The wife of slain Washington attorney Robert Wone on Wednesday settled a $20 million wrongful death lawsuit against the three roommates who shared the Dupont Circle-area rowhouse where Wone was fatally stabbed five years ago.
The agreement was reached on the fifth anniversary of Wone’s death. On the evening of Aug. 2, 2006, Wone, 32, was fatally stabbed in his chest and abdomen while spending the night at the elegant home in the 1500 block of Swann Street NW after working late at his job as general counsel for Radio Free Asia.
Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Two years after Wone’s slaying, D.C. prosecutors charged the three men with conspiracy to cover up the killing, obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence. During a trial last year, D. C. Superior Court Judge Lynn Leibovitz acquitted the men on all charges.
Wone’s widow Kathy filed the civil suit before the criminal trial began. But in September, the attorneys for the three men told a judge overseeing the civil trial that their clients would invoke their fifth amendment right not to offer any testimony before or during a trial.
During subsequent depositions, the men repeatedly declined to answer questions about the August evening, leaving Wone’s widow and her attorneys frustrated and resolved to the fact they may never learn what truly happened to her husband.
In the end Kathy Wone and her attorney decided to settle the suit, thus recovering some funds from the men — who have since sold the Swann Street home and moved to South Florida. The men have been financially strapped by years of legal costs.
Both sides avoided a lengthy trial civil trial the potential for subsequent appeals.
“I am very much at peace with this decision,” said Kathy Wone, 40, sitting in a conference room next to her attorney at the Pennsylvania Avenue offices of Covington & Burling.
“I agonized over this and put a lot of thought into it,” she said. “And I thought about what would Robert want me to do and nothing gave him more happiness than knowing I was at peace, focusing on hope and optimism.”
The funds from the settlement will be split between the Wone estate and a law clinic at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Robert Wone’s alma mater, that will provide legal aid to inner-city residents.
“I am moving on. I want to spend the next 40 years of my life focusing on good,” said Kathy Wone.
Wone’s attorney, Benjamin J. Razi, said if the case had gone to trial, it would have been a “show.”
“They weren’t going to come forward and provide any information. This case was never going to put anybody in jail or bring Robert back to life,” Razi said.
With the settlement, Kathy Wone and her attorney said they have received “justice” and some enlightenment about what happened to her husband of three years. She remains convinced that the three men were involved in her husband’s slaying.
“They can rot from the inside out from all the secrets they chose to keep,” she said. “That’s their choice. I chose to move on.”