A Butcher, A Baker…

Defense Continues their Depos

Under the header of bringing you last week’s news today, it seems that DC EMT Jeff Baker, was deposed at the offices of Schertler & Onorato last Friday afternoon.

Baker, as readers may recall, was a key witness at the summer conspiracy and obstruction trial and he took the stand on several occasions. 

His testimony, recalling the night of Robert’s murder, and his arrival on the scene – the EMTs Baker and his partner Tracy Weaver) arriving before the MPD, provided moments of horror and occasional levity too.  He appeared mostly steady on the stand under what seemed at times rather hostile and rapid-fire cross.

A review of his time served in Judge Leibovitz’ courtroom and this depo subpoena follows.

It was Baker’s run reports that made up for some of the more hair-raising aspects of the original indictment and Baker was brought up there to recount the events of the evening and back up those first reactions.  Baker had an easy air about him on the stand, some self-depreacting jokes about his girth broke the tension on more than one occasion.  He was what one could be considered at headliner in the summer trial, taking the stand on Day 2’s afternoon session.  From his testimony, AUSA Glenn Kirschner’s direct:

EMT Jeff Baker, first to arrive at 1509, took the stand. He relayed his 14 years of experience answering calls in DC, minor and traumatic. He’s seen several hundred violent crime scenes including many stabbings.  He described the typical atmosphere he sees as “chaotic.”  He arrived at 1509, saw Zaborsky on a phone at the stoop and proceeded upstairs with a Reeves stretcher. He says he saw the unresponsive Ward even before getting to the top of the stairs.  In the guestroom he observed Price sitting on the bed with his back to him, a leg tucked up underneath.

Baker volunteered, “…hair stood up on the back of my neck.”  A moment later, the entire defense table seemed to erupt with an objection, as if they’ve been waiting years for that moment.  Sustained.  Leibovitz cautioned Kirschner to better manage his witness and to stick to the observations, not feelings.  “I’ll strike the last sentence and instruct myself not to consider it,” she said.

Baker saw Price and “spotted him up,” short hand to determine if he was a threat or not. Asked if he saw any blood on Price’s hand, Baker replied “no.”  Moments later Baker attended to Robert.  The stab wounds were visible, but he didn’t see any blood on his chest, abdomen or anywhere in the room.  Robert’s vitals were flat, no signs of life. As an EMT he could not pronounce death, just presume it.  Robert appeared dead to Baker….  It was en route to GW that Baker noticed the striations on Robert’s abdomen.  “It looked like it was wiped down,” and that the imprint of a towel’s texture was visible. “It looked like a light film,”… moist with linear marks.

Baker’s cross and redirect occurred on Day 3.  Whether his civil case depo follows the same line of questioning we saw last summer will be revealed when Baker is back on the stand this fall.  When he was excused on Day 3, he exited the courtroom and quipped, “Tough crowd.”  We wonder what his reaction will be the next time around.

36 comments for “A Butcher, A Baker…

  1. Clio
    05/13/2011 at 12:48 PM

    The baker of the household could have been either Victor or Dyl, and Uncle Michael had served as a butcher in Maryland.

    How many times would an EMT’s hair stand on the back of his/her neck? Haven’t they seen everything before, especially in a big city such as DC? That must have been one eerie scene!

    • Clio
      05/15/2011 at 8:43 PM

      Who then was the candlestick maker? The house must have been wired for electric lights, since its launch in 1886. Yet, the lighting within and just outside 1509 Swann had to have been key for the “intruder” to leave without notice. And, if any evidence did leave Swann that night with an invited guest rather than with an “intruder,” it could not have gone very far due to time constraints and street lighting.

      • Bill Orange
        05/15/2011 at 10:39 PM

        “Who then was the candlestick maker?”

        Hot wax handler = Dylan

        • Clio
          05/16/2011 at 1:57 PM

          I had never thought of that possibility, Bill O, but Mr. Pring, of course, may be able to elucidate these various roles.

          Will the workplace photos of Joe and Dyl be made available to Covington staff in order for them to more fully understand the nuances and contexts of the world of 1509 Swann circa 2006?

          • Bill Orange
            05/16/2011 at 3:12 PM

            Lawyers? My non-lawyer guess would be that the photos are not only discoverable but are also admissible at trial. The plaintiffs are arguing that the defendants’ past history of violent sexual behavior is relevant to the death of Robert Wone. The defendants have affirmed this by invoking their fifth amendment rights on the matter. The plaintiffs now have a right (in fact, it’s probably more of a legal duty) to present additional supporting evidence to the court. The defense team has essentially dared them to do so by stating that adverse inferences to invoking the fifth amendment can ONLY be drawn if there is additional evidence available on the matter. Ergo, the plaintiffs should have access to the photos and should present them to the jury.

