Connect with us

Local

Wone hearing to discuss S&M devices

Published

on

A prosecutors’ request to introduce evidence that police found a collection of S&M devices in the home of three gay men implicated in the 2006 murder of Washington attorney Robert Wone is expected to be debated Friday during a D.C. Superior Court hearing.

The hearing follows a prosecutors’ February court filing seeking permission to submit evidence at trial alleging that defendants Joseph Price, Victor Zaborsky and Dylan Ward engaged in “conduct” not identified in the charges pending against them that could further link them to the murder. The trial is scheduled to begin May 10.

The three have been indicted on charges of obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and evidence tampering in connection with Wone’s August 2006 stabbing death inside their house near Dupont Circle. Authorities have yet to charge anyone with the murder itself.

The men have pleaded not guilty to the charges and have said an unknown intruder killed Wone after entering their home through a rear door while they slept in their respective bedrooms.

According to the prosecutors’ filing last month, the new evidence includes a collection of sex toys and S&M books and manuals seized from the defendants’ home. Some of the devices are used to tie and restrain someone engaged in S&M activity while other devices seized are used to administer an electric shock to a person’s genitals, the prosecutors say.

While noting that these devices are not illegal and their use does not constitute a crime, prosecutors say in the court filing that “said evidence clearly passes” federal rules of evidence “as its probative value is exceedingly high and the prejudicial effect is quite low.”

Police have said Wone was restrained, immobilized with a paralytic drug, sexually assaulted and then stabbed to death, most likely in a guest bedroom in the upscale townhouse where the three men lived at the time.

Legal observers say the request to use the S&M devices as evidence at trial suggests that prosecutors might use it to develop a possible motive for the murder that the defense claims is lacking in the government’s case.

But in a separate court filing in February, defense attorneys accuse prosecutors of seeking to use the S&M devices, which the defense labels “erotic accessories,” as sensational and inflammatory “evidence” that has no relevance to the case and which would prejudice the jury.

“Here there is no evidence that Wone was restrained in any fashion and absolutely no evidence that any one of the erotic accessories was used on Wone for any purpose, never mind in connection with his death,” defense attorneys say in their filing.

Among the items seized from the Swann Street home of the three men, according to the prosecutors filing, are “floggers,” “assorted dildos,” “scrotal harness with weight attachments,” and devices designed to administer an electric shock to various parts of someone’s body, including the penis and anal area.

The 39-page defense filing, among other things, disputes an assertion by prosecutors’ that an autopsy finding traces of Wone’s own semen inside his rectum and on his genitals is evidence that he was sexually assaulted before being murdered. Defense attorneys say in their filing that they will present testimony at trial by expert witnesses showing that the traces of Wone’s semen on his body did not contain any sperm cells.

The lack of sperm cells indicates that the semen found on the body was due to a normal discharge of various bodily fluids including urine and seminal fluids that occurs when men die and internal muscles relax, the defense filing says.

“There were no obvious, external signs of sexual assault, restraint or electro-torture,” says the defense filing. “Indeed, the government itself did not claim that Wone was sexually assaulted until after the FBI tested the forensic swabs [of Wone’s genital and anal areas] more than two years after Wone’s death,” it says.

Investigators said Wone, 32, who was a college friend of Price, spent the night at the men’s home after working late in his downtown office. Wone was married to a woman and lived in Oakon, Va. Family members have said he was straight.

Price and Zaborsky, who are domestic partners, and Ward told police an intruder killed Wone after entering the home while they were asleep in their respective bedrooms.

Police and prosecutors dispute that claim, saying there’s no evidence of a break-in. They point to an autopsy showing Wone suffered from three “clean,” surgical-like stab wounds, with no signs of struggle. They also have said the autopsy indicates the wounds could only have been inflicted if Wone was immobilized by a drug.

But the defense team says in its court filings that the autopsy and chemical tests of the body have not found any traces of a paralytic drug, and it disputes the government’s claim that such drugs quickly dissipate within the body and can’t be found by chemical tests. The defense filing does not address the issue of the “clean” stab wounds that prosecutors say could only happen if a person is immobilized by an anesthesia-type drug.

Killer ‘known to’ men?

In their Feb. 5 court filing, which was made public Feb. 15, prosecutors reiterate earlier statements that they lacked evidence to charge anyone with the murder itself. But for the first time, they say that they believe “the killer is someone known to and being protected by” Price, Zaborsky and Ward.

“Given the sophistication and success of the defendants’ cover-up of the murder of Robert Wone, the evidence obtained to date does not yet establish beyond a reasonable doubt who actually killed Robert Wone,” says the court filing.

