Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods
Acquitted?!
Price, Zaborsky and Ward
Price, Zaborsky and Ward
In August 2006, Radio Free Asia general counsel Robert Wone arranged to spend the night at some friends' house in Washington, D.C., to avoid the commute to his suburban home. The friends were Joseph Price (top left), a college buddy, and Victor Zaborsky (bottom), Price's domestic partner; also living in the house was Dylan Ward (top right), who was also sexually involved with Price. Less than an hour after Wone arrived at the house, though, Zaborsky phoned 911 to alert police that Wone had been stabbed. Paramedics arrived in minutes, but Wone was pronounced dead at the hospital a half hour later. The investigation almost immediately focused on Price, Zaborsky and Ward: All three had been home at the time of the attack, but none could provide any information about the attacker, all three proposing that an unknown intruder had somehow gained access to the house, which was protected with a home security system, and paramedics suspected Wone's body had been moved and the scene of the attack staged. The police investigation dragged on for two years before police, still lacking sufficient evidence to mount a murder case, charged Price, Zaborsky and Ward with obstruction of justice and conspiracy in late 2008.

The case went to trial in May 2010. The defendants waived their right to a jury trial, placing the case instead in the hands of the judge. The prosecution's case hit a snag when their knife expert was unable to conclusively establish the prosecution's theory that the knife found next to Wone's body was not the murder weapon. While the remarkable absence of blood around the body was noted, the defense offered a theory that the wounds could have resulted in internal bleeding, resulting in Wone's death without the blood loss the paramedics would have expected. In the end, the judge concluded that, while she believed that it was likely that the defendants knew who the killer was, the state had not shown beyond the higher "reasonable doubt" standard that the defendants had obstructed the investigation or conspired to thwart it. All three were acquitted, although a civil suit was filed against them by Wone's family, which remained unresolved as of July 2011.

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