Colbert Found Guilty of Lesser Charge of Manslaughter

Jurors found Ellsworth Colbert guilty of manslaughter today in connection with the stabbing death of Robert Leroy Wright.

Colbert was charged with first-degree murder; manslaughter is a lesser charge. The jury also found Colbert guilty of two weapons charges.

Jurors deliberated for a day and a half before announcing their verdict at about 11 a.m. Friday.

“Juries do interesting things,” defense attorney James Beane Jr. said outside the courtroom after the verdict was read.

At trial, Beane argued that Colbert engaged in a struggle for his life after Wright grabbed a shovel from the side of a house in the Penn Branch neighborhood of Southeast D.C. and struck Colbert in the right side of his head.

“Mr. Colbert defended himself against a violent drunk and he survived,” Beane said.

Prosecutors argued that the stabbing was not in self-defense.

“He went up to an unarmed man, whom had walked a dog in his yard, and he stabbed him in the neck,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Feitel said during closing arguments.

A witness testified at trial that Colbert approached him and Wright outside Colbert’s home after seeing them walk a dog through his yard. Colbert threatened to kill the dog and pulled a knife from his waistband, the witness said.

Another witness testified that Colbert complained to him that Wright was irresponsible for letting the dog defecate in Colbert’s yard. But Wright made a comment about Colbert’s family, and then Colbert lunged and cut Wright on the neck.

Wright then retrieved a shovel from the side of the house and fought Colbert in the street, according to the witness. The fight resulted in Wright’s death.

In a pre-trial hearing a few weeks ago, Feitel said that the Colbert case was the fastest he has seen a homicide case go to trial. From the date Colbert was arrested and the start of the trial, only 10 months had passed.

Colbert is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Herbert Dixon March 18.

blog comments powered by Disqus