City Paper is not for tourists
Today could very well be the end of the Robert Wone conspiracy trial.
The defense team for suspects Joseph Price, Victor Zaborsky and Dylan Ward have filed a motion to acquit the three lovers and housemates of charges connected to the August 2, 2006 slaying of the 32-year-old attorney Wone. Judge Lynn Leibovitz will likely rule on that motion this afternoon. This sets up the possibility that Price, Zaborsky and Ward will later walk out of D.C.’s Moultrie Courthouse completely free men.
In the motion, the defense contends that government prosecutors haven’t presented enough evidence that the defendants covered-up Wone’s murder the night he was stabbed to death in their guestroom. “The evidence before the Court, even viewed in the light most favorable to the government, would not permit any reasonable finder of fact to conclude that each element of the offenses with which they have been charged has been established beyond a reasonable doubt,” the motion states. “To convict the Defendants on this record, a fact finder would have to ‘cross the bounds of permissible inference and enter the forbidden territory of conjecture and speculation.’ This a fact finder may not do. The Court should enter a judgment of acquittal.”
In an opposing pleading, prosecutors point out why the trial should continue, citing an abundance of circumstantial evidence. Like the fact that Price, while Zaborsky was on the phone with 911 operator summoning help the evening Wone was stabbed, wasn’t heard in the background pulling for his friend. Instead, a recording of the 911 call seems to reveal he was bone-chillingly quiet. That’s something the prosecution says is “inconsistent with how a reasonable person would respond to such an event.”
“He is not heard in the background of the 911 call shouting to Robert Wone to “hang in there, Robert, the ambulance is coming” or in any other way trying to stabilize Robert Wone. Similarly, and contrary to his claims in the Violent Crimes branch interviews, Price is not shouting for an ambulance or raising his voice in any way, as would be expected if his friend were still alive, fighting for his life.”
Arguing in support of the prosecution’s pleading yesterday, attorney Rachel Lieber pointed out another bit of evidence: a very long 17 minutes. Lieber reminded the judge that Swann Street NW neighbor William Thomas testified to hearing a scream sometime between 11 and 11:30 p.m. the evening Wone was murdered, Thomas claimed he was able to identify that time span because he could hear his wife watching WJLA-TV newscaster Maureen Bunyan in the background. ” Lieber offered that Zaborsky made his 911 call at 11:49. “It’s a glaring discrepancy in time,” Lieber said. The prosecution believes the defendants used the missing minutes to do things like tamper with evidence.
“That is a long 17 minutes for them to get together…” Lieber said.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery