Hands down, the best lawyer in the room in the Robert Wone trial was the judge. Judge Liebovitz peppered the attorneys before her with questions, even interrupting their closing arguments frequently. She reminded the attorneys about questions about laying the proper foundation for the introduction of evidence and rounding out the foundation for expert witnesses. In the testimony of Dr. Farzad Najam, it was the judge's questions that revealed he had never been an expert witness before and that his opinion about the lack of bleeding externally from the victim, Robert Wone, was in reference to the stab wound to the heart and not the two stab wounds to the abdomen.
Today, the judge focused on when the conspiracy could have begun at its earliest or latest in questioning the prosecution. The scream, replied the prosecutor Kirschner, would be the latest. By the time of the 911 call, the defendants were speaking collectively. Aside from that, Econo-Girl noticed in the videotape played at trial that Mr. Price exclaimed "We didn't kill him!" during his interrogation with the police, speaking collectively.
The prosecution claimed the evidence that Mr. Ward was a conspirator was in the 911 call on the night of the murder. His statement was implausible, his discovery of the back door being ajar when he couldn't even see it, and his being silenced by Mr. Price with a glare in the living room when the police were there that night talking to them about what happened demonstrated that.
For Mr. Zaborsky, the indicators of a conspiracy were statements made after what the prosecution calls the "Mercedes meeting" in the parking lot of the police station the night of the murder. He became a conspirator after the scream by calling 911 and reading from a script because it's clear he spoke with Price.
The prosecution argued that the judge would have to find a communication that something bad happened from two of the defendants to the third. He stated that it would not have to be a communication of a specific fact to constitute obstruction of justice.
Bernie Grimm's closing statement pronounced the name of the victim incorrectly throughout. At least he was consistent. He stated that there was no evidence one way or another how this murder happened. He claimed that if a person didn't know the actual truth and they said something different from the truth, it was not a lie. He pointed out that Mike Price, his client, had his brother arrested for breaking and entering and this action demonstrated that he did not have a blind sense of loyalty that would cause him to lie to others in the event of murder.
Thomas Connelly's closing statement argued that Mr. Zaborsky never knew or talked to anybody or entered into any agreement. He cried when the police got there and "he simply doesn't know what happened." The attorney further argued that omitting information in talking to the police is not obstruction of justice unless the fact is material and significant.
Attorney Schertler's closing argument was engaging and troubling. "This case is built on assumption, speculation and innuendo." He pointed to the time frame 10:30 to 11:49 p.m. on the night of the murder. "If you don't know what happened, you can't prove they lied." "Nothing about the state's case is inherently credible." "There is a void in the evidence they just can't fill."
Talking about uncertainty about the charges against the defendents, Mr. Shertler said to the judge "I think we can see your lack of certainty by the questions you've been asking." Do you think this made her happy? She was asking everybody tough questions. This guy had some issues with the judge. You don't talk to judges this way. I know he used to be her boss. But still.
Counsel claimed that you cross the line when you make an affirmative answer which wasn't true, otherwise it is not an obstruction of justice.
Speaking of crossing the line, Schertler really did it after that. Dismissing Dr. Goslinoski's testimony as so refuted as to not be worth discussing, Judge Liebowitz became really annoyed. "She is the only person who testified who wasn't paid to be there. She was getting paid the same no matter what. SHE DOESN'T GET PAID TO CHANGE HER OPINION." That remark was a slam to Mr. Schertler, who used to be a prosecutor and now was a defense lawyer, presumably because it paid better.
Not stopping there, Mr. Schertler said there was no evidence on whether Mr. Wone was moved or not, which was not true. He claimed "this case borders on the Kafkaesque." He finished saying there is no evidence Mr. Ward knew more and lied to the police or saw or heard something and lied to the police about it.
The prosecution's rebuttal was argued by Ms. Lieber who did an outstanding job. She said that the defendants provided details contradicted by evidence. She painted a picture of a super ninja who scaled an eight foot fence, entered the house, stole a knife, killed Mr. Wone and then left without taking anything. As to the circumstantial nature of the case, she pointed out that it was a conspiracy case without an insider testifying. As such, it will be by necessity a circumstantial case. Very fine performance.
At last, the trial ended. And the judge treated us with a promise that she will render a verdict next Tuesday at 11 a.m.