not rude (you are great!)–I am referencing Connelly, of course.

                  • Clio
                    07/15/2010 at 9:31 PM

                    Understood, Susan. Love you, too! But Tom did lose some charm points with that unnecessary ageism.

                    • Susan
                      07/15/2010 at 9:44 PM

                      Right back at ya, Clio! And I agree. It was really unkind of him.

              • Susan
                07/15/2010 at 9:07 PM

                That was extremely patronizing and rude.

                I would ask seemingly obnoxious Mr. Connelly why he and his fellow defense attys presented an argument to Judge Leibovitz of Mr. Wone’s short respiration time (seconds) that directly conflicted with what his client, Mr. Zaborsky told the 911 operator in his recorded phone call the night of August 2nd: That Mr. Wone was still breathing–minutes into the call. Waiting to hear that explanation, Mr. Connelly. Waiting, V. Zaborsky. Waiting.
                Seconds,
                minutes,
                hours,
                days,
                weeks,
                almost a month now.
                Waiting.

    • Grrr
      07/14/2010 at 11:02 PM

      sda,

      Yeah, it’s almost like he showed up at Swann already dead. Impossible of course.

  2. mstewrt
    07/14/2010 at 11:35 AM

    Did Mrs. Thomas testify that she watched Nightline as well as WJLA news?

    • Craig
      07/14/2010 at 12:31 PM

      Mrs. Thomas testified that Nightline may have been on the TV while she was doing the dishes, which she normally started at 1130pm. While it may have been on the TV, she said she rarely watched it.

      Also: During Rachel Leiber’s direct of Mr. Thomas, he also said he went back to sleep after hearing the scream, Bunyan, and a trip to the bathroom. He was reawoken sometime later by the commotion out front – the EMTs and police showing up on Swann. That may give some credence to the fact that the scream may have occured befopre 1130pm, since if it was an approx. 11:45pm scream he heard (probably Zaborsky’s shriek), it would seem unlikely that he would’ve drifted off to sleep so soon. At least that’s my math.

      And Mr Thomas’ hearing was good enough to discern that he, “…heard the guys outside say ‘homicide,’ ” while watching the EMT’s from his bedroom window as they placed Robert into the ambulance (during Bernie Grimm’s cross).

      • tucsonwriter
        07/14/2010 at 4:43 PM

        Craig- I am with your above post as to the two elements that I found extremely puzzling in Judge L’s verdict. The fact that she said the Blackberry message had been sent when it had not (11:08) and her dismissal of the Thomas’s testimony. I find it very curious that she came away with exactly the opposite conclusion regarding these two pieces of evidence that I would have expected her to. However, having not attended the trial, I can’t help but wondering if she isn’t playing a bit of a devil’s advocate in that she is saying the prosecution did not follow up on these and prove these two very solid points beyond a reasonable doubt. Its puzzling. I would love to hear some more thoughts from people who were in court as to what they make of it.

        • tucsonwriter
          07/14/2010 at 4:43 PM

          Wanda! I meant wonder…..

        • carolina
          07/14/2010 at 6:59 PM

          As far as we know they were unsent, but the prosecution stipulated that they were. I am very interested in seeing how this all came about.

          • tucsonwriter
            07/15/2010 at 12:15 AM

            Kathy Wone is on record for not receiving them. I had “remembered” ( since there is so much one can read on this site) reading that they were on the Blackberry as composed and not sent – anyway she never received them.

            I posted elsewhere on this page my thoughts about this. There are so many areas the prosecution dropped the proverbial ball. It’s hard without seeing the evidence in its probably mind blowing complexity to understand what they were/are up against.

            This case is definitely book worthy. I was trolling through the press link and noticing the high turnover job wise on the prosecution’s side.

            • carolina
              07/15/2010 at 7:29 AM

              We don’t know which emails the prosecution stipulated to.

              As for a book, it seems far too incomplete to write one responsibly.

            • Bill 2
              07/15/2010 at 8:07 AM

              You’re right that this case is book worthy, tusconwriter. A book could eventually lead to solving the case in the same way that Mark Fuhrman’s book put a national spotlight on the Martha Moxley murder at a time when it was fading from view. That led to the conviction of Michael Skakel.

              • Kate
                07/15/2010 at 8:28 AM

                That was a fascinating cold case, wasn’t it?

                And such a long time for the Moxleys to wait and wonder.

                Thanks God justice finally prevailed.

                Regards,
                Kate

              • Hoya Loya
                07/15/2010 at 10:04 AM

                Bill 2 and Kate:

                I’ve commented before that the Moxley murder helped shape my world view and probably has played no small part in my wanting to see justice for Robert as well. I can assure you that Fuhrman’s sleuthing was no more welcomed by a large part of the community than this site is by some in the D.C. community. A local writer published a book around the same time as Furhman — it is dated and he fingers the “wrong” Skakel brother, but he captures the community dynamic precisely: http://www.amazon.com/Greentown-Greenwich-Americas-Wealthiest-Community/dp/1559704411.

                I should add that Greenwich has another, underreported cold case: http://www.matthewmargolies.com/. The site has not been updated in years but it gives the basics. I didn’t know Martha, but I actually did know this kid, as did anybody who ever went fishing in town.

                BTW, Michael Skakel just lost his most recent appeal but has another in the works based on ineffective assistance of counsel, claiming that Mickey Sherman was distracted by financial difficulties. Mickey recently pleaded guilty to misdemeanor tax evasion charges.

                • Kate
                  07/16/2010 at 8:43 AM

                  Thanks for the links, Hoya – yesterday evening I went digging for my copy of Furhman’s book for a re-read.

                  I’ll add the book you suggested in my reading cue.

                  Going now to the Margolies link …

                  Cheers,
                  Kate

                • Kate
                  07/16/2010 at 9:41 AM

                  Hoya – just visited the Matthew Margolies site.

                  It made me weep with sadness and frustration.

                  From our vantage point in 2010, complete with its cutting edge scientific advancements, programming such as CSI and Cold Case Files, etc., we have come to expect a great deal from our Police Departments.

                  Do we expect too much, I wonder?

                  Here in DC, I also wonder what procedural changes Chief Lanier has made within the Department to prevent the mishaps of the Wone investigation?

