DC mansion killings: Daron Wint on trial
Follow WTOP's coverage of the trial as it happened.
Oct. 15, 2018 — Day 17
Defense aims to shift focus to brother of mansion killings defendantAs defense attorneys for Daron Wint, the Maryland man accused of killing three members of a D.C. family and their housekeeper in 2015 make their case this week, they've sought to shift the focus to his younger half-brother Darrell Wint, who they accuse carrying out the slayings — and who has not yet testified in the case.
Daron Wint is charged with killing Savvas Savopoulos; his wife, Amy; their 10-year-old son, Philip; and the family's housekeeper, Vera Figueroa, in May 2015 after taking them hostage and extorting $40,000 from the businessman father. The bodies of the four victims were later found inside the family's burning house.
Daron Wint had pleaded not guilty and his team of public defenders has sought to pin the blame on Darrell Wint and another younger brother, Steffon Wint.
In court Monday afternoon, Det. Darryl Richmond, with D.C. police, testified Darrell Wint initially told police he was working on May 13 and May 14 2015 — during the time the four victims were taken captive and later tortured and killed. Darrell Wint told police he was working at both PCM Services, a construction company, and Unity Disposal, a trash collection company.However, neither company had records of Darrell Wint working those days. The trash disposal company said Darrell was working May 12, but not May 13. PCM records indicate Darrell was hired to do a painting job but his orientation wasn't until May 15.
Also in court Monday, two of Darrell Wint's friend testified Darrell Wint never asked them to provide a fake alibi or cover for him but both said they couldn't account for his whereabouts over those two days or remember if they even saw him.
One of those friends, Garnette Williams, testified that Darrell Wint gave him cash to rent a hotel room in College Park, Maryland, that Daron Wint briefly stayed in before he was arrested a week after the killings. Williams who used his real name, identification and phone number to book the room, said he was upset with what Darrell Wint got him involved in, but he said his friend just kept saying: "It's my brother; it's my brother."It was revealed earlier during the trial that Darrell Wint had been working with police to turn his brother in, in the hours before Daron Wint's arrest by U.S. Marshals.Federal prosecutor Laura Bach also revealed last week that Darrell Wint had been cooperating with prosecutors — although he was not among the several dozen witnesses the government called to testify.
Regarding an alibi for Darrell Wint, prosecutors have already introduced cellphone location data for Darrell Wint's phone for May 13 and May 14 that they say show he wasn't anywhere near the Savopoulos house in Northwest D.C.In a surprising turn last week, Daron Wint himself took the stand, testifying he was at the house of a friend's house drinking in Southeast D.C. during the time the time authorities have said the Savopoulos family and their housekeeper were held hostage. He said Darrell Wint tricked him into going to the Woodland Drive mansion the next day on the promise of a painting job but that he left when he found his brother planned to burglarize the house.
Daron Wint's attorneys have also claimed his younger full brother, Steffon Wint, played a role in the killings, citing a hair found in bloody upstairs bedding that matches both Daron and Steffon Wint. (The kind of DNA extracted from hair evidence is shared between siblings with the same mother). Steffon Wint testified for the prosecution earlier in the trial, denying any role in the crime and providing timesheets from his job as a construction supervisor showing he was working at the time the four victims were held and killed.
Neither of Wint's younger brothers has ever been charged and prosecutor have rejected the defense's theory.
Oct. 16, 2018
About face? Prosecutors want jury to be able to consider possibility of additional suspects
As the murder trial of the man accused of killing three members of a D.C. family and their housekeeper in May 2015 winds down, prosecutors in the case want jurors to be able to consider the possibility of additional suspects even as they weight the fate of Daron Wint.The move, which came in a discussion before Judge Juliet McKenna regarding jury instructions, appears to be an about-face for prosecutors who have argued 37-year-old Wint acted alone.The instructions on aiding and abetting would advise jurors they can vote to convict Wint even if they think someone else was involved, according to reporter Meagan Fitzgerald, with WTOP's news partner NBC Washington. She was inside the courtroom as attorneys haggled over the jury instructions.Wint’s team of public defenders sought to keep aiding and abetting from the jury instructions, arguing prosecutors had never presented evidence anyone was involved, but the judge ruled they could be included.Daron Wint is the lone person to be charged in the killings of Savvas, Amy and Philip Savopoulos and Vera Figueroa. He has pleaded not guilty and his attorneys claim it was actually Daron Wint's younger half-brother, Darrell Wint, and Wint's younger full brother, Steffon Wint, who carried out the killings.Prosecutors have dismissed the defense's theory. Steffon Wint testified earlier during the trial, denying any role in the crime and providing time sheets showing he was working as a construction supervisor at the time the four victims were taken captive inside the Savopoulos family's Woodley Park mansion in May 2015. Darrell Wint has been cooperating with prosecutors, Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Bach revealed this week, but it's unclear if he will be called to testify in the prosecution's rebuttal phase later this week.The defense is scheduled to wrap up its case Wednesday; closing statements are set for Monday.
