City Desk

Robert Wone Case: Two Possible Gaps in Police Work

The murder of Robert Wone is a tragic case. The circumstances of his murder are presented in the affidavit's now famous, grim narrative of drugging, stabbing, and sexual assault. Yesterday, a prominent lawyer called me to point out two holes in the law man's narrative involving the three—Victor Zaborsky, Dylan Ward, and Joe Price—now charged with obstruction of justice. The lawyer, who has zero involvement in this case, says these are holes any defense attorney would do well to exploit.

Defense attorneys have already started filing stuff in D.C. Superior Court. They may well turn their attention to these holes in the prosecutor's case if they haven't already.

Question No. 1

On pages five and six of the affidavit, Deputy Medical Examiner Lois Goslinoski notes that none of the knife wounds found on Wone would have rendered him "unconscious immediately." And that "unless otherwise incapacitated (e.g. by being injected with some type of incapacitating or paralytic drug), Mr. Wone would have reacted instinctively to protect himself and/or physically fed off his attacker." It goes on to state that no defensive wounds were found on Wone's hands or forearms. The affidavit notes three needle marks on his body.

Then there is this. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner did not find any incapacitating drugs in Wone's system. Standard toxicology tests were performed but those tests only screen for a series of drugs like cocaine, methadone, carbon monoxide, meth, ethanol, and barbiturates, among others. "All of which were negative," the affidavit states.

Now here's the admission of a possible mistake the defense attorneys will exploit: "However, there are various incapacitating or paralytic drugs for which no tests were run as there was no early indication—in light of the statements that Price, Zaborsky and Ward gave to the police—that Mr. Wone may have been injected with any such drugs while at the Swann Street residence," the affidavit states.

Oops. Did the ME's Office keep a sample of Wone's blood to do further tests? Why wasn't a more extensive toxicology test performed since the needle marks were surely noted and the lack of defense wounds were probably easily picked up? Who messed this up—detectives or the ME's Office?

Question No. 2

After the crime scene was processed, the affidavit reports, that "a 'cadaver dog' trained to detect human blood and human remains was taken through the house." The dog alerted to possible blood in two locations—the lint trap from a dryer located outside Ward's bedroom, and an outside drain located "at the bottom of a set of stairs leading down to the rear entrance into the basement apartment."

So did police crime techs swab the lint trap and drain and see if Wone's blood was actually there? The affidavit doesn't say whether Wone's blood was found in those two places. If the police didn't check for Wone's DNA, why not?

*photo of Robert Wone by Model Minority.

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  • Eleonora D’Arborea

    I call bullshit.

    A scientist at Livermore labs devised a test to detect Pavulon from old samples. Pavulon is the paralytic agent that was used to kill patients in the nurse-serial killer-angel of death murders; its also used in lethal injection protocols, I believe.

    - quote:

    "At long last, the scientist was ready for the real deal. The authorities exhumed twenty bodies, and Andresen went to work. On the fourth try, he saw the Pavulon spike. "Up until that point I could have gone either way -- [Saldivar] was grandstanding and didn't kill anyone, or he was actually responsible," he says. "I got a hit on the fourth patient, and it took the wind out of my lungs. It was a real homicide. I had stepped into a completely different arena. It was a very sobering feeling, because the patients died a terrible death probably knowing what went on. They were paralyzed, fully conscious, but unable to do anything."

    Andresen kept testing and found five other Saldivar patients who'd been poisoned. Andresen's test proved so conclusive that instead of opting for a trial, Saldivar pleaded guilty to killing six elderly patients by injection in 1996 and 1997. Four years after Saldivar's original confession, he was sentenced to six consecutive life terms without parole.

    -end quote

    If they don't have a sample now, they can exhume the poor man's remains and get one.

  • dukeduke

    If this was some rich, cute white 9 year old, it would have gotten national media attention and pressure. The DA would be all over the case and the mystery would have been solved long ago. But, because this is the death of a low paid lawyer working for a cause in the middle of DC, it wasn't important enough. Common media.. put some pressure on the matter and get the police and forensics to start putting 24/7 into the case.

    Mr. Wone was rendered helpless by injection or use of chloroform doesn't matter. What matters is the police failed to search for the actual weapon and over a year has passed, no evidence can be found. They will rely on the suspects telling the truth - how about a polygraph?!! Why not?!

  • TsionKop

    Wow...have you no shame? I know you are acquainted with one of the alleged killers so it's best you stay out of it. It's beyond me it took a year to charge these people. Put yourself in the victim's family's shoes and stop advocating for the alleged murderers. Finally, what I consider a big hole in the case is the defense trying to convince anyone someone broke in drugged, tortured, sodomized then showered and dressed the vicitm witout anyone else in the house god...the nerve

  • Piet

    If the author is truly acquainted with one of the defendants, then this should definitely be made in full disclosure within the article. Is this true or not City Paper????

  • Reid

    The DA would be all over the case and the mystery would have been solved long ago.

    DC doesn't have a DA. And it doesn't have it's own crime lab. Two facts that may affect the speed and efficacy with which cases are brought.

    But, because this is the death of a low paid lawyer working for a cause in the middle of DC, it wasn’t important enough.

    Um, do you know anything about this case? Wone was a lawyer at a ridiculously expensive law firm before he became the General Counsel of Radio Free Asia. This was hardly a poor lawyer toiling away in obscurity at a non-profit. I'll admit that it's a little surprising this hasn't hit the disgusting Nancy Grace-type exploitation media, but I can't say I'm disappointed that it hasn't.

    Also, I don't think Cherkis knows the accused. It was Banville that does, and I agree that she shouldn't be writing about it.

    All that said, I still think one or more of the accused did it and I don't think this information is dispositive of that.

  • TsionKop

    I stand corrected. You are right it is Julie Banville that knows one of the accused. I hope CP does a peace on how the prosecution can win to balance this story. Maybe talk to former DA or something. Right now it seems like they are trying to cast only doubt and not guilt. I wonder what the victim's wife thinks about all this.

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  • john

    question one
    they did do more tests on sample that they have held over, and still found nothing. the only ones they didnt test for was ones that wouldnt be present because of time

    question 2
    they didnt swab these areas because they took them with them, and the FBI have been testing them