Attorney: Suspect's brother may be Wone killer
Tuesday, June 1, 2010; 3:43 PM
District prosecutors have spent weeks building a case that three friends and housemates conspired to cover up evidence in the 2006 slaying of a young attorney. On Tuesday, they said the younger brother of one of those men "may have been" the killer.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner also said that the government doesn't have enough evidence to charge the brother ¿ or anyone else ¿ with the fatal stabbing of Robert Wone.
"I can't prove it beyond a reasonable doubt," Kirschner said in D.C. Superior Court.
Wone, 32, who worked as general counsel for Radio Free Asia, was killed Aug. 2, 2006, after he decided to spend the night at a friend's Dupont Circle townhouse to avoid the commute to his home in Oakton, Va., after a late night at the office.
The three housemates ¿ Joseph R. Price, 39, Victor J. Zaborsky, 44, and Dylan M. Ward, 40 ¿ told authorities that an intruder entered the home they shared at 1509 Swann St. NW through an unlocked back door and stabbed Wone three times in the chest as he slept in a guest room.
But prosecutors allege that the trio, who have said they are in a three-way committed relationship, know who killed their houseguest and are covering for the killer or killers. Each is being tried on charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence.
In court Tuesday, Kirschner, the lead prosecutor, persuaded Judge Lynn Leibovitz to consider evidence that Price's younger brother, Michael C. Price, might have been the killer. Michael Price is not charged with any crimes in connection with Wone's death.
Kirschner said prosecutors will present evidence that the younger Price, who has a history of substance abuse problems, had a key to the home and knew the security code. They said he missed a phlebotomy class the night of the killing, but had been a conscientious student who attended regularly.
Prosecutors also plan to present evidence of a confrontation between Michael Price and a homicide detective on the day of Wone's funeral. Price allegedly, in a profanity-laced rage, accused police of focusing on his brother instead of searching for the real killer.
In addition, prosecutors said, several months after the killing, flat-screen TVs and other items were stolen from the townhouse, and the roommates suspected Michael Price. Prosecutors said the men initially delayed reporting the burglary to police primarily because Joseph Price insisted on protecting his brother ¿ a sign, prosecutors say, that the housemates protect those close to them.
But Kirschner acknowledged that authorities could not directly link Michael Price to the killing.
"Do you have any evidence whatsoever that would put him at the crime scene that night?" Leibovitz asked.
"No," Kirschner said.
Kirschner also said that Michael Price had an alibi for the night Wone was killed. Michael Price's partner, he said, says Price was with him that evening.
Defense attorney Bernie S. Grimm, who is representing Joseph Price, argued that the judge shouldn't consider evidence regarding Michael Price. "There is no evidence that Michael Price was even in the District of Columbia," he said.