Oct. 17, 2018 — Day 18
Brother of mansion killings defendant testifies; pizza receipt, YouTube video key to alibi
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.
Oct. 18, 2018 — Day 19
After 5 weeks of gripping testimony, mansion killings case to go to juryThe prosecution has rested its case against Daron Wint, the man charged with killing three members of a D.C. family and their housekeeper in 2015.
After five weeks of testimony, including several gripping hours in which Daron Wint took the witness stand himself, attorneys are preparing to turn the case over to jurors to decide Wint's fate.
On the last day of the rebuttal phase of the trial, prosecutors called witnesses to contradict the timeline Daron Wint laid out, accounting for his whereabouts on May 13 and May 14, 2015, during the time Savvas, Amy, Philip Savopoulos and Vera Figueroa were taken captive and killed.Daron Wint, who has pleaded not guilty, claims it was actually his two younger brothers who planned and carried out the killings. He testified last week that Darrell Wint lured him to the Savopoulos house in May 2015 on the false promise of a painting job but that he — Daron Wint — left after he learned his brother planned to burglarize the residence.But in a surprise turn, Darrell Wint took the stand earlier this week, rebutting his brother's testimony and denying any part in the crime or ever being near the Savopoulos house. On Thursday, Darrell Wint's alibi was backed up by cellphone location records, which showed his phone was in Montgomery County, Maryland, for most of the day May 13 and 14 — during the time the four victims were held captive.For example, Darrell Wint testified he went to the house of a friend in Gaithersburg that morning and watched a music video his friend had produced. The cell location shows his phone was in Gaithersburg at about 10:24 a.m. on May 13.He also testified that he might have stayed out late drinking at a bar on the night of May 13 into the early morning hours of May 14. The cellphone location data showed his phone pinging shortly after 5 a.m. near the Odalis bar in Silver Spring.However, the defense has sought to raise questions about whether Darrell Wint was actually carrying his phone or whether he handed it over to a friend. Defense attorneys argued strenuously Thursday that they should be allowed to put another witness on the stand to further raise questions about Darrell's whereabouts, but the judge denied the request.Closing arguments Monday; jury to consider 20 countsClosing arguments in the case are set for Monday.Overall, the jury will consider 20 counts against Daron Wint, including first-degree premeditated felony murder while armed in the deaths of each of the four victims. The counts also include aggravating circumstances in the death of 10-year-old Philip Savopoulos because he was especially vulnerable because of his age. In addition, Wint faces four counts of kidnapping, one count of extortion, one count of arson and one count of theft.Prosecutors allege the motive for the killings was greed. Prosecutors say Daron Wint forced Savvas Savopoulos to withdraw $40,000 from his business' bank account and to have it delivered to the house while the victims were being held captive inside. When Daron Wint was arrested, police recovered a wad of cash amounting to several thousand dollars and several thousand more in money orders.Daron Wint worked for Savvas Savopoulos' ironworks company for a few years a decade before the killings.Daron Wint was initially linked to the killings after forensic experts said his DNA was found on a crust of pizza that had been delivered to the Savopoulos house at the time the victims were held hostage. Prosecutors said Daron Wint's DNA was also found on a knife propping open a basement window, and two hairs found inside the home — including one in the bedding of a bloodstained upstairs bedroom — were also a match to Daron Wint.The defense sought to raise questions about how the DNA evidence was collected and processed and noted the two hairs found inside the house share the same DNA signature with Daron Wint's other younger brother, Steffon Wint.The defense first argued that Daron Wint's two younger brothers are responsible for the killings during opening arguments in the case last month. Neither brother has ever been charged and prosecutors, who reject the defense's theory, say both of Daron Wint's younger brothers have cooperated with the government.
