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The second week of the Robert Wone trial began with a sharp focus from the defense — and discussion of sharp glances on the scene and within the courtroom.
Three gay men — Joseph Price, Victor Zaborsky and Dylan Ward — face charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and evidence tampering in the death of attorney Robert Wone.
Following emotional testimony from Wone’s widow, Katherine Wone, the government moved to crime scene evidence and the behavior of the three defendants.
Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Charles Patrick and others testified that Joe Price was “shooting glares” at housemates Ward and Zaborsky when questioned by responding patrol officers. Other testimony from the prosecution has attempted to portray the three housemates as colluding in their statements and actions, testimony the defense has vigilantly attempted to shoot down.
The prosecution’s witness, Det. Sgt. Daniel Wagner, created controversy regarding both his behavior the night of the murder and in the courtroom.
Seen on videotape grilling Ward and Price, Wagner at various times made clear his “disbelief” that a straight man would voluntarily spend the night at the house of friends who are gay.
“This guy’s perfectly straight and he’s going to leave his wife for the night and come over to you all’s house,” Wagner can be seen saying on the tape. “I don’t buy it,” he said, going on to charge Ward and Price with plying Wone with wine to “bring him to Jesus,” suggesting a sexual encounter.
On the stand, Wagner not only defended his suspicion of the scene and the housemates, but re-affirmed his belief that Wone would never have chosen to stay at the house of a gay friend over his own home in suburban Virginia, even suggesting an interest in “experimentation” on Robert’s part.
While much was made of the “glares” that may have been exchanged by defendants the night of the murder, Judge Lynn Leibovitz’ tight courtroom itself has seen its share of glances.
Throughout video replay of their statements, Ward’s gaze remained fixed on the screen, while Price didn’t once look up from his notes.
However in the courtroom, gazes have increased across the aisle. Supporters and opponents of the defendants have increased their visibility, even to the point of staring down members of the media.
This confrontation reached a limit Tuesday when defendant Dylan Ward directly spoke to a member of the media, accusing them of “falling asleep” during a videotaped replay. The reporter denied dozing off, but the interaction raised eyebrows. “I’m offended,” Ward said to the reporter.
As tensions rise in the courtroom, it appears patience may be fading on the part of Judge Lynn Leibovitz. After weeks of repeated requests to the prosecution for a specific list of statements it intends to introduce “as fact”, Leibovitz gave the government a dressing down.
”Decide what your trial strategy is. We’re two weeks into this, so put it in writing so we all know,” said a clearly irritated Leibovitz to Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel Carlson Lieber. “Someone’s going to be staying up late tonight…and it isn’t me,” she admonished. She has also expressed some irritation with both the prosecution and defense for drawing the trial out longer than she deems necessary.
Doug Johnson is a blogger at WhoMurderedRobertWone.com, which is providing extensive daily coverage of the trial of Joe Price, Victor Zaborsky and Dylan Ward on charges of obstruction of justice in the investigation of the murder of Robert Wone.