CRIME

Ellsworth Colbert, campaign volunteer accused of killing neighbor, pleads not guilty

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A D.C. Council campaign volunteer pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder charges Monday, a day after police say he stabbed a neighbor to death, allegedly over dog droppings.

Ellsworth Colbert allegedly stabbed his next-door neighbor, 37-year-old Robert Wright, to death over dog feces. (Photo: WJLA)

Police allege Ellsworth Colbert, a volunteer on Kevin Chavous' Ward 7 D.C. Council campaign, fatally stabbed his next door neighbor, 37-year-old Robert Wright, and sources tell ABC7 that the argument started because Colbert thought Wright's dog defecated on his property

Colbert will be held without bond until a March 15 hearing. A lawyer representing him argued that Colbert had no intention of killing his neighbor.

In charging documents released Monday afternoon, police say that they responded to a home in the 3600 block of Highwood Drive SE at about 10:15 a.m. Sunday on reports of a stabbing. Upon arrival, first responders found 37-year-old Robert Wright lying in the front yard unresponsive with multiple stab wounds.

A witness told responding officers, the documents say, that just before the argument, Wright had been seen walking his dog near Colbert's home in the 3500 block of Pope Street SE.

The report goes on to say that witnesses told responding officers that Colbert and Wright allegedly got into a verbal argument, during which Colbert was holding an open-blade knife in his hand.

Both witnesses then told police that Colbert allegedly approached Wright, swung the knife at him and then tackled him. It was at that point police believe Wright was stabbed.

A man who asked not to be identified said the fight woke him up when he heard loud swearing. He looked and says he saw Colbert walking away after Wright had been stabbed.

"The one man crossed the street. The other guy is on the floor," the man said.

Meanwhile, sources tell ABC7 News that this isn't the first time Colbert has acted out. A few weeks ago, Colbert allegedly became unruly and disruptive with a former D.C. Council staffer, and ANC 7A chairman Villareal Johnson said he had to be escorted off the premises.

Court documents also show that Colbert has been charged with assault at least five times, and in 1997, he was fired from a job in the D.C. Department of Public Works after getting into a physical fight with his supervisor.

Wright’s mother told police that her son had just left to walk the dog and when he didn’t return she began to worry.

“They are all nice people so I was kind of confused when I came outside this morning I was like what's going on," said Bobby Chandler, a D.C. resident.

The neighborhood in which the stabbing occurred is "quiet," neighbors say.

Colbert is currently a volunteer on the campaign of Kevin Chavous, a candidate running for the Ward 7 council seat.

“That's a terrible way for somebody to die get stabbed over dog poop,”said Chavous said. “Just about everybody around here has a dog."

Chavous said that nothing ever gave him the indication that Colbert would do something like this.

Colbert has his supporters, including Clarence Brown, who says he has been Ellsworth's friend since 7th grade.

"It hurts my heart to see this go on," Brown said. "I feel he's totally innocent."

Officers positioned themselves in front of Colbert’s home throughout the day and combed the scene for clues and remnants of a violent fight.

“In Ward 7, we've lost a lot of young men to violence like this and it can't be tolerated," Chavous said. "It's unfortunate and both families are in my thoughts and prayers at this time."

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