As jury prepares to take case: What we still don't know about horrific crime at Woodland DriveAs the attorneys in Daron Wint's murder trial prepare to give closing arguments before the jury, we're reflecting on the facts we still don’t know about the horrific crime at Woodland Drive.We’ll start with when the crime happened. During their case, prosecutors laid out a general timeline of when the three members of the Savopoulous family and their housekeeper were taken captive and killed.A neighbor testified she spotted Amy Savopoulos, 47, out for a walk near a Starbucks at about 3:30 p.m. on May 13. Back at the Savopoulos house on Woodland Drive her 10-year-old son, Philip Savopoulos, is home sick from school recovering from a concussion. Veralicia Figueroa, 57, one of the family's housekeepers, is also inside the house. It's when Amy Savopoulos was out for her walk that phone lines at the house are likely cut and Daron Wint walks in, according to prosecutors.But there's something odd about the neighbor's testimony. She said Amy was wearing a dressy skirt with a light-colored sweater over her shoulders and looked nice. Why is that strange? Amy Savopoulos was captured on surveillance video at a doctor's office with her son earlier that morning wearing a different outfit. And it was that earlier outfit — a dark tank top and white pants — that Amy Savopoulos' (no body) was found wearing when authorities responded to the burning Savopoulos house the next day. Given the prosecutions timeline, she wouldn’t have time to change back into the tank top and white jeans if she was taken hostage when she arrived home.We don’t know how the family and Figueroa were taken hostage — if it was one-by-one or otherwise — which would shed light on how many suspects it would take to wrangle four people. More broadly, we still don't know if the crime was the work of just a single attacker. From the beginning, DC police have said they believed the elaborate crime could not have been carried out by a single person. But Daron Wint remains the only person charged and the prosecution has dismissed the defense's contention that it was actually his two younger brothers who carried out the killings.Among the pieces of evidence that complicate the prosecution timeline:Two workers at the residence of the Australian ambassador — across the street from the Savopoulos house — testified they saw an African-American man with dreadlocks approach the house's garage and duck inside at around noon on May 14. This would have been some 18 hours after the family was first taken hostage. Why would Daron Wint be seen entering the house at that time?While the victims were held captive, members of the family made a number of phone calls. One of those calls — The last phone call, according to prosecutors’ timeline — was made by Amy to a lawn sprinkler maintenance company to cancel a planned appointment that day. "She was very nervous," the sprinkler business owner testified. "She said she had to leave the house. She said her son got injured ... she had to go to the hospital and she had to cancel the appointment."Amy’s call was made at 1:12 p.m. on May 14 — just 12 minutes before firefighters received the first report of smoke at the Savopoulos house and rushed to the scene. Were the victims — or at least Amy Savopoulos — alive that close to the time firefighters arrived at the scene? It appeared rigor mortis — which usually sets in at least two hours after death — had set in for some of the victims by the time firefighters arrived on the scene. But a medical examiner testified that extreme heat can speed up the process. Given the amount of evidence compromised by the fire, the medical examiner testified she couldn’t provide an exact time of death for any of the victims.We know given their injuries that the adults were tortured but because so much evidence was destroyed in the fire — including the injuries to their bodies, that’s information the medical examiner says we'll never know. Philip’s body was so badly burned she said there is no way to tell if he died before or after the fire was set on the mattress where he was laying.The biggest thing we still don't know? Why.Daron Wint worked for Savvas Savopoulos' ironworks company for a few years a decade before the killings.During opening arguments, prosecutors laid out what they believe is the motive in the case: "Money, greed and ransom." They pointed to the $40,000 that was extorted from Savvas Savopoulos and delivered to the family's house while the victims were held captive.But the killings were so brutal, so horrific, it's hard to think someone would do that for $40,000.The defense says Wint had no reason to have that anger and vendetta against a family that by all accounts — he didn't knowWe'll soon learn whether the jury thinks Wint is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Oct. 22, 2018 — Day 20