                  As always, Hoya, you’ve got me to put on my thinking cap.

                  Thoughts and views from you and others would be greatly appreciated,

                  Kate

      • WhatACase
        07/14/2010 at 11:14 PM

        Is there a court transcript of testimony available anywhere yet? I’d love to read the Q&A on when Mr. thomas heard the commotion outside. How is it possible that he could hear the scream, go to the bathroom, fall back asleep, and then hear the commotion outside, all in the span of a few minutes? Did the prosecution not hammer away on this? Or was the testimony less than clear?

        • Craig
          07/15/2010 at 10:24 AM

          WaC: We’re working on getting the complete set of trial transcripts. No easy feat I’m afraid but we’re on it.

          • WhatACase
            07/15/2010 at 10:33 PM

            thanks much craig!

  3. Banshee
    07/14/2010 at 12:11 PM

    OK – these are my people/demographic, the Thomas’s. I think they got short shrift. I’m happy you raised the topic.

    Per this site, a tape of the portion of Nightline, 8/2/2006, 11:45-11:52PM that included a woman’s voice was entered into evidence/stipulated on 6/23/10. (Defense Ex. #908.) You noted in your 1:15 post on that date that the judge would listen to it, but the tape would not be played in open court. So the judge would decide for herself whether Mr. Thomas could have confused the two voices. Coupled with the defense’s implications of Old Mr. Thomas’s reliability, I find this irritating/maybe insulting?

    Well, I’m projecting here a bit, but in solidarity w/fellow doddering old timers.

    Because the prosecution knew what was on the tape, I guess it was not useful or worth arguing about. But I think the timing of the scream (regardless of whose it was)is indeeed important to the timeline, and am now encouraged that the information (and the Thomas’s)might get a new life in the civil trial. Rehabilitated?

    • Clio
      07/14/2010 at 6:23 PM

      I hope, Banshee.

      Did the Thomases know the Zaborsky-Prices? Had they exchanged recipes, or even hellos, between 2003 and 2006? Had the Thomases heard other strange noises coming from the “sardine can” on other evenings?

  4. Michael
    07/14/2010 at 12:15 PM

    Funny to think of Victor and Tom Connolly going through all the news programs, searching for someone with a voice similar to Maureen Bunyan’s.

    Random thought: I find it hard to believe, during the interogations, that no one expressed any concern about finding the REAL killer. They spent the entire time explaining how they nor their companions could have done such a thing.

    • Michael
      07/14/2010 at 1:06 PM

      Really butchered that last sentence, but you get the jist.

  5. CC Biggs
    07/14/2010 at 2:18 PM

    The prosecution’s evidence in support of the timeline always seemed weak to me. First, it was never clearly established who screamed. Victor? Robert? Somebody else? The witness who heard the scream couldn’t know for sure. Second, the witness who heard the scream was not watching television, so setting the timeline based on WHAT WAS ON TELEVISION at the time was very suspect. The judge was right to put very little weight on this rickety timeline.

  6. tucsonwriter
    07/14/2010 at 4:48 PM

    Is it known whether Robert Wone took a cab or walked from Radio Free Asia? I was never clear on that detail. If he took a cab the police should have been able to track down the driver. Not that that establishes much…. as there is no argument that he arrived at the house around 10:30 but was just curious as to whether that fact had been established.

    • Susan
      07/14/2010 at 9:28 PM

      I believe it’s been posted here that he took a cab.

      • tucsonwriter
        07/14/2010 at 9:53 PM

        Thanks – it looks like there is nothing out of line with the arrival time of approximately 10:30 pm. I looked for some other evidence as somewhere I had read that Radio Free Asia had a card entry system that kept records of when someone swiped in and out. I just had to verify it for myself.

        I was rereading a lot of the press -especially the early articles. In terms of what wasn’t introduced as evidence because of procedural mishandling. You would think there would be some entity that schools all of these law enforcement people in how not to F***-up a murder scene. I mean, I Dj and I have managed to not play one of the FCC no no words in over 8 years (I think I did play one once – when Hunter S Thompson died and I played a vinyl Warren Zevon album that didn’t have a review posted onto it like our CD’s do). In this case, we are talking about the FBI, the police, etc and they still screwed up the evidence?

        This (editors) is one of the angles that will make a fascinating book. How could law enforcement have screwed this up so badly – and did they? Have we gone wrong in terms of the drift towards evidentiary certainty away from moral certainty? I think the fact that Robert Wone was such an exemplary person, same with Judge L- she has been referred to as Legislative Royalty……

        *********

        I just recently met a real life private investigator. I am not a lawyer, etc and didn’t realize until I conversed with this person how much lawyers rely on private investigators to do the real work. It was pretty fascinating. I went with this person to an interview with a police officer where the P.I. walked them through their police report. The cop was a rookie and the PI got new information out of the police officer that wasn’t in the report that was pretty material in light of the charges.

        I noticed in reading the press releases that there has been a lot of turn-over in the prosecution over the years. That would be another interesting angle for the book – just what happened in the investigation, what mistakes were made, what heads rolled, etc.

        • Clio
          07/18/2010 at 12:46 PM

          This blog is “the book”, a collective oeuvre of social history and cultural studies mixed with legal analysis, criminology, and psychological theory.

          We do need a “Deep Throat” from the other side, though, to give “the book” and the case a relatively “happy ending”.

  7. NYer
    07/14/2010 at 5:13 PM

    Craig – thank you for this most important post. When I read the opinion, the cursory analysis of the Thomas testimony I found to be appallingly dismissive and as Banshee put it, insulting to the witness. While there is the assertion by the Judge that it was “clear from the evidence that Mr. Wone could not have survived, untreated, in PEA for very long, which is echoed by Hoya that Robert’s “PEA would be of limited duration absent medical intervention” it’s notable that the judges phrasing (“very long”) and Hoya’s (“limited duration”) are nebulous in themselves.

    Thomas’ however delineates a very specific time range in which the scream was heard. It would convince me beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a delay in placing the 911 call, unless I believed that he was mistaken or lying. He has no reason to lie, and there’s reason to believe Thomas was mistaken- it’s not like there’s a dispute about what he heard, interpreted or when- to call into question his testimony is to call into question the simple fact whether he heard Bunyan or the scream AT ALL.

