City Desk

The Week in Wone: Zaborsky’s Smile, Price’s Exile

Last week, defendants Dylan Ward and Victor Zaborsky both looked relieved, speaking outside the courtroom with defense attorney Robert J. Spagnoletti. Zaborsky (seen here in a WJLA-TV clip) reportedly "spent much of the rest of [Thursday] with a smile on his face" after Judge Lynn Leibovitz threw out charges of evidence tampering against them. Now only alleged co-conspirator Joseph Price will face charges for possibly handling the knife that might have killed D.C. lawyer Robert Wone.

There might not be that much to smile about, however. Prior to the ruling, the trio each faced a combined 38 years imprisonment, if convicted on charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and evidence tampering. Without the tampering charges, they'll face a mere three years less, as in Ward and Zaborsky could still each end up serving a long 35-year bid in the pen.

Quickly: The three Dupont Circle men insist that an unknown intruder broke into their home at 1509 Swann Street NW and killed their friend Wone, who was staying the night in their guest room. Investigators, meanwhile, believe the men know the killer and are covering up for him. Among other things, prosecutors have accused the men of planting a second knife in place of the actual murder weapon. Murder charges have never been filed.

In any event, the blog, the place to go for blow-by-blow coverage of the case, coupled with insights into the trial's legalistic layers, had a psychologist on hand for Friday's session. Sitting in the courtroom, the shrink trained her keen eyes on the defendants for some afternoon analysis. Among the things noted by the expert, identified only as Gloria in the blog post, is that–perhaps after Thursday's smile session–Zaborsky was feeling comfortable enough to check his email. Zaborsky, she writes, "grabbed a chance to check his Blackberry at one point."

Other observations, there was an awkward moment when 35 minutes when Price seemed to be on the outs:

From 2:15 (start) to 2:50 pm, hardly a glance was exchanged from the twosome of Dylan and Victor to Joe although right after Dr. Smith went to the witness chair, Joe was staring at the two as if to get their attention, but they did not look his way.  After 2:50 and especially during breaks (including 3 lengthy bench conferences), there was more interaction.

Also, Ward may be (suspiciously?) detached from the proceedings, she points out.

"Throughout, I tried to think of a situation to which to compare his attitude – as a rather passive, mildly interested bystander, rather than as a defendant in his own trial.  Someone watching an interesting play or listening to a fairly interesting lecture that he would not be tested on later. Aloof, maybe. As if none of this really related to him but it was kind of interesting."

Testimony resumes Monday. Closing arguments in the case could come as soon as Wednesday.

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  • Rick Mangus

    Evil Queens!