City Desk

Defense: Here’s How You Scale An ‘Impossible’ Fence

1509 Swann Street NW, rear view

1509 Swann Street NW, rear view

Defense attorney Thomas Connolly turned the tables on prosecutors Thursday in the sensational trial of three Dupont Circle men accused of covering up their friend Robert Wone's mysterious 2006 murder. 

After sitting through hours of video footage of police interrogations of his client, Victor Zaborsky, and fellow defendants Joe Price and Dylan Ward, Connolly whipped out a video all his own–this one illustrating just how easy it is to scale the fence behind 1509 Swann Street NW, a feat one of the government's lead investigators had previously described as "almost impossible."

In the video, Connolly himself grabs hold of a small ledge in between the lower fence and upper level cross-hatching, pulls himself up and ultimately climbs over the tall fence. The video also shows two other men accomplish the same feat. The entire segment takes less than a minute.

Prosecutors immediately objected to Connolly's videotaped submission. Judge Lynn Leibovitz indicated she would allow it but not before jokingly asking Connolly, "Did you climb it with pork loin?" (Inside joke.) To which, the courtroom erupted in laughter.

The actual scalability of the seemingly insurmountable fence at 1509 Swann Street could aid the defense in establishing reasonable doubt. Price, Ward and Zaborsky have long maintained that an unknown intruder broke into their house via the fenced-in backyard one August night in 2006 and fatally stabbed Wone.

Prosecutors have dismissed the intruder theory as unlikely and accuse the trio of tampering with evidence and otherwise conspiring to cover up the true nature of Wone's killing.

In yet another video presented by the defense team Thursday, a couple of other guys take a different approach to scale the same fence, this time hoisting themselves over by way of a nearby shed.

The defense team additionally pointed to two reports of other alleged fence-scaling burglary attempts in the immediate neighborhood, including an incident at the very same house on Swann Street (albeit a different owner) some two years after the murder in which a thief purportedly scaled the fence, snatched a bicycle from the backyard and hopped back over the fence again.

On the witness stand, police Det. Bryan Wade confirmed the other fence-scaling reports. Upon re-examination by the prosecution, however, Wade noted that investigators had inspected the fence after the crime and found no signs of disturbed dirt or pollen that would suggest the tall wooden structure had been climbed.

Staff photo by Alex Burchfield and Kim Chi Ha

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