    Shame on Leibowitz. Pure forest for the trees stuff. There’s an old saying in Evidence Law- “A brick is not a wall.” That is definitely true, just as a multitude of bricks make a wall, and in this case, in my opinion, a wall that obstructs justice.

    • carolina
      07/14/2010 at 7:10 PM

      One thing that bothers me is that after all that testimony about PEA being a waste basket into which various uncategorized information is tossed, she still allowed it to rule the day. She completely ignored the idea that a big old hole was far more likely to leak for a period of time before tamponade would occur, followed by PEA.

      Whatever, she called it as she saw it and that’s that. I have no trouble believing at least 2/3 of the trouple sleep well. I doubt even the upcoming civil proceedings concern them much.

    • tucsonwriter
      07/14/2010 at 8:39 PM

      I found this helpful from Judge L’s decision: “That is, I cannot find beyond a reasonable doubt as to each individual defendant, as if he were being tried alone, that he knew enough about the murder of Robert Wone….”

      It is really hard to tell from the evidence who did what or who knew what. I found her logic when read in its totality to be fair and convincing. I know what I would do if I were investigating this case and what leads I would follow. But so far in terms of actual evidence, there is more evidence about what didn’t happen (no intruder) but very little as to what did happen.

      She chose one piece of evidence to support her findings – which was the knife handle being wiped clean. ( I posted something more about this below. ) Joe Price told the police he handled the knife, which means it should have had his fingerprints on it. Did he know that it was wiped clean? Who wiped it clean? The fact that it was wiped clean is a bad fact for the defense but the prosecution didn’t go anywhere with that as far as I can tell.

  8. Clio
    07/14/2010 at 6:15 PM

    Who would watch Nightline in 2006? In 1990, perhaps, but in 2006? Had Ted Koppel retired by that point, or was the woman’s voice alluded to by Tom that of a summer substitute host?

  9. Jackie
    07/14/2010 at 8:18 PM

    I am so glad there is now a deeper ongoing discusssion of Judge L’s decision on here. That has been so needed. It might help clarify some important things necessary for Mrs Wone’s civil case, as well as, it might give the judiciary some things to ponder in future cases. It might even clarify a murder case down the road. Who knows who all might be reading this or be passing info along. There are some really intelligent thinkers here. Keep up the good work and thanks’s Posters!

  10. tucsonwriter
    07/14/2010 at 8:21 PM

    I notice that Judge L in her Written Order posits that when Robert Wone told his wife his plans for the evening he said he would be taking a taxi and expected to arrive at Dupont Circle around 11 pm. What if he arrived closer to eleven and the time line is even shorter than previously thought? That would make the whole evening even more “surreal.”

    One item that seems particularly telling is the knife handle being wiped clean of fingerprints, whereas Joe Price told detectives that it might have his fingerprints on it. I think this is a key reason for her decision. It seems to me, that based on this evidence, she reached the conclusion that someone other than Joe Price wiped the handle clean and that Joe Price did not know that when he spoke to the police. That, as far as I can tell from outside of the courtroom, seems to be an item the prosecution did not follow up on at all and the Judge is pointing out for the next round to pick up the ball on. If these guys are innocent and Joe Price said he handled the knife, why was the knife handle clean of all fingerprints?

    Another interesting point she made is “But that the defendants seemed so certain that he (MIchael Price) was not the murderer…. is additional evidence that the defendants, at least one of them, knew who had murdered Mr. Wone.” p. 32

    In terms of the Thomas’ statement she simply says “however none of this evidence is conclusive” re: defendants time line. I don’t see that statement as putting down the Thomas’ in any way.

    My favorite line: “Overall, the defendants’ story that an intruder committed the offense is incredible beyond a reasonable doubt.” Home run – the ball is out of the park.

    I wonder who, now that the trial is over and Judge L can speculate…. who she imagines did it.

    After reading her written order, I think I agree with her in terms of evidentiary certainty vs. moral certainty. Its pretty hard to tell who did what in terms of conspiracy with the evidence at hand. It almost seems farce-like.

    The one thing that I think hasn’t been dealt with or explored is interior noise in the house. How is easy is it to determine other people’s movements inside the house? Is the house extremely well insulated and therefor if you are upstairs you can’t hear what someone is doing on the second floor? What are the interior acoustics like? I don’t know if that was brought up by the prosecution other than the fact that there were hard wood floors. I know in my home sound carries really well. I can tell exactly what is going on back in my bedroom. Our house was designed with an open floor plan, which I thought was really cool when we bought it, but have since reconsidered due to the way noise travels inside. If you can hear a pin drop on the second floor when you are on the first or the third, then how could someone not know what was going on? On the other hand, if Victor was upstairs with the tv on watching Project Runway, then he would not hear very much. (Which came on when?)

    • curiousdc
      07/14/2010 at 10:36 PM

      Could the jurors in the civil trial request a “recreation” of the scream by visiting the Price/Thomas homes?

    • tucsonwriter
      07/15/2010 at 12:21 AM

      Never mind. I don’t wonder. At one point she said Dylan Ward. The police arrested him in Florida. ETC.

    • 310 Observer
      07/15/2010 at 8:32 AM

      Did the police ever try to find the taxi driver? Obviously there are hundreds of cab drivers in the city, but I believe most keep manifests of where they pick up and drop off. If they had been able to track down the cab driver, it might have helped shed some light on what time Robert actually arrived at Swann, and therefore clarify the timeline a bit.

  11. tucsonwriter
    07/14/2010 at 9:11 PM

    This is worth re-reading.

    http://www.metroweekly.com/news/?ak=2253

    • Susan
      07/14/2010 at 9:35 PM

      I think that article may have some facts wrong. I don’t believe RW and KW had been married three years in 2004. I believe it was less than that. Also, I don’t think RW’s parents were immigrants. I think they were born here.

      • Kate
        07/15/2010 at 8:44 AM

        Yes, Susan – Robert Wone was fourth generation. I believe that can be found in the Washingtonian article by Jaffe?

        Cheers,
        Kate

        • Susan
          07/15/2010 at 8:08 PM

          Thanks, Kate. Looks like that one article got it wrong.

