Day 4: 'Holy crap:' The man who delivered the $40,000 testifies
Jurors in the murder trial of the man accused of killing a D.C. businessman, along with his wife, son and housekeeper, heard key testimony from the businessman's assistant, who prosecutors say unknowingly dropped off $40,000 in ransom at the time the family was being held hostage inside.
Jordan Wallace, 31, told jurors nothing seemed out of the ordinary when he texted with his boss, 46-year-old Savvas Savopoulos, on May 13 about delivering a package and again on May 14 when he left the bundle of cash inside a car in the Savopoulos garage.
(This is a recap from the first half of Wallace's testimony Monday. At the time of this writing, Wallace was back on the witness stand and being questioned by the defense. We'll recap the second half of his testimony later today.)
During his time on the stand, Wallace told jurors he didn't know and had never met 37-year-old Daron Wint, the man who's charged with first-degree murder in the killings of Savvas Savopoulos; his wife, Amy; 10-year-old son, Philip; and Vera Figueroa, one of the family's housekeepers.
Prosecutors say Wint, a former employee of Savopoulos' ironworks company, took the family hostage for $40,000 ransom and then killed them and set the house on fire.
Wallace said he was working alongside Savvas Savopoulos at the businessman's soon-to-open karate studio in Chantilly, Virginia, on May 13 and left for the day about 5 p.m. He was supposed to report the next day at the karate studio to get it ready for the grand opening, set for May 15.
At some point on the evening of May 13, however, Wallace said he got a voicemail from his boss, telling him there had been a change of plans and that he needed him to report to the American Iron Works office in Hyattsville, Maryland, the next morning to pick up a package. Wallace testified he didn't detect anything out of the ordinary in the voicemail, which was played in court. In the voicemail, Savopoulos sounds friendly and upbeat and even seems to make a joke about Wallace's outdated voicemail greeting.
Wallace said he also got a call from Savvas Savopoulos about 7 a.m. the next morning. Savopoulos reiterated what he had said in the voicemail the night before. Again, there was nothing strange about his voice, and Wallace said he didn't hear anything in the background.
When Wallace got to the office, he left with American Iron Works' chief financial officer Ted Chase (who testified last week, see below) to head to the bank. At the bank, Chase handed him the bundles of cash — $40,000 in all — and told him, "Guard this with your life."
Wallace told prosecutors his reaction was "Holy crap, never in my life" had he seen that much money. He placed the money in a black backpack, he said.
At 10:15 that morning, Wallace received a text from Savopoulos telling him to put the package of money in the driver's seat of a sports cars that was parked in the family's garage. He had told Wallace not to knock because he was on an important conference call.
Wallace told jurors he had a manila envelope, so he put the cash inside before leaving it in the garage, then sent a text to Savopoulos at 10:26 a.m., saying "pkg delivered."
Savopoulos never responded to the message. At first, three little dots appeared on the screen as if he had started composing a reply, but then they went away, Wallace said.