The Washington Post

Day one in trial of Southeast man charged with killing neighbor after believing neighbor’s dog soiled lawn

Opening statements began Wednesday in D.C. Superior Court in the murder trial of a Southeast Washington man charged in the stabbing death of his neighbor after he came to believe his neighbor’s dog soiled his lawn, authorities said.

In took two days for a jury to be picked in the murder trial of Ellsworth Colbert, 57, who is charged with second-degree murder in the March 4, 2012, stabbing death of his neighbor Robert Leroy Wright, 36.

Prosecutors contend that Colbert became irate and said Wright’s dog had fouled his yard, and that Colbert, holding a knife and an aluminum walking stick, attacked Wright. Detectives said there was no evidence that Wright’s pit bull had soiled Colbert’s lawn.

The confrontation began in front of Colbert’s house in the 3500 block of Pope Street SE, according to testimony during a preliminary hearing. Wright’s friend, who was walking the dog at the time, and Colbert then walked to the nearby 3600 block of Highwood Drive, where Wright lived and where the fatal stabbing occurred.

Colbert’s attorney argued that his client was attacked by Wright and his friend, and that Colbert was defending himself after Wright struck him with a shovel.

A medical examiner’s report showed that Wright died of stab wounds to his neck, chest, abdomen and back.

The trial, before Judge Herbert B. Dixon, is expected to last a little more than a week.

Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of slain federal intern Chandra Levy.

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