UPDATE (3 p.m.): Here's a copy of Schertler & Onorato's motion seeking pretrial release for Dylan Ward. Judge Weisberg reviewed the motion and granted it today.
Government prosecutors reportedly met with Arent Fox partner Joseph Price, Victor Zaborsky, and their lawyers to announce that Price and Zaborsky would be arrested on an obstruction charge if they did not cooperate with the government in the murder investigation of Robert Wone, according to defense counsel representing co-defendant Dylan Ward.
Ward’s lawyer, David Schertler of Schertler & Onorato, provided new details in court papers that reveal prosecution tactics designed to squeeze information from Price, Zaborsky, and Ward. Schertler, law firm partner Daniel Onorato, and Ward were in D.C. Superior Court court today for arraignment. Ward, 38, who was arrested in Miami last month and has been held in custody ever since, pleaded not guilty. Schertler, on the left below, and Onorato, are leaving Superior Court.
D.C. Superior Court Judge Frederick Weisberg questioned why government prosecutors did not allow Ward to surrender voluntarily in the same manner as co-defendants Price and Zaborsky. Price, Zaborsky, and Ward were all freed on the condition they submit to electronic monitoring, a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, and weekly drug-testing. Price and Zaborsky, who are domestic partners, pleaded not guilty last week.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner, who is prosecuting the case with AUSA Patrick Martin said today in court that the government was concerned Ward would try to flee had he been allowed to surrender on his own. Ward, Price, and Zaborsky “stonewalled” the investigation during the past two years with “misdirection” in an attempt to avoid prosecution, said Kirschner (on the left, below, with Martin). He did not offer details.
“The government was not at all confident … that we would ever see Mr. Ward again,” said Kirschner, chief of the homicide division. Ward was arrested in near Miami—at the home of Price and Zaborsky—and extradited to the District this week. Weisberg called Ward’s detention “excessive” but did not elaborate.
Schertler called Kirschner’s comments “conclusory and vague” and declared that Ward never had any intention to flee. Keeping Ward locked up in Florida was an “improper and obvious” attempt to pressure him to incriminate Price and Zaborsky, Schertler wrote in court papers. “We believe with equal vigor and equal conviction that these three men did nothing wrong,” Schertler said in court.
Schertler and Kirschner squared off in court today over the extent to which Ward has cooperated in the Wone investigation. Schertler noted that Ward, Price, and Zaborsky voluntarily gave hair, DNA, and fingerprint samples without a subpoena. The three men individually without counsel gave a statement to police the night of the homicide. Police made derogatory comments about the men based on their sexual orientation, Schertler said in court. But Kirschner said it is “folly” to suggest Ward has helped the prosecution.
D.C. police caused “hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage” to Price and Zaborsky’s Swann Street home, where Wone, a former Covington & Burling associate, was killed in August 2006, Schertler said in court papers. Ward was living with Zaborsky and Price at the time of the homicide, and Ward is expected to move in with Price and Zaborsky at an apartment in the 1600 block of 16th Street N.W. Kirschner did not object to the arrangement.
Ward is a 1992 graduate of Georgetown University and has a master’s in children literature from Simmons College in Boston. He is licensed to practice massage therapy in the District. Last year, Ward traveled to Thailand for six weeks to complete a Thai massage program, according to court records. Schertler said the government knew his client was out of the country. Price, Zaborsky, and Ward have surrendered their passports.
The grand jury investigation of the Wone murder continues and a superceding indictment for conspiracy is expected, Kirschner said today. When Weisberg asked him for details on the conspiracy charge, Kirschner said he could not talk about it. Lawyers for Price, Zaborsky, and Ward are expected to seek less-restrictive conditions of pre-trial release—arguing that the electronic monitoring and the curfew are onerous and unwarranted.