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Prosecutors on Monday showed video footage of detectives interviewing Joe Price, one of three suspects charged with conspiracy, obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence in connection to the 2006 murder of D.C. attorney Robert Wone.
As the DVD started, the two others in the courtroom accused of deceiving authorities investigating Wone’s killing, Victor Zaborsky and Dylan Ward angled themselves so that they could see the screen, while Price looked in the exact opposite direction, avoiding the images.
In the video, Price, wearing an un-tucked blue shirt, a pair of black pants and dress shoes, is sitting in the corner of an interrogation room. Next to him is a half-imbibed soda. Price tells detectives Daniel Wagner and Milton Norris how he thinks someone jumped the fence and entered his house, at which point the the trespasser killed his friend Wone with a knife. Describing the moments before the killing, Price mentions that, after hanging out with Wone, his house guest for the evening, he went upstairs, watched the tube, including a little Spike TV, he recounts, and went to bed. “Next thing I know I heard two chimes,” he says. (Price explains many times that the chimes, which happen each time one of the entrance doors of the house is opened, are a feature of an alarm system.)
Price then explains to the pair of detectives that, a while later, he heard something disturbing. “It was like yelling but it wasn’t like…it was grunts or something.” Hearing the grunts, he explains, both he and Zaborsky, who was sleeping next to him, ran downstairs. When they entered the guest room in which Wone was staying they saw that he was wounded. “There was Robert, lying on the bed, the cover pulled back.”
Peppering him with questions, the detectives seemed suspicious of his version of events. “I know you guys have to figure everything out,” offers Price at one point.
For detectives, part of figuring things out seems to be finding out if Wone’s murder had something to do with sex. One of the many questions cops throw at Price is whether Wone was gay. Cops found various and elaborate sex toys at the Swann Street house. Price answers no. Wone wasn’t gay, or even into “booze” or “drugs,” he volunteers. “Robert was absolutely the best absolutely straight-A guy I’ve ever met.”
Though detectives let the subject go momentarily, Wone’s sexuality comes up again later. “Maybe he was thinking about doing a little bit of experimenting?” asks Wagner. Price again denies Wone was anything but heterosexual.
Detectives ask Price to repeat his story many times over. Price sticks with the intruder story, claiming neither Ward, Zaborsky, or himself, could have done it. Price tries to convince detectives that they’ll find the intruders fingerprints on the back door if they look. “You guys are focusing on us,” Price complains.
Throughout the interview, Price, who seems to be going a little hoarse, gestures with his hands while talking. Wagner leans back in a chair with an incredulous look on his face, Norris sits in another chair, slightly off camera, though the back of his shaved head is clearly visible and gives the impression that he’s facing and observing Price.