The Robert Wone Trial: "It's Been Four Years of Hell"

That's the mother of a defendant Victor Zaborsky, not of Robert Wone. She's an upbeat, plump, sturdy blond with a determinedly cheerful smile. "He's our son," she told people waiting in line for the court doors to open. The experience become different when you are confronted with the obvious pain of a mother who seems like a very nice, respectable woman. My mind isn't changed, and my sympathy for the family of Robert Wone is not lessened. It just makes it harder to feel hostility towards the defendants.

Waiting for the trial to start, the line must have started 40 minutes before the doors opened. As usual, the press arrived late and were surprised that they were expected to stand in line with everybody else. The order for getting in the doors was family first, then lawyers and their hangers-on, and then the general public. The mysterious monochrome woman was there again today. While waiting, me and the women near me distracted ourselves with the good-looking sheriffs walking the hallways. And yes, DC has some very good-looking sheriffs.

The parents of both Victor Zaborsky and Dylan Ward were in the gallery today, and seated two rows behind them were the family of Robert Wone. Members of the Wone family left during some of the more grisly testimony.

Today's testimony was about Robert Wone's heart and how reasonable it was that not much blood was found.

Tracy Weaver was the first witness. She placed Wone in the medical unit and on a monitor. He was PEA, pulseless electrical activity. Her testimony that his arms were cold was not allowed.

The next witness was Dr. Fazad Najan, Associate Director of Cardiac Surgery. There was a Rule 16 objection and the ruling was that no PEA testimony was allowed because the defense didn't mention it earlier. There was another Rule 16 objection where blood in other parts of the body was not mentioned in the disclosure. The judge ruled that it addresses a matter that the prosecution already raised so the testimony was allowed.

Rule 703 objection because Dr. Najan was asked about his talking to colleagues about this case. The objection was overruled because the defense is not proving the matter asserted: i.e., that the other colleague agreed with Dr. Najan, but only his diligence. Right after that, counsel asked "Was that opinion consistent with yours?" "Yes" was the reply. The judge was very angry. Defense counsel went ahead and used the hearsay to prove the truth of the matter asserted. The judge commented on it and counsel basically ignored her and just continued with examining the witness. Not a banner day for the defense.

Dr.Najan essentially testified that a knife wound to the heart would not necessarily mean a lot of blood. The heart is covered by the pericardial sack which covers the lung also, the pluram and bony structure. As such, one would not see external hemmorage. It's all in the trajectory of the cut, not its size. The prosecutor got Dr. Najan to admit that it could have been more than 5 seconds until Mr. Wone passed out. He also admitted that his analysis did not extend to the wounds in the abdomen. So his nifty, stab-in-the-heart-but-don't-bleed theory doesn't really apply to what happened to Mr. Wone.

The the judge piled on. I just want to take a moment to note how smart Hon. Judge Liebovitz is. Wow. She's got to keep all this stuff in her head and keep the trial running. When one side or the other makes a motion, she immediately recalls the motions they made earlier in the trial. It's really impressive. Today's performance doubles that.

The judge asked a few questions that should have been asked by the prosecutors. "Have you ever testified as an expert witness before?" she asked. "No," Dr. Najan replied. More questions along this line, all answered no.

Then the judge asks if Dr. Najan has an opinion as to which wound was inflicted first. "No," said Dr. Najan. This is critical because all of the defense's testimony has been about how a person stabbed through the heart would lose consciousness almost immediately. No testimony has been given about if the other wounds happened first and if that would lead to sudden loss of consciousness. And no testimony about why those wounds would not cause external bleeding.

Dr. Najan further testified that if the the abdominal wound was first, he had no opinion as to the quantity of blood.

On cross, Dr. Najan testified that if someone were stabbed in the heart like Mr. Wone, he could pass out instantly, like in a snap of the fingers. The prosecutor even snapped his fingers for effect, and Dr. Najan agreed that a person could lose consciousness that quickly. After further questioning, Dr. Najan testified that an adult heart pumps out 50-60 cc's of blood per beat. Counsel reminded the witness that he said that it took 250cc's of blood in the pericardial for that to happen. "Wouldn't that take longer than a few seconds?"

Tracy Weaver was called to the stand again and was not allowed to testify about her observation that there was so little blood on Mr. Wone when she loaded him into the ambulance.

Today was a lot of technical information, a little rough to follow. I may have some spelling for the medical terms wrong. Oh, well. Got started late because of a dinner guest.

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