Gorbey, Two Relatives Testify at Trial

Posted May 13, 2008 at 1:56pm

In the months before Michael Gorbey allegedly came to Capitol Hill with a shotgun in hand, he was living in his truck and a tent in a national park in Virginia.

The day before he was arrested, Gorbey ran out of money and left the park with his girlfriend and two sons, ages 4 and 8.

“It was six to eight inches of snow,” he testified Tuesday at his trial, where he is representing himself. “We were about out of heating fuel and we were plum out of money.”

Gorbey’s assisting counsel, public defender Eugene Ohm, questioned Gorbey when he testified. And that raised some awkward issues: D.C. Superior Court Judge Gregory Jackson had to absolve Ohm of any responsibility for the type of questions asked because they had been written by Gorbey.

Several details about Gorbey’s personal life came out Tuesday during his testimony and the testimony of his sister and cousin.

Evelyn Hooper and Ray Dodson seemed nervous as they took the witness stand on Gorbey’s behalf. Hooper could barely be heard. They also weren’t able to say much — the prosecution objected to almost all of Gorbey’s questions, and Jackson agreed in most cases.

Gorbey’s questions appeared to focus on his belief that the government was not only conspiring against him, but had also threatened his friends and family. He hinted — before being silenced by Jackson — that he was living in the woods because of the government’s attempts to hurt or even kill him.

“Normally, I make pretty good money and stuff. I’m able to support my family pretty good,” Gorbey said. “We were forced to receive public assistance, food stamps, welfare.”

Gorbey, who was arrested Jan. 18, faces 14 charges, including one for attempting to manufacture a weapon of mass destruction.

It’s the first time someone has been charged with that since the D.C. law was created in 2002, said Channing Phillips, the spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington.

In recent days, Capitol Police witnesses have shed some doubt on whether the device found in Gorbey’s truck qualified as a bomb because it may have lacked a fuse.

In the third week of trial, Jackson, prosecutors and even jurors seemed frustrated with the pace.

Jackson questioned one juror about comments he made to the judge’s clerk about the length and repetitiveness of the trial. Ultimately, however, the juror was allowed to stay.

Today is expected to be the last day of trial. Tuesday was rocky at best: Jackson spent half the day arguing with Gorbey over his line of questioning.

“Mr. Gorbey. You look at me, Mr. Gorbey,” Jackson said at one point when the jury was not in the room. “I’m very serious about this. I’m not going to turn this into a trial, an expose” on the conspiracy allegations.

Gorbey’s testimony focused on his claim that he came to Capitol Hill on Jan. 18 with a friend. That friend drove the truck, while Gorbey slept most of the way, Gorbey said.

They separated right before he was arrested.

As for the loaded shotgun, sword, rounds of ammunition and flak vest found on him — Gorbey denied it all.

“I brought a backpack full of legal documents, a walking stick, a cell phone, a set of keys other than the keys [the friend] was using,” he said. The plan was for the friend to drive Gorbey’s Chevy pickup back home if Gorbey got arrested.

“Generally, when I go where there’s courts, they arrest me,” Gorbey said, to prosecutors’ objections.

It wasn’t until after the jury had left and the day’s testimony was over that Gorbey revealed the friend’s name: Gad Cap.

“Gad Cap? It might be real name, but let’s be honest,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney John Cummings, “it’s one step away from John Smith.”

Gorbey gave vague instructions to Cap’s home so the U.S. attorney’s office could track him down Tuesday night. But it was clear that Cummings and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff were skeptical of the validity of those directions.