Federal prosecutors in Washington are defending the indictment in the Robert Wone case, saying there is ample evidence to support criminal allegations against three men charged with crimes stemming from Wone's stabbing death in August 2006.
Joseph Price, Victor Zaborsky and Dylan Ward are charged in D.C. Superior Court with obstruction of justice, conspiracy and evidence tampering for their alleged roles in cleaning up the crime scene and hindering the police investigation of Wone’s murder. Police have not charged anyone with murder.
Defense lawyers for Price, Zaborsky and Ward are attacking the indictment, calling it vague and conclusory. The lawyers say, among other things, that there cannot be a conspiracy charge without underlying overt acts of obstruction.
None of the defendants can be charged with obstruction, the defense lawyers said in recently filed court papers, because there was no ongoing “official proceeding”—the language used in the statute—at the time the men allegedly altered the crime scene. The police only got involved after Zaborsky called 911 for an ambulance. D.C.’s obstruction law does not criminalize false statements to the police, the defense lawyers say.
Prosecutors said in court papers this month, in response to a motion to dismiss, that the phone call to 911 the night of the murder was an act of obstruction itself. Assistant U.S. attorneys Glenn Kirschner and T. Patrick Martin called the phone call “fabricated” and said it began the defendants’ “contrived ‘intruder’ story” that someone entered Price and Zaborsky’s home in Northwest Washington and killed Wone. Click here for the government's court filing.
The events that happened before the phone call to 911 support an obstruction charge, the prosecutors said in court papers. There is no temporal component on the status of “official proceeding,” the government lawyers said. The statute doesn’t say anything about a “pending” or “active” official proceeding.
“The alleged acts of obstruction … will establish that the defendants undertook elaborate efforts to stage the murder scene before even notifying the police,” the prosecutors said in court papers. Price, Zaborsky and Ward knew a police investigation was “inevitable and imminent,” the prosecutors said.
A status hearing in the case is scheduled for Jan. 15.