Federal prosecutors have said repeatedly that Robert Wone, former general counsel at Radio Free Asia, was tortured and sexually assaulted the night his body was found in August 2006 in the Northwest Washington home of an Arent Fox litigation partner. Wone was fatally stabbed.
But the defendants—Joseph Price, Victor Zaborsky and Dylan Ward—are charged with conspiracy, evidence tampering and obstruction of justice. No murder count. No sex crimes.
Lawyers for Price, Zaborsky and Ward filed court papers this week saying that the government attorneys should be forbidden to say anything about torture and sexual abuse. A motion to exclude uncharged criminal conduct was filed Nov. 2 in D.C. Superior Court.
The defense lawyers—including Thomas Connolly, Bernie Grimm and David Schertler—say the alleged uncharged criminal conduct is inadmissible. The lawyers have asked for a hearing on the motion. The government has not responded.
“Even viewing all the evidence in the light most favorable to the government, it is overwhelmingly clear that there is no credible evidence to support the claim that Mr. Wone was ever ‘incapacitated by being injected with some type of incapacitating or paralytic drug,’ ‘sexually assaulted,’ or ‘tortured,’” the defense lawyers said in court papers (.pdf). “Indeed, the government’s own evidence proves the exact opposite—none of these acts ever occurred.”
The defense lawyers say no paralytic drug has been found in Wone’s blood “despite repeated testing by government experts.” There are at least eight needle marks on Wone’s body, and prosecutors say there’s no evidence that Wone reacted in any way—for instance, he reportedly did not clutch his chest—as someone plunged a knife into him.
At a hearing in September in the case, Superior Court Judge Frederick Weisberg said he would be “most reluctant” to allow prosecutors to tell jurors about an injection unless the government comes up with more evidence to support the theory.
A status hearing in the case is set for Friday afternoon in front of Weisberg. Expect more discussion about discovery. Price, Zaborsky and Ward are scheduled to stand trial next May.