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Judge Lynn Leibovitz on Thursday tossed out charges of tampering with evidence against two of the three defendants on trial in connection to the 2006 murder of D.C. attorney Robert Wone. But the judge also ruled that “a reasonable juror” could find all three men guilty of conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

“I have considered all of the evidence that has been presented so far,” Judge Leibovitz said, adding that she had “grappled with [the prosecution and defense’s arguments] at some length.”

Defense attorneys had previously filed a motion asking the judge to acquit all three defendants, Joseph Price, Dylan Ward and Victor Zaborsky, citing a lack of evidence to rule out reasonable doubt. Leibovitz stated, however, that the government had met its burden to convince a reasonable juror of Price’s guilt on all three charges. She said “no reasonable juror,” though, could find Zaborsky and Ward guilty of evidence tampering.

Earlier this week, a witness testified that Price had told him that he had “pulled the knife out” of the victim.

The defendants have long maintained that an unknown intruder broke into their home at 1509 Swann Street NW and killed their friend, who was sleeping in their guestroom. Prosecutors have accused the trio of conspiring to clean up the crime scene and perhaps substitute a second knife for the actual murder weapon in an attempt to confuse investigators about the true circumstances of Wone’s death.

After the morning ruling, defendants Zaborsky and Ward headed into the hallway with one of their attorneys to discuss the recent developments, while Price remained in the courtroom. It’s the first time this reporter has seen the lovers separate at all during the proceedings.

The defense team prepared to call its first witness in the month-long trial this afternoon.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery