At conspiracy trial in Robert Wone killing, 911 call is played

By Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The sobbing pleas on a 911 call from one of the three housemates charged with covering up the fatal stabbing of Washington lawyer Robert Wone filled a D.C. courtroom Tuesday.

Sitting next to his attorneys and co-defendants, Victor J. Zaborsky wiped away tears as he heard his voice on the 12-minute, 40-second recording that prosecutors played in D.C. Superior Court.

"He's not conscious. It's a male. He's a friend of ours. We need help now," Zaborsky cried. The pitch of his voice was so high and he was so emotional that the emergency operator thought she was talking to a woman.

"Ma'am, calm down. Who stabbed him? Is the person in the house?" the operator asked.

"I don't know who stabbed him. We don't know how they got in. The person has one of our knives," Zaborsky said. "I'm afraid to go downstairs. Help us."

Zaborsky, 44, and his housemates, Joseph R. Price, 39, and Dylan M. Ward, 39, were charged in 2008 with conspiracy, obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence in connection with the Aug. 2, 2006, killing in their Dupont Circle townhouse. They face a maximum of 38 years in prison if found guilty on all counts. No one has been charged with killing Wone.

The operator told Zaborsky to get a towel and press it firmly on the stab wounds and not let up, even when the towel became saturated with blood. Zaborsky said Price was in the guest room holding a towel over the wounds. He said he went to investigate after hearing screams and the back door chime and screamed when he discovered Wone's body. Zaborsky said the chime went off when the intruder left the house.

Then Zaborsky asked the operator a question that prosecutors believe was essential in the conspiracy. "What time is it?"

The operator repeated Zaborsky's question and then said, "11:54."

Time is one of the key factors in the prosecution. Authorities believe that the three men left Wone's body alone for several minutes while they cleaned up the crime scene, hid the knife and called police. The men deny any coverup and say an intruder broke into the house. Zaborsky made the call at 11:49 p.m. Wone arrived at the house sometime after 10:30 p.m., after working late.

William Thomas lived next door to the home at 1509 Swann St. NW and shared a common wall. He testified that he got out of bed to use the bathroom and heard a scream. Thomas never checked the clock, but he heard his wife, Claudia, watching the 11 p.m. news on WJLA (Channel 7) and heard anchor Maureen Bunyan's voice. Claudia Thomas gave similar testimony.

Using Thomas's timeline, prosecutors believe the men had as much as 49 minutes from the time the newscast began, or as little as 12 minutes after the newscast ended, to clean up and call police.

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