After 5 weeks of gripping testimony, mansion killings case to go to jury
Oct. 17, 2018 — Day 18
In another surprise turn, the brother of the man on trial in the killings of four people inside a D.C. mansion in 2015 took the stand Wednesday, denying that he framed his brother for the killings or that he had any part in the crime as his brother's lawyers contend.
In gripping testimony, Darrell Wint laid out an alibi — partly corroborated by phone records, a pizza delivery receipt and a YouTube video timestamp — and said his brother, Daron Wint, “should be ashamed of himself for real” for trying to pin the killing on him.
Darrell Wint is the younger half-brother of Daron Wint, the lone suspect charged in the killings of Savvas, Amy and Philip Savopoulos and the family's housekeeper, Vera Figueroa.
In his testimony Wednesday during the prosecution's rebuttal phase of the trial, Darrell Wint laid out an accounting of his whereabouts during the time authorities have said the victims were taken captive and later killed.
Darrell Wint told jurors he had a job interview May 13 and then spent the day hanging out at a friend's house in Gaithersburg, Maryland, before picking up his son from school that afternoon.
On May 14, Darrell Wint said he took his younger children to the house of a friend in Silver Spring who also had young children. His alibi for that day is backed up by a receipt for a pizza that was delivered to his friend's house. The receipt shows his phone number and debit card were used to make a purchase from a Silver Spring Domino's at 12:16 p.m. on May 14 — just over an hour before firefighters responded to the burning Savopoulos house where the bodies of the victims were discovered inside.
The use of a pizza-delivery receipt to buttress Darrell Wint's alibi is an ironic twist in a case that began three years ago with evidence recovered from a pizza crust.
Daron Wint was arrested a week after the killings after authorities said his DNA was found on the crust of a pizza that had been delivered to the Savopoulos home while the victims were held captive.
In contrast to Daron Wint, whose phone went dark over the two days the victims were taken captive and later killed, prosecutors showed call records for Darrell Wint that showed a steady stream of incoming and outgoing calls on May 13 and May 14.
But Wint's defense team sought to raise questions about whether Darrell Wint was the one actually making the phone calls because, on the stand Wednesday, he was unable to identify all of the numbers.
Under pointed questioning by Judith Pipe, with the District Public Defender Service, Darrell Wint was fuzzy on many of the details surrounding his whereabouts over the two days of May 13 and 14. She pointed to all the gaps in his account of his whereabouts over those two days. For example, Darrell Wint said he can't remember if he stayed out late drinking at Silver Spring bars on the night of May 13.
Repeatedly, when asked to describe his whereabouts, his responses were punctuated with “maybe” and “probably.”
However, another witness called during the rebuttal phase of the trial backed up part of Darrell Wint's alibi. The friend who lived in Gaithersburg, Anthony Anderson, testified that Darrell did, in fact, stop by at some point on May 13. Anderson, who worked as a videographer, testified he remembers Darrell visiting because it was the same day a music video Anderson had been working was posted on YouTube. The video for “Haters Hate” was posted May 13, 2015, according to the time stamp on YouTube. Prosecutors entered a screenshot of the rap video into evidence.
Darrell Wint — who was previously convicted of possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, and of first-degree assault in Maryland — did not testify during the prosecution's initial case, and there was intense speculation about whether he would take the stand during the rebuttal phase. Darrell Wint has not been offered immunity in exchange for his testimony, according to prosecutors.
After an intense back and forth between prosecutors and the defense before the jury entered the room, the defense was given permission to question Darrell about the 2007 assault conviction that Pipe, the public defender, described as an attack on a man for “snitching” on one of Darrell Wint's friends.
On the stand, Darrell Wint admitted the conviction but said the man who was attacked had “blatantly lied.” The attack involved a knife, and Darrell Wint was initially charged with attempted murder, neither of which the jury heard during testimony.
Elsewhere in testimony, Darrell Wint told jurors he met up with his brother, Daron Wint, on the evening of May 14 — several hours after the fire at the Savopoulos house — to make a trip to Walmart. Darrell Wint was due to start a painting job the next day, and he needed to buy painter's pants and other supplies, he said.
Later that night, Darrell Wint said Daron Wint directed him to an industrial area off Kenilworth Avenue in Prince George's County because he said his van had run out of gas. Daron Wint carried a bucket full of gas off into the dark along with a bag, Darrell Wint told jurors. A few minutes later, Daron Wint returned — but without the bag, and when Darrell drove away, he said he saw smoke.
Darrell Wint testified the incident didn't sit right with him.
"It just seemed suspect to me," he said. Despite having plans to meet up the next day, Darrell Wint said that never happened.
"I didn't like the vibes that I caught the night before," Darrell Wint told jurors.
Prosecutors say Darrell Wint later took police to the spot where he drove his brother on May 14, where they found burned debris. The location is also near where Daron Wint's van was found set ablaze a few days later.
Daron Wint's team of public defenders also claims another younger brother — who shares a key DNA signature with Daron Wint — took part in the killings as well. Steffon Wint testified earlier in the trial, rebutting the allegations and providing time sheets showing he was working as a construction supervisor at the time.
Neither brother has ever been charged, and prosecutors have dismissed the defense's theory.
Closing arguments in the nearly six-week trial are expected Monday.
Defense aims to shift focus to brother of mansion killings defendant