The Decemberists

January Hymn:  The Status Hearing Transcript 

The final exhibit attached to the Plaintiff Motion to Compel is the transcript from the December 8 status hearing, the last that Judge Brook Hedge was to preside over before she turned the reins and gavel over to her colleague Michael Rankin.

Those attending the proceding will remember the day, unseasonably cold weather and long, long lines to get into the Moultrie Courthouse.  The near hour-long wait delayed the start of the hearing because counsel themselves were on line waiting to get through the security checkpoints and mags.

The hearing itself lasted exacly one hour, but the agenda was packed and the arguments heated.  Debated were the gag order, defense motions to dismiss counts of the complaint, and finally, the Plaintiff Motion to Compel deposition testimony. 

We left Moultrie thinking that all those issues were squared away.  Only this week did we learn that there has been more defendant depo hanky-panky, according to Team Covington.

The transcript that follows is a good read and showcases the talents and strengths of the many attorneys on the case: Covington’s Razi, familiar face Robert Spagnoletti, the new guy on the Ward team, Ralph Spooner, and the trio of Bret Buckwalter, Frank Daly and Sean Edwards for defendants Victor Zaborsky and Joe Price.   Also on hand that day was Chip English who argued on behalf of the Media Intervenors, of which we were a party to – or more accurately, the instigator.

The sixty-page read also gives readers the chance to see just how good (or bad) we are taking notes and getting quotes at these hearings.  Readers will also note far more misspellings and typos in the official transcript than seen here on any given day:  Mr. Ravi [sic] and Fred [sic] Daily [sic], just to name a couple. 

And there are no electronic records of DC Court proceedings why exactly?  Oh yeah, the official reporters (a DC Courts sanctioned, for-profit monopoly) has it covered. 

24 comments for “The Decemberists

  1. Clio
    02/05/2011 at 9:23 AM

    I love the title to this post: references to Russian history are always welcome. The Decembrists wanted to reform the System prematurely, as I recall, but they were brutally crushed. Let’s hope that the Editors’ spotlight on the foibles of the DC courts and criminal justice system leads to overdue changes without a defensive backlash.

    I am afraid that handwriting, spelling, and grammar are lost arts in our digital age; the end of the literate world must be near!

  2. christy love
    02/05/2011 at 9:46 AM

    Off Hand….Is there a post where you guys in the comments are talking about what you think happened to Robert that night? What should I search under? I have my theories about what happened, but I want to read what Bea, Hoya Loya, AnnaZed etc… think happened.

    Thanks.

    • christy love
      02/05/2011 at 10:18 AM

      Nevermind, I searched for motive and autopsy and found some good things.

    • Hoya Loya
      02/05/2011 at 10:29 AM

      Christy:

      Thanks for your interest. Quick answer: I really don’t know and that is part of my fascination with the case. In my first post on this blog, I noted that there was a solid circumstantial case against at least one of the three — but that does not mean I think that person actually did it, just that the case could be made.

      I try to look at the known facts and the subsequent behavior of those involved and try to square the two — not easy!

      But there is a big part of me that cannot accept Joe killing his friend or that Victor would cover for Dylan or vice-versa. There is no convincing evidence of an unknown intruder but potential for a known intruder.

      It’s possible the guys came upon the scene as they said and really have no idea what happened. It is more probable, it seems to me, that one or two or maybe all don’t know for sure but suspected from the get-go that it was one or two of the others or an intruder known to them or someone else with access to the house and that the immediate instinct was to cover for that person to prevent being implicated themselves, which they probably now regret. But those who don’t know for sure can’t say for sure what happened and are also now boxed in by their initial actions and statements.

      A little vague, but that’s where I am at the moment.

      Check posts from mid-to-late 2009 to earlu 2010 for lots more theorizing from the “regulars.”

      • christy love
        02/06/2011 at 7:05 AM

        Thank you.

  3. Cat in Cleveland
    02/05/2011 at 5:46 PM

    You stated my position very well, Hoya Loya!