Emotional closing arguments: Wint turned family's house 'into a graveyard,' prosecutor says
In emotionally charged closing arguments, a federal prosecutor in the first-degree felony murder trial of the Maryland man charged with killing three members of a D.C. family and their housekeeper told jurors it was time to hold Daron Wint accountable for turning the family's Woodley Park mansion “into a graveyard.”Daron Wint is the lone defendant on trial in the killing of Savvas and Amy Savopoulos; their 10-year-old son; and Vera Figueroa, the family's housekeeper in May 2015. The victims were beaten and stabbed after $40,000 was extorted from the businessman father. The family's house was later set ablaze.Prosecutor: Wint took victims captive 1 by 1In closing arguments that lasted several hours Monday morning and afternoon, Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Bach said greed drove Wint to kill — and that all the evidence pointed to him as the sole assailant.“Daron Wint wanted things that he couldn't have. And keep in mind that he had been backed into a corner at this point,” Bach said, relating that Wint, who had recently been kicked out of his brother's house, didn't have a place to stay and was facing the prospect of sleeping in his minivan. “He decided he was going to take from the Savopoulos family, she said.As the trial in D.C. Superior Court enters its seventh week, Bach wove together reams of evidence and testimony — from call records, crime scene photos and witness testimony — aiming to show Wint, alone, carried out the hostage-taking and killing.Wint's team of public defenders have argued since the start of the trial that it was actually Wint's two brothers, Darrell and Steffon Wint, who carried out the elaborate crime. The defense also sought to raise suspicions about Savvas Savopoulos' former assistant, Jordan Wallace, who dropped off the $40,000 ransom while the victims were being held inside the house.“Make no mistake that they have tried to blame three completely innocent men,” Bach told jurors.In her recounting of the crime, Bach laid out how Wint took the victims captive, essentially one by one, starting with Figueroa and 10-year-old Philip on the afternoon of May 13, 2015, while Amy Savopoulos was out on a Starbucks run. Savvas Savopoulos was called back to the house later that evening.“It's tough when you've got four people all at once,” Bach said. 'It's not so tough when you take them one at time."Prosecutors to jurors: Use common sense
Still, Bach acknowledged some gaps in prosecutors' timeline, telling jurors there were some elements of the crime — such as what door Wint used to get inside the house; in what order he killed the victims; and why his blue minivan was parked in downtown D.C. and later towed back to Maryland — that would likely remain unexplained.
For example, she said jurors could spend the next three years considering why Wint would have ordered the pizzas — dropped off on the front porch while the victims were held captive inside — and urged jurors to use common sense.
“Maybe this is done to reassure the family. Maybe he's just hungry. We don't know. You're not going to know.”
The important thing, she said, is that Wint's DNA is on the pizza crust.
“Common sense gets to come into the courtroom with you, folks,” she told jurors.
Accounting for brother's whereabouts
Bach spent much of her time in closing arguments seeking to discredit the defense's contention that Wint's two younger brothers — in particular Darrell Wint — had any part in the crimes.
During the time that the victims were taken captive and held overnight, location data for Darrell Wint's cellphone, based on cell tower “pings,” show it was nowhere near the Savopoulos house in Northwest D.C. “He's out in Montgomery County … He has nothing to do with this,” she said.
The week after the killings — after Daron Wint had been identified as a suspect in the killings and his photo was blasted across news broadcasts nationwide — Darrell Wint did help exchange part of the $40,000 into money orders ostensibly to obtain a lawyer for his brother.
Bach characterized Darrell Wint as having a “slightly shaded moral compass” and said “he should have known better,” but, in the end, she told jurors, Darrell Wint worked with police to turn in his brother.
The prosecution's closing argument ended with a grisly detailing of the injuries to the victim's bodies — accompanied by graphic autopsy photos — in an attempt to show jurors the killings were especially “atrocious, heinous cruel.”
Family members of the victims covered their eyes and stifled sobs as the photos were shown.
It's finally time for you all to hold the defendant accountable,” Bach said in closing, her voice rising in anger. “It's time for you all to hold Daron Wint — not anyone else — accountable for what he did.”