      • 310 Observer
        07/15/2010 at 8:57 AM

        The article says that in 2006 (not 2004), they had been married three years.

  12. tucsonwriter
    07/14/2010 at 9:36 PM

    This can be read in its entire, original format if you click on the press tab

    As far as if you were researching Dylan Wards movements and what is known about Robert Wone’s actual movements on the night in question – a little investigative journalism reveals”

    Also in one of the articles I was reading under the press tab- Kathy Wone stated that she never received any emails from Robert Wone. So if they were “sent” they were never received. I would think that means they were never sent. Maybe that wouldn’t be evidence but couldn’t the prosecution have used her email account to back into what happened with regards to email? I am not a techie but if I get important emails I save them. That would have been an important email if she had received it.

    The Robert Wone Stabbing: Anatomy of a Murder Case
    Washington Post
    RE:Dylan Ward “After graduating summa cum laude from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 1992, he taught English on the Japanese island of Kyushu, where he befriended a couple who owned a restaurant. That got him interested in cooking, and he enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America in New York’s Hudson Valley. With a two-year degree in culinary arts, he worked as a caterer in Oregon for a while, then quit in 1996 to teach English again, this time in Taiwan.
    When a friend in Taipei, Taiwan, opened a small publishing business in 1999, Ward joined her. The company, called House of the Tiger Aunt, produced storybooks, which Ward helped write, and other materials used to teach English in Taiwan’s primary grades. That got him interested in children’s literature theory, and in 2001 he began studying for a master’s degree in the subject at Boston’s Simmons College.”

    Re: RW movements: Wone, no longer with Covington & Burling, now the new general counsel at Radio Free Asia, got off the Metro near his office in Dupont Circle and telephoned his wife. He had worked all day, then had sat through an evening seminar in grant law at a conference center downtown. It was about 9:30 when he spoke with Kathy Wone, who was home in Oakton. He let her know he was headed back to the radio station at 2025 M St. NW to introduce himself to the night staff.

    Colleagues said he arrived at the radio station before 10. At 10:22 p.m., finished shaking hands with the staff, he called the Swann Street townhouse from his office, saying he would be there shortly.

  13. Susan
    07/15/2010 at 12:05 AM

    This ground has been covered before but I was reading the June 8th post here. It reads, in part “Two minutes and forty-five seconds into Victor Zaborsky’s 911 call, the dispatcher asks him if Robert is still breathing, a question he repeats to the nearby Joe Price, who is providing the first-aid to their stricken friend.

    No response from Price. Fifteen seconds go by until the dispatcher repeats her question; Zaborsky finally answers, “He’s breathing, but we need help now.”

    As noted, this element may complicate the defense team’s cardiac surgery experts are to testify that a single knife thrust into Robert’s chest immobilized and killed him instantly, perhaps within a heartbeat.

    And that is what happened. I wonder if this will come up in the civil trial. V. Zaborsky said R. Wone was “breathing” and this is minutes after his call to 911. Remember, too, that he and Price, in their account had to get up and go downstairs, so that’s more time. But their defense team argued that Mr. W would have been alive only seconds.

  14. Susan
    07/15/2010 at 12:10 AM

    I don’t believe they corrected their defense team during the trial. Was that missed by someone? Did VZ ask to testify to correct his attorney, etc., to say “No, Robert WAS breathing, for at least two minutes after we found him.”

    I want to be fair to all parties, and not be too sarcastic, but their defense seems to have been in direct conflict with their 911 call. And it’s been pointed out before here, but it’s worth pointing out again, in anticipation of the civil trial.

  15. anoninny
    07/15/2010 at 1:30 AM

    OK, amateur sleuths, here’s your first assignment. Have you looked into the Thomas’ relations with their neighbors? Any police records or civil litigation that could shed light on this, on how the man who retired from the Department of Condemnation felt about having gay neighbors? I have. And I was VERY, VERY surprised. Maybe you should have a look-see.

    • AnnaZed
      07/15/2010 at 1:57 AM

      What is the Department of Condemnation? If you have information, by all means state what it is.

      • AnnaZed
        07/15/2010 at 1:58 AM

        After all, Joe has made it clear what his attitude is about having African Americans for neighbors, so it’s only fair.

    • bigfatmike
      07/15/2010 at 4:09 AM

      I would be interested in learning anything that would shed light on the events of that August night.

      But my general attitude toward communications like yours is:

      if what you found is not important enough to share, then why should I waste time retracing your steps.

      I realize I have not expressed that in the most diplomatic way possible. But I think it is a reasonable question.

      Surely there is a way we can all cooperate to present the relevant data.

      After all, no matter what our view of the personalities or the data, we all want the truth.

    • Michael
      07/15/2010 at 7:30 AM

      Let’s just pretend for a moment that William Thomas hates gay people. In what way does that affect his hearing?

      • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
        07/15/2010 at 8:49 AM

        Hilarious.

    • carolina
      07/15/2010 at 7:47 AM

      Oh like the defense wouldn’t have had a field day with that. Back it up or back up.

    • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
      07/15/2010 at 8:35 AM

      I think if it was relavent, the defense team would have been ALL OVER IT. But they weren’t. Nada. And considering one of the defense strategies was anti-gay sentiments….

    • Kate
      07/15/2010 at 9:16 AM

      Anoninny – It would be great if you would share some links with us if you have discovered interesting background information.

      But in the meantime, I did a wee search myself. Please correct me if I’m mistaken, but I thought Mr. Thomas had retired from the DC Housing Authority. I could find no specific Department of Condemnation listed on their website. I then did a more specific search under the Department of Development and Modernization, and again, no Condemnation Department.

      Clearly, I am no amateur sleuth – how about a clue? I’m now quite curious.

      Kate

      • anoninny
        07/15/2010 at 1:58 PM

        check the court transcripts when the editors fork over the pool of donated cash to get them. and CDinDC, not striking does not mean there was nothing to strike. stratigery and such, you know

        • Craig
          07/15/2010 at 2:15 PM

          Pool of donated cash? You’re a liar. And now you have something on the Thomases. You talk a big game, son. Put up or STFU. Show us what you have by cob.

