By Jeff Jeffrey and Mike Scarcella
Updated 12:50 p.m.
In the Robert Wone conspiracy trial, it's a clean sweep for the defense. Judge Lynn Leibovitz of D.C. Superior Court has found defendants Joseph Price, Victor Zaborsky and Dylan Ward not guilty on all counts.
Specifically, all three have been found not guilty of obstruction of justice and conspiracy. Price has also been found not guilty of tampering with evidence. Leibovitz earlier dismissed the tampering charges against Zaborsky and Ward.
Capping a five-week trial that explored Wone's unsolved murder, Leibovitz, who presided over a bench trial, pronounced judgment before a packed courtroom.
Housemates Price, Zaborsky and Ward had claimed an intruder killed Wone in August 2006. Leibovitz dismissed the intruder theory as implausible. But she said that if any one of the defendants believed it, then his statement to police was not knowingly false and not intended to deceive. Any one of the defendants, the judge said, could have been the "odd man out" in the alleged conspiracy.
The widow, Kathy Wone, broke down at the reading of the verdict. The three defendants, who each faced more than 30 years in prison if found guilty, showed no reaction.
Defense attorney Bernard Grimm gave a brief statement outside the courtroom: “The standard is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. ... The court started its statement with that standard. And that’s the system of justice we live in. Other countries would die for that system.”
At trial, the prosecution, led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner, had alleged Price, Zaborsky and Ward know more about the stabbing than they told detectives in hours of questioning after the murder. Wone, stabbed three times in the chest, was found on a bed in the Northwest Washington home of Price and Zaborsky.
Kirschner relied heavily on the statements the three men made to the police in an attempt to show inconsistent stories and, in Price's case, an allegedly suspicious lack of emotion. Kirschner argued Price was more concerned about how the night was the worst in his life than the murder of a longtime friend. Price and Wone were college friends.