A DC attorney whose father is suspected of murder may be allowed to try the case in front of a jury early next year.
Ellsworth Colbert‘s son, Damon Colbert, has signed on to his father’s case as co-counsel. Prosecutors oppose Damon Colbert’s representation. On Friday Judge Thomas Motley appeared skeptical of the effort as well.
Ellsworth Colbert is accused of stabbing Robert Wright in March. At a preliminary hearing that same month, MPD Detective Kenniss Weeks testified that investigators believe Wright and Colbert began fighting when Wright’s pitbull may have strayed into Colbert’s yard.
Weeks said that according to witnesses, Colbert, brandishing a walking stick and a knife, began arguing with Wright and punched Wright in the back of his head. Wright grabbed a shovel and used it to strike Colbert. The two continued to fight, then separated and Wright fell to the ground. An initial autopsy showed that Wright had been stabbed several times, including once in the right side of his chest, perforating his aorta.
Colbert was indicted in October on charges of first-degree murder, assault and carrying a dangerous weapon. He pled innocent.
His son, Damon Colbert, is an attorney for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and has signed on as co-counsel, with attorney James Beane, to Ellsworth Colbert’s case. According to the DC Bar, Colbert was admitted to the Bar in 2002.
Motley appeared skeptical Friday of Damon Colbert’s ability to represent his father because Damon Colbert had testified about the case in front of a grand jury.
“You cannot represent someone when you’re going to be a witness, and there’s no question that you’re going to be called,” Motley said. “It could put your case in unfavorable light if the jury sees you as counsel and then sees you on the witness stand.”
Damon Colbert said he did not believe that he would be called as a witness at trial.
Prosecutors said Friday that Damon Colbert would be called to testify at trial. The government has filed a motion to disqualify Damon Colbert from working on the case.
Though Damon Colbert has never represented a murder defendant before, he pleaded with the court to allow him to represent his father as “strategic counsel.”
“I don’t know how it’s going to work, but this is my father here,” Colbert said.
Motley will hear arguments on the motion Dec. 18. The trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 7, 2013.