Just what happened to the BlackBerry belonging to Robert Wone, the attorney who was fatally stabbed in Aug. 2006? The mystery continues.
Defense lawyers for three men accused of crimes linked to the 2006 murder of Washington lawyer Wone are pressing federal prosecutors for everything they know about the missing BlackBerry, which was among the items D.C. police seized off a nightstand next to Wone’s body.
Last week, Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner told D.C. Superior Court Judge Frederick Weisberg that police turned over the BlackBerry to the Secret Service, which was going to copy the contents of the device—including unsent e-mails purportedly from Wone. Police reportedly asked for the return of the BlackBerry at the request of Wone’s widow, who wanted contact information from it. Kirschner said the Secret Service failed to “image” the BlackBerry before giving it back to police.
According to prosecutors, Wone’s widow returned the BlackBerry to her husband’s employer, Radio Free Asia, where Wone was general counsel. Kirschner said in court last week the government has been unsuccessful in tracking down the BlackBerry and has been unable to acquire the data from it.
But now it turns out that the Secret Service apparently never got the BlackBerry in the first place, according to a court filing this week by defense lawyers Bernard Grimm, David Schertler and Thomas Connolly. The BlackBerry's whereabouts remain unknown.
The lawyers say in a motion to compel, filed Wednesday, that they learned last week that the “Secret Service will maintain that they never received Mr. Wone’s BlackBerry to in fact image.” There was no immediate comment from the Secret Service or from D.C. police about the missing BlackBerry.
Grimm, Schertler and Connolly—who represent former Arent Fox partner Joseph Price, Dylan Ward and Victor Zaborsky, respectively—argue the BlackBerry and its contents are critical in establishing a precise timeline for the night of Aug. 2, 2006, when prosecutors say Wone was incapacitated, sexually assaulted and fatally stabbed. Price, Ward and Zaborsky are accused of evidence tampering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Each has pleaded not guilty.
Kirschner said in court papers last month that a detective recalls seeing two unsent e-mails on the BlackBerry—a note to Wone’s wife and a note to a friend about lunch plans. The last unsent e-mail was recorded at 11:07 p.m., 42 minutes before Zaborsky called 911, court records show. The defense lawyers want to know whether there are any additional e-mails—unsent or otherwise—after the 11:07 p.m. note.
“The government’s theory is that the defendants’ motive for engineering the crime scene is that one, two or all of them were somehow responsible or involved in the death of Robert Wone, and delayed calling 911 … in order to extend the available time to clean up the crime scene,” the defense lawyers write.
Narrowing the window in which the homicide and alleged cover-up happened undercuts the government’s theory, the defense lawyers say in court papers.
The next hearing in the case is set for May 22.