  4. Bea
    02/06/2011 at 3:23 PM

    My personal speculation is a bit more damning of the defendants than Hoya’s, though I am on board with that being a clear possibility. That’s the only possibility I see in which none of the three were directly involved in Robert’s murder, namely that each THOUGHT perhaps one of the others was involved but genuinely a 3rd party did it, one known to the defendants. Michael or a trick come to mind. But I don’t think Dylan would have covered for Michael or a trick this long – he didn’t have much to lose in turning prosecution witness if he just lied to cops in that immunity would have been given to finger the killer. With that in mind, I do think one of the three, at a minimum, was directly involved with the murder – if not the knife-wielder then present for and involved with the idea of “finishing him off.”

    I don’t see a sober Joe murdering his friend UNLESS Dylan (possibly Michael) had done something heinous and Joe’s loyalties then went against Robert. Or he wasn’t sober (drugs, not alcohol).

    I am not of the opinion that it was planned that Robert would be murdered. It’s possible to me, however, that it was planned that someone would “come on to” Robert and that his refusal began a sequence of events that ended in his murder.

    I’ve long been known on this board as a Victor apologist. I don’t think he had anything to do with the murder but he signed on to the cover-up and has not wavered. From virtually all accounts, Victor was a stand-up guy and a kind human being – I will never understand how he has given up his humanity in not telling the truth about Robert’s murder. Since Joe cheated and lied to him before and after, it’s difficult to understand how he’s put up with such abuse and maintained his silence. I suspect he’s a hollowed shell of his former self these days.

    I wish I could come up with some possibility that each of these men is innocent of the murder, conspiracy and cover up in a logical (not legal) sense. Judge Leibo took the technical route of saying each of the three could have been innocent and allowed the ruse of that merry-go-round to render a not-guilty verdict while pontificating on how it’s unlikely that they’re truly innocent. Personally I think she failed in finding Joe guilty of tampering, at a minimum. I think in retrospect that that would have opened up Plan B for the boys to tell more – unless Joe was indeed guilty of more than tampering.

    • christy love
      02/06/2011 at 3:54 PM

      What if joe, michael & dylan had slipped robert some special k, had taken him upstairs and were having their way with him and Victor came into the room acting like he wanted to join them, pissed off as heck, had the knife and in anger stabbed Robert once, someone screamed, he left the knife in Robert and went back upstairs upset. All hell broke loose. They made the other stabs, while cleaning everything up, made victor abreast of the story. Micheal who was there took the knife and towels and left.

      • Hoya Loya
        02/06/2011 at 6:08 PM

        Christy:

        K would explain a lot, but remember, there is no evidence of k or other date rape drugs in Roberts system. This could be partly because the wrong tests were conducted and partly because the tests that were conducted were done long after those drugs would have dissipated. So in theory it can’t be ruled out, but there is no evidence so far, other than Robert’s failure to react (no defensive wounds) and unexplained needle marks (which the defense will likely, once again, try to blame on poorly documented resuscitation efforts).

        We therefore would need at least either an eyewitness or a witness to k use by one or more of the defendants on other occasions before we can make that jump.

    • susan
      02/06/2011 at 3:59 PM

      Bea,

      I won’t go on about my thoughts re the case, etc., but I deduce the same re VZ. He seems the most innocent of the the three. That said, part of me wonders if he isn’t a bit of a fool who is often duped by JP and Ward (who he called “the sweetest, nicest…”) and yet we know that LD had intended at one time to become JP’s #1, and who we know can be “scary” and is into torture.

      I also think that concurrent with his possibly being a bit of a fool, he chose for however may years he was with JP up to that point and through now, to accept a lifestyle that included the live in lover in D. Ward, the local family in M. Price and the crime and drama that came with his close/dysfunctional relationship with JP, etc., etc. Who a person associates with–and in this case–commits to/”marry” says something about that person. However hapless VZ may be, he chose to become part of that environment/those values or lack thereof, etc.

      I also think that since they share fatherhood with two related boys there is a power behind that bond, and possibly JP and/or others have emphasized that of late, if JP or others are involved. I’d think that would mean something to VZ since he’s all about “bonds” in one way, and JP and LD–in another.

      • susan
        02/06/2011 at 4:07 PM

        Just want to add that in the Anacostia interviews, VZ comes across to me as the most shaken. That said, it seems odd that they all stressed how R. Wone was just a “casual” friend and more JP’s friend, yet VZ and possibly one of the others emphasized how they visited R. Wone’s wife Kathy in the hospital–after hip replacement?–and LD baked something for her, and they brought a basketful of gifts. How many people make hospital visits to the wives of “casual” friends who have hip replacement surgery?

