D.C. Superior Court Judge Frederick Weisberg ordered Dec. 19 that three gay men indicted on ''obstruction of justice'' charges in the investigation of the murder of Robert Wone be removed from electronic monitoring. He also released them from a 10 p.m. curfew, saying that they pose no threat nor flee risk.
''I think that's appropriate in this case to start at personal recognizance and work our way up,'' Weisberg said. ''I don't see why evening monitoring and curfew is necessary for any of these men in D.C. The things that are rooted here, like full-time employment, are affected. ... I can understand that.''
The three are still required to submit to weekly drug testing.
Wone was a 32-year-old lawyer who died of multiple stab wounds in August 2006 in a Swann Street NW townhouse where the three indicted men lived. He was spending the night at the residence, home of a college classmate, after working late in the District, rather than return to Oakton, Va., where he lived with his wife, Kathy Wone.
The three indicted men -- Wone's fellow alumnus, local attorney Joseph Price; Price's partner, Victor Zaborsky; and their former roommate, Dylan Ward -- claim an intruder killed Wone. But a 14-page affidavit released by Metropolitan Police Department in early November, detailing what evidence was found at the residence, led investigators to suspect the three were hiding information and that the crime scene had been tampered with.
Weisberg also granted the three the right to travel domestically for work purposes as long as they notify authorities of their departure and arrival dates.
The courtroom on Tuesday was filled to capacity, and included many Wone family members.
Ward's attorney, David Schertler, said that Ward is hoping to spend the holidays with his ''ailing mother'' in Seattle. He argued that Ward and the other three men have shown no intent to flee.
''These gentlemen all knew these charges were coming. ... Nobody tried to flee,'' Schertler told the court. ''Their intention is to address the allegations in court. ... These three men are all professional, all well-established. ... There's nothing to indicate that these men are dangerous.''
U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner attempted to counter that argument.
''We have an innocent victim who, over a prolonged period of time, was tortured,'' he said, adding that the prosecution is investigating whether Wone -- whom investigators have speculated may have been drugged in some way, despite negative toxicology results -- was subjected to an electrical device that could have made him ejaculate. Kirschner said that an ''electric-ejaculator machine with an anal probe'' was found in Ward's room.
While tests showed no drugs present in Wone's system, the MPD affidavit claims that drugs for which Wone was not tested may have been used. Inspection of the crime scene indicated that Wone was likely incapacitated during the stabbing.
A pretrial, which will allow the defense and prosecution to set the boundaries of the criminal trial, is scheduled for Jan. 16. Separately, Kathy Wone in November filed a civil suit against the three defendants seeking $20 million in damages for their alleged role in obstructing the investigation.