After a week's break, prosecutors in the Robert Wone trial called a new witness who, they said, would paint a better picture of what happened the night of Wone's murder in August 2006.
In D.C. Superior Court this morning, Assistant U.S. Attorney T. Patrick Martin, the co-lead prosecutor, called Scott Hixon, a onetime neighbor and self-described close friend of the defendants, to the stand.
An immediate issue was the precise nature of Hixon’s relationship with the defendants. Hixon testified that he had a few sexual encounters with two of the three men, Joseph Price and Dylan Ward.
The defense argued that details of Hixon’s alleged sexual encounters are irrelevant to the case, calling the information “inflammatory” and saying it could cause prejudice to their clients.
However, Judge Lynn Leibovitz overruled their objections. “Since there’s no jury, then I don’t see the problem,” Leibovitz said.
Hixon testified that he had a close friendship with the defendants, which continued after Wone’s death. He said his last contact with the men was in the fall of 2008.
Hixon said that, on the night of Wone’s death, Price asked him to pick up the three men at the police station. During the ride home, Hixon said, Price recounted the events of the night- how they heard a noise, how they discovered Wone’s body, and how they called the police. The third defendant, Victor Zaborsky, chimed in to add that he might have left the back door open after grilling in the backyard earlier that evening.
In response to Martin’s questions, Hixon said that Price did most of the talking.
Hixon also testified that, some months later after the defendants had moved out of the house where Wone died, Ward asked Hixon to go back into the house with him. Ward allegedly said he was worried Price’s brother Michael might have entered the house. After seeing that certain items were missing from the house, Hixon testified, Ward told Hixon that he suspected Michael Price had robbed the house.
During cross-examination, defense attorney David Schertler of Schertler & Onorato asked Hixon what he thought of the close relationship among the three defendants. Hixon said he found it to be “progressive” and “loving,” and that the defendants were “equals” in the relationship. Hixon also said he did not think one defendant was “subservient” to the other.
Defense attorney Bernard Grimm of Cozen O’Connor asked Hixon if the defendants had ever tried to coerce his testimony, to which he replied no. Hixon also said that the defendants did not tell him to remain quiet about the robbery.
Martin told the judge that he expects the prosecution to rest its case on Wednesday. The judge said the prosecution should then be prepared in case the defense moves for an acquittal on all charges.