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The Sunday Funnies

May 2, 2010

The Revolving Door

Monday will find us one week out from the start of the trial. 

As we gear up and adjust our schedules to staff the expected month plus long proceedings, we’ve had to make some changes in the line up.  The planned gavel-to-gavel coverage dictates this.

At this Wednesday’s, May 5 evidentiary hearing, we’ll know if we have an intern.  Someone reached out to us last week and we think we have our candidate.  If we find that he’s able to tolerate us for more than an hour or so at this week’s hearing, he’s hired.

This possible new hire will come at the expense of another longtime staffer.  Sent packing this week was editorial cartoonist Thomas Nasty, another victim of newsroom budget cuts. 

It’s with mixed emotions that we let Thomas go, but that didn’t stop us from rifling his desk drawers for one last contribution.

-posted by Craig with apologies to Bob Weber, Jr.


The Sunday Not-So Funny

May 2, 2010

Funeral For A Friend

We’ve come to learn from the Harry Jaffe’s Washingtonian piece that in addition to the hundred and hundreds of mourners at Robert’s funeral service was at least one member of the DC MPD. 

The turnout and outpouring that day should have been evidence enough for the detective to fully understand the magnitude of the loss, and if he was listening closely to the eulogies at all, he would have truly appreciated the impact Robert had in his too-short life.

One friend from William and Mary who attended that day as well, reached out to us some time ago to share what seemed to be another dynamic at the service.  We print the email in its entirety:

I did know both Joe and Robert well from WM days. 

I was very good friend with Robert, but only passing acquaintances with Joe and hadn’t spoken to him in a number of years (other than at the funeral).

Honestly, at the funeral, Joe came across as being nearly as much a victim as Kathy was. 

How horrible it was to have one of your good friends murdered in your own home.  I recall Joe having almost a reception line of well wishers giving him hugs and comforting him at the funeral. 

I shook hands with Joe after the funeral while everyone was filing out to go to the cemetery and felt as sorry for him as I did for myself at losing such a great friend. 

I don’t remember seeing Victor or Dylan at the funeral.  They could have been sitting beside Joe for all I know…

-posted by Craig and David

Uncharged Conduct II

May 1, 2010

Half the Story

In the clerk’s office this week was thirty pages of Defense Joint Response to Government Notice of Uncharged Conduct II and Some Other Stuff.  Nowhere to be found was the government’s notice that this filing responds to, so this doc will have to serve as a study guide.

Who's the mystery long shot pick in the Derby?

In the government’s first uncharged notice from March, AUSA Glenn Kirschner blasted the defendants with the long list of S&M toys gear, “evidence of dominance and degradation, enslavement and electro-torture… evidence of incapacitation” and plenty on defendant Joe Price’s brother, Michael.

Much of that, as they say, has been winnowed.  It now appears the government intends to introduce three categories of “purported” evidence:

Evidence Concerning Access to Restraints

Evidence of the Late Reporting [of the burglary] as Proof of Conspiracy

Evidence of the Nature of the Defendants’ Unique Relationship as Proof of the Conspiracy.

Dylan Ward counsel David Schertler unloads on Kirschner and tweaks his deputy, T. Patrick Martin as well, using the grand jury transcripts of his questioning of Ward and fellow defendant Victor Zaborsky.

Read more…

Can You Hear Me Now?

April 30, 2010

The Whispered Assertions the Jury Will Never Hear

It’s rare a topic in this case comes along that so finely meshes with your editor’s skill sets…other than the basic one.  And by that we mean living  in DC long enough – and having been employed on some side of the communications business – to detect excrement when it happens.  (And, hopefully, still have the chutzpah of Sen. Levin to call a “…shitty deal…” exactly what it is.)  But at many levels, this case has been a learning exercise.

Last Friday, Victor Zaborsky’s counsel Thomas Connolly informed the court the defense would not call for testimony from Dr. Al Yonovitz, Chair and Associate Professor for the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders at the University of Montana.