          • anoninny
            07/15/2010 at 2:24 PM

            go look yourself. you have enough lawyers with access to court records in the posse. or just wait. it will come out. trust me. (p.s., the “donated cash” was more prospective than actual. i was only saying that i am sure people WOULD chip in, as many have already kindly stated. so chill, groundskeeper willie)

            • Bill Orange
              07/15/2010 at 2:35 PM

              If you have something useful to say, please feel free to say it. If all you want to do is dance around like a five-year-old singing, “I know something you don’t know!”, then you shouldn’t be surprised that you aren’t being taken seriously.

              I, for one, tend to agree with the posters above, who have said that anything truly incriminating would’ve come up in the criminal trial.

            • Craig
              07/15/2010 at 2:54 PM

              I didn’t ask the “posse,” I asked you. COB or get lost.

      • Rapt in MD
        07/15/2010 at 3:29 PM

        Hello – there is a Board of the Condemnation of Insantary Buildings which could presumably be part of the housing authority/department…possibly it used to be called the Dept. of Condemnation?? What a nice thing to say at a High School Reunion when you say where you work…

        • Clio
          07/15/2010 at 8:37 PM

          Well, if that is true and that’s a really, really big if, how could a clerk with a Condemnation Board be embroiled in an anti-gay controversy … unless he and other officials condemned “unsavory” gay establishments — taverns, “dirty” bookstores, and baths — during the heyday of heterosexual supremacy (1935-1995)?

          And, if that fantasy is true, then I’m sure that the Board shut down far more girlie/het places during that time for the same reasons — so, no dice there, even for that stretch of the cliometric imagination, anoninny.

    • Ivan
      07/15/2010 at 9:51 AM

      Anoninny – next time you see Hamburglar give him my regards.

      • Kate
        07/15/2010 at 9:58 AM

        Too funny, Ivan.

        • Rebecca
          07/15/2010 at 12:40 PM

          Kate, I tried Google and found something that indicates “Department of Condemnation” may have something to do with the USDA and meat inspections. Couldn’t get much beyond that, however.

          So Ivan, your Hamburglar comment could be right on! 🙂

          • AnnaZed
            07/15/2010 at 12:43 PM

            I am pretty sure that “Department of Condemnation” is naught but a not very well executed funny.

          • Kate
            07/15/2010 at 12:55 PM

            Thanks Rebecca – I wonder where I miss-remembered Mr. Thomas having worked for the DC Housing Authority?

            Little wonder nothing came up on the DC site.

            I suppose I would no longer be a great contestant on Jeopardy … too sad.

            Cheers,
            Kate

            • Kate
              07/16/2010 at 8:31 AM

              A thanks to Rapt and Craig – I’m happy to read I’m not losing my marbles (just yet) in regards to Thomas’ employment at the Housing Authority.

              Look out Alex T., I’m still ready for my Jeopardy closeup.

              Methinks when anoninny points to “police records or civil litigation” he/she must be referring to the time Mr. Thomas called the police on someone for “walking while gay” on Swann Street.

              Cheers,
              Kate

  16. Ivan
    07/15/2010 at 7:36 AM

    Oh, BTW editors, clever headline.

    • Kate
      07/15/2010 at 8:50 AM

      Yes, I thought so, as well, Ivan – thanks for saying that.

    • NYer
      07/15/2010 at 1:05 PM

      The subheadline made me chuckle as well. Craig has really getting the legal lingo down.

  17. CC Biggs
    07/15/2010 at 2:27 PM

    The judge’s verdict/order says: “Overall, the defendants’ story that an intruder committed the offense is incredible beyond a reasonable doubt.”

    So then it is beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendants lied to police when they told this story. That should have been enough right there to support conviction.

  18. Hoya Loya
    07/15/2010 at 3:15 PM

    But she goes on to say “that does not answer the question whether each defendant knew this at the time he spoke to investigators on August 2-3, 2006, or later in talking to others … I do not find beyond a reasonable doubt that the statements of any defendant were so knowingly or demonstrably false that they alone establish the charges.”

    Intent was not shown beyond a reasonable doubt with regard to any of the three individuals.

  19. Three's Company
    07/16/2010 at 12:14 AM

    Are you folks bored?

    So much discussion that never seems to end.

    The judge has decided.

    Time to move on.

    • Bill Orange
      07/16/2010 at 12:27 AM

      We ARE moving on. To the next trial.

    • Michael
      07/16/2010 at 7:19 AM

      Three’s Company is right, guys. Time to shut this site down.

      lollllll

    • Clio
      07/16/2010 at 10:21 AM

      Three was company, dear, or was it? There was always that need for another third at 1509 Swann. Ennui may have been at the root of that desire, but this case, unfortunately, is never boring.

      BTW, I don’t think Joe and Dyl or, even less likely, Joe and Vic, are looking for another third now — what would Aunt Marcia say about that!

      And, what did the families of the defendants think if they have seen Uncle Michael’s Manhunt ad on WMRW — with him boasting about going from “mild to wild”? Did they laugh until they cried, or were they repulsed?

      • Kate
        07/16/2010 at 10:30 AM

        Dearest Clio – that’s fabulous and many thanks.

        I can now openly admit that I used to have a serious young girl crush on John Ritter in Three’s Company.

        Those were the days of crush-inducing, crappy but lovable sit-coms.

        Cheers,
        Kate

        • NYer
          07/16/2010 at 10:37 AM

          I myself couldn’t decide whether the show was funnier with Roper (Norman Fell) as landlord, or Furley (Don Knotts). But as much a comedic genius Knotts is- what’s certain is the show lost something when it lost the “Roper close-up” shot of him laughing.

          • Kate
            07/16/2010 at 10:53 AM

            Ya know, NYer – I’m giving a thumbs-up for the “Roper close-up,” but for me the overall edge goes to Knotts!

            Isn’t it funny that we remember such silliness?

            Regards,
            Kate

            • Clio
              07/16/2010 at 2:40 PM

              Kate and NYer, it was definitely Knotts with those dreadfully pastel ascots: I love a man who can/does wear an ascot in public!

              • Kate
                07/16/2010 at 4:54 PM

                Ascots, a definite yes. I used to see quite a few mature men donning this venerable accoutrement during our time in England.

                But here in Northern Virginia? Only at very horsey set events.

                Too bad, I find them to be quite sexy … except on Don Knotts, in pink or baby blue.