            • Clio
              05/17/2011 at 10:32 PM

              Let’s hope that your prediction about the photographs comes true, dear. A jury will be most intrigued by their “tainted love.”

              Indeed, those darling pixs would be essential additions to any scholarly monograph published in the twenty-second century about the case; only then will permissions, brown paper covers, and copyrights not be necessary, I am afraid.

  2. AnnaZed
    05/13/2011 at 4:44 PM

    Wasn’t Baker the one who said that he would not turn his back on Price after sizing him up?

    • Bea
      05/13/2011 at 6:10 PM

      I think that’s right. This is a guy who has to trust his instincts, which means a lot.

      • Clio
        05/15/2011 at 8:29 PM

        Well, why would a man be afraid of another man wearing only briefs? Why did Diane (rather than Jeff or a male officer) have to tell Joe to put on some clothes? If police are arriving, wouldn’t one at least put on a pair of board shorts?

        • Rapt in MD
          05/16/2011 at 2:57 PM

          You would unless you wanted to parade your “no visible injury” body around to show that you had not been engaged in a struggle with someone. Oh -and if you fancied yourself quite the specimen.

          • Bill Orange
            05/16/2011 at 3:19 PM

            My guess is that–regardless of his innocence or guilt–he was just so focused on the task at hand that it never even occurred to him to put clothes on. But I think there’s a remote chance that one of the other two was injured in some way, and Joe was intentionally trying to divert attention to himself to cover this.

            • Clio
              05/17/2011 at 7:24 AM

              Perhaps. But why turn your back to the EMT — sitting on a bed with a leg turned up underneath? That’s a strange posture for a crisis situation. Was Joe feeling guilty over being such a bad host, or was he not feeling anything at all?

              And, to whom did Victor speak on the phone that evening? Why did the trouple wait until several hours later to inform Sarah?

  3. Bill Orange
    05/13/2011 at 9:46 PM

    I’m betting it was a tough depo. The defense is going to need to destroy this man on the stand, and thus far, it doesn’t look like they’ve got much to work with.

    • David
      05/16/2011 at 3:09 PM

      Bill O —

      I agree that it could have been a difficult depo, but, honestly, it couldn’t have been any worse than what he already went through on the stand at the criminal trial. And if the top flight talent of Connolly, Grimm, Schertler and Spagnoletti didn’t shred him to pieces, I doubt the civil folks will do further damage.


      • Bill Orange
        05/16/2011 at 3:16 PM

        Oh, I think the civil lawyers will be tougher. The fact that he was creeped out by the scene really didn’t make it into the trial, and that was the most damning thing he had to say. (The fact that Price wasn’t doing CPR is really secondary.) I think that the plaintiffs are going to be able to get this into the civil trial, which means the defense is going to have to work a lot harder on his creditability.

        • Clio
          05/17/2011 at 7:28 AM

          The striation marks also will be tough to refute or to explain: someone off the street killed and then cleaned Robert? How many random killers are that tidy?

  4. noaharc
    05/15/2011 at 2:52 PM

    well John Edwards is being brought back for DEPO since it is reported he plede the 5th on a lot of stuff–so the judge says he will sit in and rule on each question

    • Clio
      05/18/2011 at 10:39 PM

      John Edwards, Arnold S., Newt G., and Joseph Price all apparently cheated on their partners, but whose adultery was the most egregious?

      • susan
        05/19/2011 at 12:06 AM

        Wow. All are pretty bad, Clio. John and Newt both cheated on seriously ill spouses. Creepy Ahnold and Price both had their extramarital affairs mixed in with their domestic lives. A’s lovah was a domestic. Price’s was domestic or dominatrix. I’d pair them all off that way. In Price’s case, though, apparently the spouse consented to and was aware of the affair. Sad situations, all.

        • Bill Orange
          05/19/2011 at 8:16 AM

          Again, I feel the need to stress that Joe Price’s sex life isn’t the big issue here. The big issue is that someone was stabbed to death in his guest bedroom.

          • susan
            05/19/2011 at 8:52 PM

            Actually, it may be an issue and related to the crime. Or not. That hasn’t been determined yet.

          • Clio
            05/19/2011 at 9:36 PM

            Right answer, Bill O! As monstrous as John E., Newt G., and Arnold S. are, their adultery never was connected (yet) to murder. Accordingly, because the adultery may have been a contributing factor to a death, guess whose misconduct was then the most egregious!

