D.C. Superior Court Judge Frederick Weisberg didn’t have promising words today for the three men charged in the Robert Wone case.
None of the men—Joseph Price, Victor Zaborsky, and Dylan Ward—are likely to ever be told with any specificity from the government exactly what each person did to contribute to the conspiracy to obstruct justice after the stabbing death of Wone.
Defense lawyers Thomas Connolly, Bernie Grimm, and David Schertler, say the government has failed to provide specific overt acts to substantiate the conspiracy, obstruction, and evidence tampering charges against the men. The lead prosecutor, Glenn Kirschner, says the defendants are in a position to tell the government more about what went down the night of Aug. 2, 2006.
Price, a former Arent Fox litigation partner who was fired in January, Zaborsky, and Ward have maintained since the murder—and since then—that they’ve provided to the government all that they know about the circumstances of Wone’s death. Prosecutors say Wone was restrained, incapacitated, sexually assaulted, and stabbed in the Swann Street home of Price and Zaborsky on Aug. 2, 2006.
Weisberg, addressing the defendants and their lawyers at an hourlong status conference today, said the fairness of the government’s case will be litigated in the coming months. Weisberg today did not set a trial date. A motions hearing is scheduled for May 22 at 2 p.m.
Kirschner said today in court that the government continues to “aggressively” investigate the Wone murder. But he did not elaborate. Kirschner said earlier this year that a homicide charge against Price, Zaborsky, and Ward is unlikely.
Weisberg sought from Kirschner an elaboration on what acts have been done in the months after the murder—up until January 2009—to further the conspiracy to obstruct justice. Kirschner said the conspiracy does not end until there is, among other things, a confession.
Are the lawyers representing the three men charged in the Robert Wone case part of the conspiracy to conceal the circumstances surrounding the unsolved murder of Wone? Kirschner said the government has no intention to allege such. Weisberg called the Wone case “peculiar” because the government seems to accuse the defendants under the theory “you did it and you won’t tell us you did it.”
Weisberg said he recognizes the significance of a missing piece of government evidence—Wone’s BlackBerry. Prosecutors revealed to the defense last week that the government had not copied the contents of the BlackBerry before giving it back to Wone’s widow.
A detective recalled seeing two e-mails—Kirschner said today that the e-mails had not been sent—purportedly written by Wone to his wife and to an associate. The time on the unsent e-mails narrows the window in which the alleged torture of Wone occurred.
Kirschner said there is no certainty that Wone typed the unsent notes. The premature release of the BlackBerry, the prosecutor said, was based on a misunderstanding. He called the loss of the evidence unfortunate.
Schertler used stronger language, saying the missing evidence stems from negligence. He did not blame anyone in particular, however. Schertler said he was “shocked” to learn of the BlackBerry mishap more than two years after the murder. “You don’t get shocked, Mr. Schertler,” Weisberg said, drawing laughter from court observers.