                Cheers,
                Kate

  20. Three Strikes
    07/16/2010 at 8:58 AM

    This blog serves the invaluable purpose of getting to the truth, and is here for all such people, no matter how few or many participate, no matter how small a detail or question.

    Not designed to be frivolous at all, it can, nontheless, be quite entertaining in moments.

    There is much preparation now, and anticipation towards the next trial.

    Let the blog continue! Let the bored seek thrills elsewhere.

  21. Michael
    07/16/2010 at 12:56 PM

    A friendly reminder to this blog community, for the next time your house guest gets stabbed and you call 911:

    – ALWAYS preface your emergency with an adverb (Apparently… Evidently…)

    – When the dispatcher asks if your house guest is breathing, explain to her that you are on a different floor (how could you possibly know if he is breathing?? It’s not like you were just in the room with him)

    – When the dispatcher asks who stabbed your friend, tell her you don’t know, but you think it was an intruder because you heard a door chime.

    – When the dispatcher asks (again) if your house guest is breathing, tell her he IS (evidently, now) breathing, but that you need help right away.

    – Without being prompted, let the dispatcher know that the killer has one of your knives.

    – If you’re asked for a description of the killer, tell her you have no description! Mention (again) that you heard a chime and screams. (That’s as close to a descpription as you can give)

    – ALWAYS ask the dispatcher for the time.

    – Continue stressing that you need help RIGHT NOW!

    – As you’re walking to the door to let the paramedics in, start getting emotional (the situation).

    – ALWAYS break into hysterics as soon are face-to-face with emergency personnel.

    Keep these tips and tricks in mind, and you’ll be calling 911 like a pro in NO TIME AT ALL.

    • Michael
      07/16/2010 at 1:25 PM

      *as soon as you are face-to-face

    • Craig
      07/16/2010 at 4:11 PM

      And by all means, never grab the nearest phone(s) to make that 911 call.

      • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
        07/17/2010 at 10:56 AM

        I say go to the neighbor’s house….you can confirm what news anchor is on tv at that time.

    • Clio
      07/17/2010 at 8:36 AM

      And, be sure to be freshly showered and in a sexy white robe to greet both the male and female officers dispatched. Failing that, always wear a pair of white Speedo-cut undies, even if you may not be tanned. The women officers love it: trust the Casanova of Swann — Joe!

  22. James
    07/16/2010 at 2:03 PM

    Do some research on Mr. Thomas. he has had several lawsuits filed on him by neighbors for harassment and he even tried to run one over with his truck. he would do anything necessday to get the gays out of his necessary.

    • Michael
      07/16/2010 at 2:12 PM

      William Thomas told police that he heard a scream while Maureen Bunyan was casting the news on TV. He did not know when the 911 call was placed, so how could he know that the information he gave detectives would incriminate the trouple? This had nothing to do with having gay neighbors.

      If Mr. Thomas was gay, you think he would have opted out of providing THE EXACT SAME information to police? Give me a break. He could possibly hate gays more than anyone else on the planet – it doesn’t change what he heard that night or when he heard it.

    • Bill Orange
      07/16/2010 at 2:37 PM

      Again, feel free to post a link. But if you’re just going to invite the rest of us to go snipe hunting, I think we’re just going to leave it for the defense attorneys.

    • chilaw79
      07/16/2010 at 2:56 PM

      What exactly do you mean by “out of his necessary”?

      I note that Mr. Thomas has a common name (William Thomas) and even the name Claudia Thomas is pretty common in DC. I assume that the Claudia Thomas who lives on Swann Street is not the same Dr. Claudia Thomas who graduated from Vassar and was an orthopedic surgeon at Howard.

      I am relatively sure that the defense counsel would have located any potential bias witnesses, including you.

      I have friends who reside on Swann Street and they have not recounted any of the information you present. As a result, I would ask for any citations or other information you can present, including any record of you calling the police to report the attempted vehicular assault.

    • Clio
      07/17/2010 at 8:57 AM

      Does Mr. Thomas even own a truck? I thought that the neighborhood was strictly “Mercedes, Mercedes, Mercedes”. You are making Swann Street sound like a trailer park.

      Why is the credibility of Mr. Thomas being challenged in this way at this time? Could it be that Team Price is waiting to field-test these possible pieces of dirt here before trial?

      • carolina
        07/17/2010 at 11:02 AM

        You’d think Joe had better things to do than toss red herrings on a blog.

        If any of this were true, I can’t believe the defense wouldn’t have brought it forth. So far, all we’ve heard are stories from new and anonymous blog posters with no substantiating proof.

    • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
      07/17/2010 at 11:18 AM

      James says: “to get the gays out of his necessary.”

      LOL

    • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
      07/17/2010 at 11:38 AM

      I hate to say all, but it’s true. I did 5 minutes of research and found this:

      2006 CA 007859 B WOOD, EDWARD C Vs. THOMAS, WILLIAM D

      the neighbors at 1505 Swann filed a complaint for harrassment in Oct 2006 and were granted a temporary restraining order against Mr. Thomas in November 2006.

      • Jeana
        07/17/2010 at 11:53 AM

        Quick work, CD! Aren’t prior bad acts admissible to impeach a witness? If so, why didnt’ the defense use this? Possible, I guess, that it wasn’t factually relevant. Your thoughts?

        • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
          07/17/2010 at 12:02 PM

          Jeana, perhaps there was more than meets the eye. My next post showed that one of the residents that filed for restraining order had his own troubles. The records didn’t say what the trouble was that got him released on his own recognizance, but maybe the problems began with Mr. Thomas’s neighbors. Who knows.

      • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
        07/17/2010 at 11:59 AM

        doing a little more research, looks like there may have been some misbehavior on the other side of Mr. Thomas’s fence, as well. someone was released on their own recognizance prior to the harassment and restraining order events. Hmmm. Wonder what that was all about.

        Perhaps there should be no mud slinging.

        • Jeana
          07/17/2010 at 1:02 PM

          Ah, yes. Sometimes the facts are far less interesting than the speculation. Obviously the prosecution had no concern about calling Mr. T as a witness despite this “mysterious” matter in his background. Thanks for the research.