“Although the government investigation into the murder continues, there is ample admissible evidence demonstrating the killer is someone known to the defendants, and not, as the defendants told the police, an unknown, unseen, unheard, phantom intruder who entered without force, took nothing from the home, went to the farthest reaches of the second floor of the home, stabbed Robert Wone (while Robert Wone lay immobile), and then fled without a sound and without taking any item from the home or disturbing anything therein,” it says.

The government’s filing also for the first time suggests that Joseph Price’s brother, Michael Price, could be a person of interest linked to the Wone murder.

In October 2006, two months after the murder, D.C. police arrested Michael Price and an accomplice on a charge of burglarizing the Swann Street home where the murder took place, saying they entered the then vacant home using a key that Joseph Price had given Michael Price sometime earlier. At the time, police said they had no evidence to link the burglary to the murder.

In their court filing last month, prosecutors say they found that Michael Price had been enrolled in a course at Montgomery College, studying to be a phlebotomist from June through August of 2006. A phlebotomist is trained to draw blood from patients at hospitals or other medical facilities through the use of special hypodermic needles.

“Course attendance records reflect that Michael Price attended each and every scheduled class beginning on June 7, 2006, and running through July 31, 2006,” the government filing says. “However, those same records reflect that the first time he missed class was on Aug. 2, 2006, the night Robert Wone was killed.”

The filing adds in a footnote, “It should be noted that Michael Price’s partner, Louis Hinton, provided an alibi for Michael Price at the time of the murder.”

In a related development, defense attorneys last week filed motions asking that the case against Joseph Price, Zaborsky and Ward be “severed” so that each one would have a separate trial.

These and the filings by prosecutors seeking to introduce the S&M-related evidence are expected to be debated at Friday’s court status hearing before Judge Lynn Leibovitz.

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

Baltimore

Baltimore Pride event disrupted by possible chemical agent, causing panic and injuries

Incident caused a stampede

Published

on

This year’s Pride Parade and Festival was expected to attract 100,000 people. (Photo by Kaitlin Newman/the Baltimore Banner)

BY JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV and BRENNA SMITH | A possible chemical agent was released in front of the main stage at the Baltimore Pride Parade and Block Party on Saturday night, causing a stampede.

The incident occurred around 7 p.m. and police did not release the chemical agent, according to a spokesperson. The main stage for the event was located near North Avenue and Charles Street.

The rest of this article can be found on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

Continue Reading

District of Columbia

Accused drug dealer charged with fentanyl distribution leading to deaths of two D.C. gay men

June 13 indictment links previously arrested suspect to deaths

Published

on

(Bigstock photo)

The Office of the U.S. Attorney for D.C. has announced that federal prosecutors on June 13 obtained an indictment against one of two D.C. brothers previously charged with multiple counts of illegal drug distribution that now charges him with “distributing cocaine and fentanyl” on Dec. 26, 2023, that resulted in the deaths of D.C. gay men Brandon Roman and Robert “Robbie” Barletta.

In a June 13 press release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Jevaughn ‘Ledo’ Mark, 32, is charged in a new “secondary superseding indictment” linked to the Roman and Barletta deaths. It says he and his brother, Angelo Mark, 30, “previously were charged on April 9 in a 17-count superseding indictment for participating in a conspiracy that distributed large amounts of fentanyl and cocaine in the metropolitan area.”

The press release says Jevaughn Mark is currently being held without bond on charges that include eight counts of unlawful distribution of fentanyl, cocaine, and heroin and distributing 40 grams or more of fentanyl between Jan. 10, 2024, and March 13, 2024. According to the press release, the charges were based on six illegal drug purchases from Jevaughn Mark by undercover U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and undercover D.C. police officers.

Court records show that Angelo Mark was charged in a criminal complaint on March 22 with multiple counts of conspiracy to distribute narcotics and is also being held without bond.

D.C. police and Fire and Emergency Medical Services reports show that Roman, 38, a prominent D.C. attorney and LGBTQ rights advocate, and Barletta, 28, a historic preservation expert and home renovation business owner, were found unconscious when police and emergency medical personnel responded to a 911 call and arrived at Barletta’s home on Dec. 27. The reports show that Roman was declared deceased at the scene and Barletta was taken to Washington Hospital Center where he died on Dec. 29.

A police spokesperson told the Washington  Blade in February that police were investigating the Roman and Barletta deaths, but investigators had to wait for the D.C. Medical Examiner’s official determination of the cause and manner of death before the investigation could fully proceed.