        Seems contradictory.

        • Bea
          02/06/2011 at 7:04 PM

          Susan, I agree that Victor seems the most shaken at Anacostia. Frankly, I think that may have been because he wasn’t high and as able to mask emotion. Or maybe he has a soul and the other two don’t. Neither Dylan nor Joe come across (to me) as being at all troubled that their friend (even casual friend) was just stabbed to death in their home.

          Victor likely has a plethora of “reasons” why he’s stuck by Joe, fatherhood included. I think he did somersaults to convince himself that Joe was as “married” to him as he was to Joe. Sadly, he may have seen this as an opportunity to lock Joe in forever, only to find out that Joe will continue to play and humiliate Victor, and for whatever reason Victor just takes it and takes it.

          And to Christy Love, we’ve talked about the possibility of Victor being the murderer but most of us have dismissed it, partly because the story rang true that he was upstairs pouting, because he was the one least likely to do drugs, because he seemed to be the “parent” of the bad boy duo and wasn’t present for their shenanigans. Joe and Dylan planned those shenanigans when Victor was out of town – that we know. Did Victor snap and kill Robert?

          My opinion is that if he had, he may well have (eventually) come clean in the sense of taking a lesser charge. I don’t think he sleeps well knowing what he covered up, let alone being able to go about his business having murder on his conscience. And speaking of conscience, I don’t know that conscience bothers Joe, perhaps because he doesn’t have much of one. Others have posited that he’s at minimum a narcissist and possibly as sociopath who really is incapable of having emotion. For a guy (who was the closest to Robert) just experiencing having “found” a murdered friend, pulled the knife from his chest, and called his friend’s wife to tell her her husband was stabbed, he sure seems unaffected during the interviews.

          His ability to rouse some bad analogies about finding Robert dead was like finding a hippopotamus in the room certainly seemed strange to me, as though he could disassociate from the death. He cleaned up Robert’s blood, pulled the knife from his chest, stayed next to the dead body while waiting for the ambulance (allegedly trying to stanch bleeding) yet fails to tell Victor to tell 911 that he’s not breathing. I know firsthand about operating on autopilot to get through a crisis (since the trial I’ve found a friend who’d killed himself and had to go through many difficult things like informing his parents and girlfriend).

          I did talk to the police before and after the body was discovered (I waited in the hallway as they went into the apartment) – first I had to convince them WHY I thought the intervention was necessary. I stumbled through answering questions, had to inform our office about his passing. The day is a blur although I can describe the morgue and the suicide note, the sound of his father’s voice, his girlfriend’s voice. I can hear myself talking. Can I see myself behave like Dylan or Joe or even Victor in that room, all defensive and emotionless? No. But the interviews make it seem to me more that Victor was the lesser involved – and I think that’s why he was told to call 911.

          He knew that either Joe or Dylan had been party to the murder (if only as witness) and he was in protect-my-loved-one mode, but he felt SOMETHING for Robert. There are so many questions the cops DIDN’T ask, but if I had ONE back, I’d follow up on Victor’s comment that “my life will never be the same.” How so, Victor? He’d have bumbled through how seeing a dead man affected him or something (had already said he wasn’t a real friend only an acquaintance) but perhaps he’d have set things in motion with an honest or nearly honest response.

          • susan
            02/06/2011 at 9:32 PM

            Bea,

            Sorry to hear about your friend. How awful for you to have been in that position and how sad for your friend, his family, his girlfriend and others who have been affected.

            Re the Anacostia MPD, they really did screw up. The nation’s capital deserves more competent homicide detectives, etc. Maybe C. Lanier has done an okay job. She and her staff can do better. On the other hand, I’m sure some parties to this case would like to thank her staff for their bungling of the interviews and handling of the crime scene. Let’s hope the day comes when they get their due.

          • Clio
            02/06/2011 at 9:56 PM

            “My life will never be the same.” How so, indeed? No more invites to VIP dinners? No new Mercedes? No more el-cheapo Callas posters? No more Sparkly Cat underfoot? No more wire hangers?

            I wonder if they’re still hosting Sunday brunches somewhere in the District: who would go?