  5. 05/17/2011 at 7:26 AM

    Bill O: You say
    “[jp] was just so focused on the task at hand that it
    never even occurred to him to put clothes on. But I think
    there’s a remote chance that one of the other two was injured
    in some way, and Joe was intentionally trying to divert
    attention to himself to cover this.”
    Huh? This is a really interesting observation; what is your factual basis for this? Was there testimony concerning this in the criminal trial?
    I rather thought Rapt had the answer for jp’s exposition: “and if you fancied yourself quite the specimen.” Less altruistic than the motive you ascribe, I’d say.

    • Bill Orange
      05/17/2011 at 9:34 AM


      I’m just throwing it out as a possibility. I have a vague recollection of someone at some point saying that Victor had some sort of injury to his hand, but this didn’t really come up at trial, so either I’m misremembering, or the prosecution didn’t think it was important. Still, I think it was pretty clear from the police at the scene that Joe was the one doing all of the talking. The underwear bit may–and I repeat, I think it’s more likely that he just wasn’t thinking about getting dressed–have been calculated to keep the attention focused on himself and not on Dylan or Victor.

      • Craig
        05/17/2011 at 10:33 AM

        Bill O: I also recall a question being lobbed about an injury to one of the defendants. Maybe it came up in one of the Anacostia interviews? Posed to Zaborsky? Or maybe it surfaced in MPD testimony on direct or cross last summer.

        • Bea
          05/17/2011 at 6:22 PM

          I don’t recall any of the defendants having any injuries but if someone else does, it would be good to track this down.

          • Cara
            05/18/2011 at 11:04 AM

            Was it Price who had blood on his finger and managed to wash it off during the Anacostia sessions?

            • TT
              05/18/2011 at 11:46 AM

              Yes and if I remember correctly, Price said the blood came from helping Robert after he found him.

              • Craig
                05/18/2011 at 2:14 PM

                Price’s middle finger, to be precise.

                A small Plaintiff doc with a big name just hit the clerk’s office and we’ll get it up in the morning, along with some key dates on the summer calendar. Thanks again to all for helping sustain this effort during the lean months. I’m wondering if we start to see an uptick in filings after the holiday weekend. Hmmmm…

                • Clio
                  05/18/2011 at 10:28 PM

                  Would more filings mean we’re more (or we’re less) closer to a settlement? Would more filings mean that Spag’s really “worried” about the upcoming murder trial, even though it may mean more billable hours for the former AG? One does wonder!

      • AnnaZed
        05/17/2011 at 10:46 AM

        I think that the reason that Joe was in his skivvies is that he had just stepped out of the shower.

  6. Bill 2
    05/17/2011 at 7:48 PM

    EMT Baker said he arrived at 1509 and saw Zaborsky on a phone at the stoop. Was Zaborsky standing out there freshly showered in his white Calvins and a white bathrobe talking on one or two phones? Was he still talking to 911 or had he moved on from that? Could he have been out there seeing to the removal and stowage of play mats and camera equipment at a nearby location? Perhaps he was telling someone not to return to the house because the EMTs had arrived.

    I would imagine the emergency vehicle arrived with lights flashing and siren blaring. Isn’t it strange that someone living directly across the street who had intimate relations with two members of the 1509 household didn’t at least open the door or window to ask what’s going on? Or did he already know what was going on?

    • AnnaZed
      05/17/2011 at 10:18 PM

      On the playback of the 911 call Victor can heard on the stoop talking to the EMTs. He doesn’t say much and he is flumoxed and crying, but you can hear them.

    • Clio
      05/17/2011 at 10:41 PM

      Yes, Bill 2, one can see Victor possibly talking with Scott, not knowing about Scott’s relations with his/her husband or his/her rival — does the betrayal get any worse than this! In that scenario, Milk Toast was helping his husband and his husband’s mistress by possibly enlisting yet another of hubby’s semi-secret playmates in this damage control operation. Awful!

  7. 05/18/2011 at 7:10 AM

    BillO/Craig: I trust you’re recalling a reference to an “injury” said to be unrelated to the murder. If it could have been caused by one of the defendants’ activities that evening, might it be relevant? Everything that night at 1509 was interrelated.

    • Clio
      05/18/2011 at 10:33 PM

      Did Victor break a nail while dialing 911? Did Dyl stub his big toe while trying to get to the safety of the couch? Did Joe get any rug burns from earlier in the evening at the “gym?” Injury to reputation, though, may not count.

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