Anything that slims the calendar may be a good thing for both sides.  And Dr. Yonovitz’ research – much based in Australia – demonstrates a sharp and admirable focus on improving treatment of the hearing impaired, especially among the aboriginal population.  Good work, Dr. Al.

But then we dug down into Dr. Yonovitz’s expected testimony, and questions popped up.  Questions as to the basis for his assertions – and the deeper questions they may have provoked that the defense may not have wanted.

Are you listening?   To be determined, after the jump.

Read more…

X-Ray Specs

April 29, 2010

Dr. Henry Lee Has A Vision

The involvement and expected testimony of celebrity forensics expert Dr. Henry Lee has long been a topic of discussion here.  First word of his work on behalf of the defendants surfaced at last November’s status hearing.

At the time, it wasn’t clear if he would become a permanent member of the team because of his extensive travel.  Managed by Joe Price Counsel Bernie Grimm, Lee ultimately signed on and as best we can figure for a hefty fee, upwards of $50,000 we were told, maybe higher.

His name next surfaced in a January letter Grimm sent to the government alerting them that Dr. Lee was going to be performing forensic tests on Item 16, the towel found in the guest room at 1509 Swann Street that was supposedly applied to Robert’s wounds by Price.

It appears Dr Lee’s testing is complete and the results are in.   While tens of thousands of defense dollars will be spent on expert witnesses who will testify on the many reasons blood was not found at the scene, Lee will take a different tack on the witness stand.

According to his testing, he actually found blood where few have seen much at all.  That towel.

Read more…

Do Dead Men Groan?

April 28, 2010

Does Defense’s Own Expert Contradict Defendants’ Statements?

In the government’s Omnibus Motion In Limine regarding Certain Designated Defense Experts, they focus on the testimony of Dr. Farzad Najam, a cardiac surgeon at George Washington University.

Dr. Farzad Najam, for the Defense... or Government?

Dr. Najam will testify that the stab wound to Mr. Wone’s heart could have caused “immediate incapacitation,” and would have caused a significant amount internal bleeding instead of an enormous amount of external bleeding.  (The prosecution aims to disallow Dr. Najam’s testimony as ‘outside scientific consensus’ – this debate will feature prominently at the May 5th hearing.)

This is crucial testimony for the defense as it supports the defendants’ contention they did not tamper with the crime scene by cleaning up a significant amount of blood – evidence the prosecution contends would have been found at the scene of a violent crime.

While Dr. Najam’s testimony supports one part of the defendants’ case, it also takes away another crucial element for the defendants.

What that is…after the jump.

Read more…

Deconstructing Harry

April 27, 2010

Now That The Embargo Has Been Lifted…

If you needed any more reason to go out and purchase the May edition of Washingtonian Magazine, this nugget that Harry Jaffe uncovered, is alone worth the cover price of $3.95.

In painstaking (and at times heartbreaking) detail, Harry traces the events of the days immediately following Robert’s murder, as the shock of the tragedy was starting to set in.  Our idea of that timeline has never been precisely clear, and Harry put the disparate pieces together.

Two days after the murder, on Friday, August 4, 2006, the housemates, now defendants, Joe Price, Dylan Ward and Victor Zaborsky paid what could best be characterized as a condolence call in Oakton.

In Harry’s telling of the events, Kathy Wone spent a half hour alone with them in the basement and at one point asked them, “What happened?”

“They told her that they had a glass of water with Robert and gone to sleep, that they heard grunts, that an intruder had come into their house.

They gave her no details of how her husband might have died.”

Kathy Wone was later interviewed at her home for an hour by MPD Detective Brian Waid the following day, Saturday.  With Kathy during that interview was Robert’s longtime friend and roommate Jason Torchinsky, an attorney and former federal prosecutor.

The next day, on Sunday evening, while Jason was writing his eulogy for the upcoming Tuesday funeral, his cell phone rang.  It was Joe Price calling.

Read more…