      • Clio
        07/17/2010 at 1:17 PM

        Interesting find! CD, you should receive anoninny’s Amateur Sleuth Award for 2010. LOL!

        Who knew that Swann Street kept police so busy in 2006! It should be noted that the harassment complaint was apparently filed two months after the murder. And, does Mr. Edward Wood (not the D-list-movie director from the 1950s!) know our trouple?

        For Claudia’s sake, I hope that that alleged harassment is not sexual harassment — Swann could only accommodate one cad at a time.

        • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
          07/17/2010 at 2:13 PM

          I’d like to thank the academy….

        • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
          07/17/2010 at 2:13 PM

          I’d like to thank the academy…..

          • anoninny
            07/19/2010 at 4:11 PM

            good work, CDinDC. looks like you have more get-up-and-go than the average editor/poster. so, before you drown in your well-earned laurels–if you feel like it, and only if you feel like it–you can always go a bit deeper. look deeper at the case you found. and look for others, several troubling others. a good hint is this — Mr. Thomas can be found in legal and other records as William D. Thomas, William D.B. Thomas and William B. Thomas. But, believe me, it is all the same guy — unless they all live at the same address with a woman named Claudia in Washington, DC, USA, Earth, Milky Way. If you want to go into the bonus round, check out property records, too. He and Claudia, whether separately or jointly, own MASSIVE amounts of property (including, oddly enough, several houses on Swann Street). Not bad for working for the Dept. of Condemnation and the metro. Come to think of it…

            • Clio
              07/19/2010 at 10:54 PM

              Intriguing, anoninny! But, where is the relevance of all of this sociology? Your point is …

              How does Mr. Thomas as landlord impeach his credibility as a witness? Let me guess — it doesn’t!

  23. Susan
    07/16/2010 at 8:40 PM

    Today’s Washington Post Metro section has a good article about a homicide lieutenant who is the head of one squad that has had the “highest closure rate in the city.” A family member of hers was murdered before she was lieut. but when she was a cop on the street. It remains unsolved, partly because as she says, “the investigation [by police] was botched…It’s still open because they never did a proper investigation from the beginning.” Amazing admission and I’m sure not surprising to many of us to read.

    Her policy is “Cut no corners. Work all angles.”
    Worth reading:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/15/AR2010071502613.html

    • Clio
      07/17/2010 at 8:29 AM

      Wow! If only she had been assigned this case, instead of Waid (now in Florida yet still on the official poster), Wagner (of “come to Jesus” infamy), and Norris (let’s talk about the decor of 1509 Swann on a walking tour with Joe). “Working all angles” may have been done by the defense from the get-go, but that was apparently not the case for this clumsy yet dilatory (and still “very active”) investigation.

      Why were the Thomases questioned almost a month later — did the police “buy” Joe’s intruder theory after all, or were they just overwhelmed with other cases? Why didn’t they do a thorough search of Mr. Hixson’s residence? Did they examine all dumpsters within walking distance? Did they ever depose Tom and John, Sarah’s TV-watching hosts for the night?

      • Kate
        07/17/2010 at 9:45 AM

        Yes, Clio – great questions, one and all. I have always marveled that it took the detectives more than three weeks to interview the neighbors. Doesn’t proper procedure call for them to be knocking on doors at the break of dawn on the morning after the murder?

        As overworked and understaffed as the MPD may be, initial interviewing of the folks you mention should have occurred in a far more timely manner. It is very difficult to cut the MPD any slack in this case. So much seems to have gone wrong here – so many detectives, so little communication between the various investigators.

        Perhaps I’ve seen one too many episodes of “The First 48,” I’ve always assumed that constant communication was a given. And yet, if memory serves correctly, trial testimony indicates that the various detectives, officers, etc. didn’t have a full meeting until about a week after the event.

        A week? Did I remember that correctly?

        Frustrating, isn’t it?

        Regards,
        Kate

        • Cat in Cleveland
          07/19/2010 at 5:25 PM

          Even better – why did they wait days to search the basement apartment, and what was the garage they searched weeks later? Weeks later? Seriously. . .

    • Kate
      07/17/2010 at 8:59 AM

      Morning, Susan – when I read this article yesterday morning, I immediately thought of the Wone case. It’s quite surprising for the homicide lieutenant to criticize her fellows – must have been one helluva botched investigation.

      I wonder how many changes Chief Lanier has-or is making-in regards to police investigative procedures in regards to the following:

      1. Securing the crime scene and its evidence
      2. Initial interviews of witnesses/suspects
      3. Crime scene process/analysis, including secure chain of evidence possession

      Former LAPD Chief Bill Bratton (as well as former NY Police Commissioner!) discusses these issues in his speeches regarding police procedure. He’s a marvelous public speaker – and certainly knows how to shape up a police department, having done so in both LA and NY. It’s all about process and procedure. Not only does strict adherence to proper procedure increase crime prevention and case solving, it also is a catalyst for improving police moral.

      His book “Turn Around” provides a fascinating read and provides an excellent blue print for effective policing. Although a procedural blue print is essential, it does require the right training and personnel to make it work!

      Regards,
      Kate

      • Susan
        07/17/2010 at 4:20 PM

        Afternoon, Kate. Thanks for that good book recommendation. I will see if I can get it.

        Re what you and Clio wrote about timeliness and questioning the Thomas’s so much late, as you know from reading that article, something similar happened to that detective. I believe she had spent the last hours with her murdered brother-in-law but the investigators never asked to speak with her even though she spent “hous” with the killed man before his death. Etc., etc.

        And I wonder about Lanier now. I sent an email asking Lanier who replaced Waid on the case so the flyers can be updated. No answer. Seems flyers posted all over–the nation–would point out to all involved that the case is still ongoing, but without the cooperation of the MPD!!!!……..it doesn’t look like it will go far.

        Maybe someone reading this, with MPD contacts, could get us this information. Maybe someone else interested in getting that correct info. to this website/blog will take the initiative to follow up.

        • Susan
          07/17/2010 at 4:21 PM

          Sticking “r” key. Please excuse!

        • Clio
          07/17/2010 at 10:07 PM

          That poster really needs to be updated. Even though “the persons of interest” are known and have been identified by the police, anyone to whom these persons have confided anything should have the name of the correct detective and their contact info at the MPD.