Both men were patrons at D.C. gay bars and their passing prompted many in the LGBTQ community to call for stepped up prevention services related to drug overdose cases, even though the cause and manner of death for the two men was not officially determined until early April.

In April, the D.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner disclosed that the cause of death for both men was an accidental consumption of several drugs that created a fatal “toxic” effect. The Medical Examiner’s office said Barletta’s death was linked to the consumption of at least four different drugs and Roman’s death was caused by the “combined toxic effect” of six drugs. The Medical Examiner’s office disclosed that cocaine and fentanyl were among the drugs found in the bodies of both men. And for both men, the manner of death was listed as “Accident/Intoxication.”

When the cause and manner of death were disclosed by the Medical Examiner, D.C. police spokesperson Tom Lynch said the police investigation into the deaths remained open but said, “There are no updates on the investigation that we are ready to release to the public.”

But the Medical Examiner’s findings prompted Johnny Bailey, the community outreach coordinator for HIPS D.C., an LGBTQ supportive organization that provides services and support for those who use recreational drugs, to say he strongly believed that Barletta and Roman did not intentionally consume some of the drugs found in their system.

“I’m going to say I do believe this was a poisoning,” Bailey told the Blade. “I think it is unfair to call some things an overdose because an overdose is when you do too much of a drug and you die from that drug,” he said. “This is like if you have a few glasses of wine every night and someone puts arsenic in your wine, no one would be like, ‘oh, they drank themselves to death.’ They were poisoned. And that’s what I think is happening here,” he said in referring to Barletta and Roman.

In announcing the new charges against Jevaughn Mark that link him to Barletta and Roman’s deaths, the U.S. Attorney’s press release discloses that he supplied fentanyl in the drugs he sold unknowingly to the undercover DEA and D.C. police officers when one of the officers, posing as a drug buyer, did not ask for fentanyl.

“In each instance, the DEA/MPD agents requested to buy ‘Special K’ or Ketamine from Jevaughn Mark,” the press release says. “In every instance, Jevaughn Mark supplied a mixture of fentanyl and other substances, including heroin, but not ketamine,” it says.

The release says that after the earlier indictment against Jevaughn Mark was issued, law enforcement agents conducted a search of his Southeast D.C. home and “recovered two firearms, cocaine, fentanyl, about $38,000 in cash, body armor vests, and drug trafficking paraphernalia.” It says on that same day authorities executed another search for a second residence linked to Jevaughn Mark, where they located a bedroom used by his brother Angelo Mark.

“From Angelo Mark’s bedroom, law enforcement recovered seven firearms, 900 rounds of ammunition, dozens of pills, cocaine, fentanyl, drug trafficking paraphernalia, and about $50,000 in cash,” the press release says, adding, “Based on the evidence, both brothers were indicted in the first superseding indictment.” 

Continue Reading

Delaware

Delmarva Pride to feature drag, dancing, and more this weekend

Easton and Cambridge to host events

Published

on

A scene from Delmarva Pride. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Delmarva Peninsula will hold its annual Pride celebration this weekend, including drag shows, a festival, and much more. 

The Delmarva Pride Center will put on the annual Pride celebration starting on Friday, June 14, and it will go until Sunday to celebrate queer love and acceptance in Delmarva.  

The weekend kicks off on Friday with a free legal clinic in partnership with FreeState Justice at the Academy Art Museum, 106 South St., Easton, Md. Free legal services including name and gender marker changes, criminal record expungements, and peace and protection orders are just some of the services being offered. For more information visit freestate-justice.org.

Then on Friday night, the third annual Pride Drag Show will be at the Avalon Theatre, 40 E Dover St., in Easton. Bring your cash as four drag queens and host Miranda Bryant put on the fundraising show, where 100% of ticket sales go to the Delmarva Pride Center. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and performance begins at 7 p.m. For tickets visit avalonfoundation.org.

On Saturday there will be the Pride festival from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at  S. Harrison and E. Dover Street, in Easton. This free community festival will include vendors, live performances, and more. 

Saturday night the party gets going as Delmarva Pride will host its 2024 Pride Dance. There will be a DJ and drinks available for purchase. This event is for 18 and up and will include a cash bar for anyone 21 and up. No tickets are required. 

To round out your Pride weekend, on Sunday the Delmarva Pride Brunch will be held at ArtBar 2.0, 420b Race St. in Cambridge, Md. Tickets include food, access to the mimosa bar, and a drag performance. Tickets are available here

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade

Advertisement

Popular