We’ve written before about the tragic murder of Robert Wone, a promising young Asian-American attorney in Washington. At the time of his death, Wone, 32, was the general counsel of Radio Free Asia; prior to that, he was an associate at Covington & Burling.
We would have written more about the Wone murder, but one problem is that there hasn’t been much to write about. Years after the August 2006 murder, the case remains unsolved.
But now, with trial looming — a trial on charges of conspiracy, obstruction, and tampering, but not murder — there are some new developments to report. And some of them are deeply disturbing.
There’s a fair amount of background to this case. Let’s review it, briefly. From the most comprehensive site about the case, Who Murdered Robert Wone:
On August 2nd, 2006, Washington attorney Robert E. Wone was murdered at 1509 Swann Street. Over two years passed before any criminal charges were filed – and then only conspiracy, obstruction of justice and tampering charges were brought against Swann Street housemates Joe Price, Victor Zaborsky and Dylan Ward.
Two and a half years later, very little seems clear about what happened that night, and who murdered Robert Wone. A cloud of suspicion also hangs over the Swann Street defendants. A speedy trial is in their best interests as well.
As we noted before, this case has a number of legal-world linkages (in addition to Wone’s time at Covington):
Former Covington partner Eric Holder, now the U.S. Attorney General, previously represented Wone’s widow, Kathy — who has filed a wrongful death suit against the three housemates. One of the trio [of Swann Street defendants], Joseph Price — who along with his housemates now faces obstruction of justice (but not murder) charges — was a partner at Arent Fox, until [he resigned] from the firm (after a lengthy leave of absence). Price was also active in the marriage equality movement, as former general counsel of Equality Virginia.
On to the latest developments (which happened earlier this week; we would have covered them earlier, if not for our recent technical difficulties, which surely you’ve noticed — and for which we apologize). As first reported by the BLT, a government filing (PDF) spells possible trouble for the defendants:
The government’s filing gives notice to the defense attorneys that the prosecution, led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner, may try to prove uncharged crimes beyond what is alleged in the indictment. The government has alleged Wone was restrained and sexually assaulted, but has not charged anyone with those acts. Prosecutors say argument and evidence regarding the restraint, assault and murder of Wone is admissible.
Craig Brownstein — one of the bloggers behind Who Murdered Robert Wone, which you should visit for gavel-to-gavel coverage — described the filing more colorfully to ATL:
In the 13-page doc, AUSA Glenn Kirschner totally unloaded and indicated he’s going to go balls to the wall in the trial, not shying away at all from his initial theories that Robert Wone was injected with a paralytic agent, restrained and sexually assaulted before he was stabbed to death. He contends the conspiracy and obstruction was orchestrated to cover up for and protect the killer — who he says is known to the defendants.
Also: To buttress his injection accusation, Kirschner points to Defendant Joe Price’s troubled younger brother Michael, who as a phlebotomy student may have had ready access to the both the equipment and drugs.
The only blood-drawing class that Michael missed happened to be on the night of the murder, August 2, 2006. Yet another odd and quirky wrinkle among many in the case.
For more “odd and quirky” detail, check out Gawker, which provides a laundry list of some of the S&M equipment that the defendants possessed — and allegedly may have used on the night of the murder. The highlight of this cornucopia of sadomasochistic paraphernalia: an electro-ejaculation device called the “EROSTEK ET302R electrical shockwave generator” (featuring “variable current settings,” according to the government filing).
John Cook of Gawker describes the equipment as “avant garde sex toys.” But that might be too tame a reference to “metal anal probes” and “assorted anal probes with conducting surfaces to be used with Erostek unit to administer shocks.”
“To generally classify them as ‘sex toys’ doesn’t do them justice,” one tipster told ATL. “The best part of all is that the government had to write, with a straight face, that the evidence should be admitted due to its ‘probative value.’ You can’t make this stuff up.”
Setting aside the salacious details, we hope that justice will be done in this case — and that the murderer will be discovered, after all these years.
Black And Blueprint [Who Murdered Robert Wone]
Prosecutors press on with obstruction case in Wone killing [Washington Post]
Prosecutors Outline Evidence, Murder Theory in Wone Case [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]
The Weird Weirdos Accused of Murdering Robert Wone [Gawker]
With Trial Approaching, Robert Wone Murder Case Heats Up [WSJ Law Blog]
Earlier: The Mysterious Murder of Robert Wone: An Update