  24. Susan
    07/16/2010 at 8:49 PM

    Question–Did I read correctly that there were no fingerprints found on the fence, gate latch, etc.?

    Everyone has their speculations. I was thinking that with JP on alt.com and D. Ward plying his full-body (HIS full body–knees, legs, etc.–it’s on his advert)trade, if either had incoming business, I’m sure there were a number of strangers in their lives. Plus with brother M. Price and his unsavory company, and possible drug providers, there might have been a lot of questionable traffic in 1509 Swann.

    I know the Wone’s are looking into getting Verizon phone records for the civil trial. I was thinking: What if because of JP’s and DW’s outside activities, they used disposable phones for their respective trades? The kind you pick up for cheap and can’t be traced. I wonder if police have followed up on documented phone lines. If there’s nothing tying the calls recorded there with individuals connected to their private enterprises, then maybe there were disposable phones that ended up possibly going the way of where many speculate the cameras, playmats, etc., went.

    • Susan
      07/16/2010 at 9:03 PM

      I think my overall point with that last post (now that I’ve re-read it) is that there might have been a fourth who is someone police may not know about, from the alt. or “massage” connections that was present earlier in the evening, the part from 9-10:30 that doesn’t seem to be accounted for, who might have removed these items for JP and DW–and VZ, someone who has done business with JP and DW through untraceable, disposable phones. JP kept his personal pics on his computer, but maybe something like trysts with strangers he took on a separate phone, esp. if he found out the guys were untrustworthy, etc., this would protect him from them knowing too much about him, etc. Others might get entry to his home.

      If DW was actually engaged in prostitution, he might want a disposable, untraceable calling card as well. Possible, I think.

      • Bill Orange
        07/16/2010 at 10:22 PM

        It’s definitely possible, but I doubt it. From what we’ve seen so far, neither Joe nor Dylan were terribly discreet. I’ll bet you their cell phone records will tell you all you need to know.

    • carolina
      07/16/2010 at 10:29 PM

      If you would use your law firm email for your porn biz, what would stop you from making calls on your own phone?

      • Susan
        07/16/2010 at 10:35 PM

        Did he actually use that email address for the porn biz? I had thought that hadn’t been established yet. Interesting.

        There’s always DW. Still, hopefully there will be info. from any registered phones. But it wouldn’t surprise me if at least DW used a disposable one.

        • carolina
          07/17/2010 at 10:58 AM

          Yes, he used his own work email.

  25. Susan
    07/16/2010 at 10:55 PM

    My thought is that there could have been a fourth person who might not be known to the police. I really hope they have and continue to use phone records.

    I also think that with alt.com and that special massage sideline, not to mention the brother and his affiliates, a lot of individuals associated with JP and DW that would not likely associate with the cops or come forward to speak with them.

    I think it’s likely S. Morgan could share more with law enforcement to shed more light on that home and the relationships. I hope that if she has more info. she will do the right thing for Justice, etc. It’s really not just the Wones and her friends and their families who are affected or whose lives have been at stake. One murder reverbates. A universe ends, a neighborhood changes, and on and on.

    It seems once blood is on someone’s hands, no amt. of soap and water and cleaning up will ever remove it. It’s a permanent stain.

    • AnnaZed
      07/17/2010 at 1:28 AM

      Out, damned spot! out, I say!

      • Kate
        07/17/2010 at 9:21 AM

        Lady Macbeth, indeed, Anna – by the way, your new avatar looks like a pastel Darth Vader to my poor old eyes (such a tiny pix). What is it exactly? Inquiring minds want to know.

        And Susan, the fourth person – someone known to the residents – seems to have resonated with Judge L. to a certain degree. I have wondered what Dylan was doing in his room when Victor got home earlier that day. Was he really working out? Was the door to his room open so that Victor actually saw him.

        I wonder if we will ever know …

        Regards,
        Kate

        • AnnaZed
          07/17/2010 at 11:48 AM

          That is the culturally and sexually (and every which other way one can conceive of) confused Hello-Kitty-Darth-Vader. I think he fits right in on this blog.

          • Clio
            07/17/2010 at 1:49 PM

            He is indeed very appropriate for our subject matter. He seems to embody, as you point out, AZ, the volatile paradox of “Sparkly Cat” and alt dot bomb all rolled up into one!

            • Susan
              07/17/2010 at 4:41 PM

              Yes, fun avatar. Thanks! Miss seeing Bea’s. Hopefully she will return with some postings soon.

              I guess I was channelling L MacBeth back there. But in J’s case, it’s likely true. I don’t know if he murdered RW, but he admitted cleaning off the blood to a friend and now we all know about it. That blood didn’t get washed away, and he neglected to report that to police. V knows about it from the mercedes tryst, but he didn’t share with MPD either.

              That whole timeline around 6 pm is so odd. Why would V go look for J at the gym? Then return so soon? Why not call, or wait until he got home. Odd. And S leaving so soon and missing D though he seemed to swoop in and get into a workout so soon afterwards. And yeah, did V see him? I thought his door was supposed to be closed.

              But I think it was the toxins from the burnt steaks that set everyone off……

              I also think there had to be drugs. With the burnt steaks, the water problem, V returning home early, the heat…. I’m sure they shared that bottle of wine….and something else.

              • Clio
                07/17/2010 at 6:24 PM

                Yes, Susan, the evening up until Robert’s visit was a total snore, as presented to us by the former residents of 1509 Swann, Michael Price, and Louis Hinton.

                The “official” story begs the following questions for the Covington offense: Was the gym in question Results? Does Results have a cruisy locker room/sauna — was Joe looking for a third there? Why would Joe and Dyl exercise in different spots at the same time? Was Dyl a member of Results, and, if so, why was he exercising in his room? Was the gym in question the Crew Club, a bath house with plenty of available thirds and more, and not Results?

                And, why would you go to a gym to find your husband immediately after taking an early flight home from an intercontinental business trip? Unless there was trouble at home, the last thing that I would want to do would be to track down my husband on the elliptical machine.

  26. Susan
    07/16/2010 at 10:57 PM

    ..not just the Wones and her [Ms. Morgan’s] friends, etc. (above)

    And

    a lot of individuals associate with JP and DW would not likely associate with the cops…..

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