            • Bill 2
              02/07/2011 at 9:07 AM

              If they are still hosting Sunday brunches, Scott Hixson probably would accept an invitation as well as the guy who shared some tender moments with Joe Price in Union Station last year. (My favorite place for Sunday brunch in DC is the Hawk ‘n’ Dove on Penn Ave.)

              Following the revelations at the trial last year, you have to wonder if old acquaintances dropped them. At the same time, do they bring DC newbies into a circle of people who don’t know their involvement in a murder case?

              • Bea
                02/07/2011 at 2:19 PM

                I’d like to know the percentage of friends who’ve dumped the duo/trio. I know that there are dyed-in-the-wool supporters, none of whom I can truly understand. Because they are otherwise intelligent people, my guess is that they haven’t read much and focus solely on what Joe tells them. Sadly, they don’t want to know. Cues line: YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!

                • CDinDC
                  02/07/2011 at 4:16 PM

                  I’d be willing to bet that many of the rabid supporters have been intimate with one or more of the trouple.

                  • Bill 2
                    02/07/2011 at 8:06 PM

                    You may be right. Perhaps some of them will end up involved in testimony regarding violent sexual practices. That prospect could erode some support.

                    • susan
                      02/07/2011 at 8:37 PM

                      Full comment below to avoid this thin thread.

          • 02/08/2011 at 4:59 PM

            great analysis on how fate had everyone’s path cross in that one horrible night. In the cable crime show wicked attraction it deals with how people in dysfunctional relationships get entangled in muderous events. Imho–it always sounded like the Canadian ken and Barbi case were people think they have a plan to carry out an act but it is their own myopic -plan.. Victor came home. Dysfunctional to have your partner have another sexual partner living under the same roof imho. will Robert’s wife get justice/answers–let’s hope one still has a soul and breaks

  5. susan
    02/07/2011 at 8:47 PM

    Today on the Diane Rehm show/NPR the guest was this Iranian/American who came across a wedding photo of her mother at around 13 years of age standing next to a man who was not her father. At first her mother wouldn’t speak about it but ended up sharing with her daughter how she was committed into an arranged marriage, abused, had a child, got a special divorce, was sent out of the country, etc., etc.

    A while ago I caught the end of an Oprah show late at night. The guests were the sister of serial killer J. Wayne Gacy and the adopted son of cult leader/murderer J. Jones–Jim Jones, Jr. Both the sister and the son of the killers seemed to compartmentalize their loved ones. How lovely they were, you know–aside from all the killing or in J. Wayne Gacy’s case, the torture, rape and killing. It was kind of eerie.

    I mention these true life stories to illustrate that sometimes close family members don’t always really, really know their brother, father, mother, etc. These aren’t the only stories out there. And sometimes, they know, but they turn a kind of blind eye to knowing or just tune out.

    That night at 1509 Swann, that night in general, from the very plan of Robert Wone staying overnight, etc., is filled with oddities and irregularities. I would think the residents of that home remembered more about that night than they were asked or that they shared. If any and/or all are innocent of the crime, they should share whatever they know about that night. Of course, it is five years later and they seem to be taking back what they might have shared to begin with by pleading the 5th.

    • 02/08/2011 at 5:04 PM

      Yes, the one night that Robert is there, someone breaks in and murders a nonresident. Victor came home early. I’m sure the DC police was speaking to attorney Price and not quite able to say WTF.

  6. Clio
    02/08/2011 at 10:24 PM

    How has the ongoing scandal affected Ma’am’s standing with the world of milk? She’s certainly no longer the enfant terrible of A-list advertising, perhaps, but can she still work on international projects where knowledge of Spanish and/or Chinese could come in handy? Perhaps, here Dyl could assist his old rival for Joe’s affections by helping to translate. In that case, mother’s milk, to the part-time masseur, probably never tasted so good!

  7. boofoc
    02/09/2011 at 7:20 AM

    Wondering about how Vz’s life is not “the same”; wondering whether Sunday brunches are still (again) a part of the trouple’s lifestyle; more basically, wondering whether they are having to suffer through the unbearable weather (I’m told) recently experienced in the DC/MD/VA area because their presence needs to suit the demands of pretrial. With splendid digs awaiting just out of reach in sunny South Florida where the weather has been contrarily summer-like: another pesky inconvenience of being accused of murder. Where are they hiding out lately, by the way, between depos, attorney conferences, etc.? No sightings around town?

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