Sept. 27, 2018 — Day 10
Chance DNA on knife isn't Wint's: 1 in 90 billion, expert says
But is the DNA really a slam dunk?
Prosecutors have already told jurors Daron Wint's DNA was found on a knife found propping open a basement window at the Savopoulos house. But a forensic biologist at ATF testifying for the first time Thursday provided more details about how exactly the DNA matches Wint and also revealed that DNA samples from multiple investigators inadvertently wound up on evidence.
Forensic biologist Emily Head said she was able to pull a partial DNA profile from the handle of the knife that matched Daron Wint. How sure is the science? There's only a 1 in 90 billion chance the DNA does not belong to Wint, she testified. (Note: There are only about 7.4 billion people on the planet).
There was no DNA detected on the blade itself. There were also no fingerprints found on the knife.
However, Wint's public defenders have also raised questions about how the forensic evidence was collected and later handled.
Head testified earlier this week that she recalled seeing another window in the basement propped open with a screwdriver. The screwdriver was, apparently never swabbed or collected for evidence.
It should also be noted that the knife, which investigators say yielded Wint's DNA, was photographed by crime scene investigators a day after the victims were found inside the burning D.C. mansion — but apparently not bagged and collected into evidence until May 20, was six days later.
Under questioning from the defense, Head revealed that while testing two towels taken from one of the upstairs bathrooms, she inadvertently transferred her DNA to them. She told jurors that talking, sneezing, sweating, coughing could all inadvertently transfer DNA that winds up in testing.
And in this case alone, DNA from three different investigators — two ATF analysts and a D.C. police officer — somehow wound up on evidence taken from the home.
The brother-in-law of the Maryland man charged with killing four people inside a D.C. mansion in May 2015 testified Daron Wint called him the day after the killings and sought his help setting his van on fire.
Derek “Godfrey” Ayling, 47, handed over to prosecutors Facebook call and chat logs detailing conversations he had with Wint around the time of the killings. During an 11:16 p.m. call on May 15, 2015 — one day after the bodies of three members of the Savopoulos family and their housekeeper were discovered inside their burning Woodley Park mansion — Ayling said Wint asked him for a favor.
“What kind of favor do you want me to do for you at 11 o'clock at night. I'm trying to go to bed,” Ayling testified he told Wint.
Wint said he needed help burning his blue Ford Windstar minivan. He said he had sideswiped another vehicle and he thought the police were looking for his van. He wanted Ayling to drive with him somewhere to set the van on fire, the brother-in-law testified.
“That's a layer too deep for me,” Ayling told jurors he told Wint. “I can't help you with that.”
Wint's van was found engulfed in flames in an industrial parking lot in Prince George's County shortly after midnight on May 16. Fire investigators testified earlier the van was intentionally set on fire. Photos of the burned-out van presented to the jury Tuesday showed the flames completely gutted the interior down to the springs.
Ayling's testimony came during the fourth week of Wint's first-degree murder trial in D.C. Superior Court. Prosecutors say Wint, 37, held the Savopoulous family captive, extorted $40 thousand from the businessman father, then killed the family and their housekeeper, set the house on fire, took the money and ran.