Oct. 22, 2018 — Day 20
Defense blasts 'cherry-picked' evidence; says prosecutors trying to 'mislead' jurors
The defense attorney for the man charged with killing three members of a D.C. family and their housekeeper accused federal prosecutors of “cherry-picking evidence” against Daron Wint and appealed to jurors to consider gaps in the government's case.In the defense's closing arguments Monday, Judith Pipe, with the District Public Defender Service sought to paint a sympathetic portrait of 37-year-old Wint, whom she described as “duped” by his two younger brothers and wrongfully accused by the government in the killings of Savvas and Amy Savopoulos; their 10-year-old son, Philip; and the family's housekeeper, Vera Figueroa, in May 2015.“Daron Wint is not the monster who brought about this nightmare,” public defender Judith Pipe said, describing the prosecution's case as consisting of “strategically selected pieces of the puzzle” designed to “mislead” jurors into thinking that Wint carried out the killing and acted alone.(The defense did not complete its closing arguments Monday; they are set to resume Tuesday)The defense has claimed Wint's two younger brothers — Darrell and Steffon Wint — are actually responsible for the killings and that authorities either failed to investigate them or is sitting on evidence that doesn't implicate Wint.“Every time that there was a piece of evidence that didn't make sense with their theory, they dismissed it,” Pipe said. “That's why there are so many gaps in this case.”Pipe said call records between Darrell and Steffon Wint in the days leading up to time the victims were taken captive inside the Savopoulos home show “coordination” between the two brothers and could be evidence the two were planning the crime. Handwritten time sheets provided by Steffon Wint showing he was working as a construction supervisor at the time of the killings could have been fudged and are “worthless” and “mean nothing” in terms of establishing an alibi.The prosecution, which called both younger brothers to testify against Wint, has dismissed the defense's theory. Neither of the two younger brothers has ever been charged in connection with the crime.Pipe also pointed to shifting details in Darrell Wint's accounting of his alibi for May 13 and May 14, 2015 — accusing him of faking a fuzzy memory. Even though cellphone location data show his phone was nowhere near the Savopoulos family's Northwest D.C. mansion during the time the victims were held and later killed, Pipe suggested he could have handed his phone off to a friend to cover for him.The defense attorney also sought to weaken some of the DNA evidence against Wint, suggesting, for example, that Daron Wint's DNA that was found on a knife found propping open a basement window at the Savopoulos house may have been the result of cross-contamination at the D.C. Department of Forensic Science's evidence-processing unit.Pipe started out her closing arguments with a civics lesson of sort, seeking to explain to the jury practical meaning of terms, such as “burden of proof” and “beyond a reasonable doubt.”“The government has done a lot of finger-pointing … at Daron Wint,” Pipe told jurors. “Burden of proof means you point your finger at the government and you say, 'Prove it.'”Jury deliberations are set to begin Tuesday.
Oct. 23, 2018 — Day 21Jury deliberations begin after combative close to six-week trialThe first-degree murder trial of a Maryland man charged with killing three members of a D.C. family and their housekeeper inside the family's home is now in the hands of the jury after impassioned closing arguments from Daron Wint's public defender and a defiant rebuttal by a federal prosecutor.
Judith Pipe, with the District Public Defender Service, claimed the prosecution relied on potentially contaminated DNA evidence, failed to properly investigate Wint's two younger brothers and intentionally misled the jury with cherry-picked evidence and incomplete testimony.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Bach called the defense's claims “flights of fancy,” saying all the evidence points to Wint as the lone assailant.
The jury is weighing 20 counts against Wint, who's accused of killing Savvas and Amy Savopoulos; their 10-year-old son, Philip; and the family's housekeeper Vera Figueroa. The victims were held in the Savopoulos' multimillion-dollar mansion for nearly 24 hours and $40,000 was extorted from Savvas Savopoulos, the CEO of an ironworks company. After the killings, the mansion was set ablaze.
Jurors are considering first-degree murder charges in the deaths of each of the victims as well as arson, burglary, extortion and theft charges.'You can't trust the government's evidence'
In her closing arguments, Pipe called into question the government's timeline for when the victims were taken captive. She said prosecutors tried to mislead the jury by putting on the stand an unreliable witness who testified she saw Amy Savopoulos walking in the neighborhood – perhaps on the way back from a trip to Starbucks – that afternoon.
Pipe called the move “sinister” and said it was designed to convince jurors that Wint could have carried out the crime, alone, by taking the victims hostage one by one.
“You can't trust the government's evidence,” Pipe said, continuing to push her claim that it was actually Wint's two younger brothers, Darrell and Steffon Wint, who carried out the killings.Contaminated DNA evidence?
Pipe also sought to raise questions about some of the DNA evidence linking Wint to the crime scene, saying the dozens of firefighters and law enforcement personnel responding to the burning mansion had likely contaminated evidence. In addition to DNA on the crust of a pizza that had been delivered to the Savopoulos home during the time the victims were held captive, forensics experts testified Wint's DNA was also found on the handle of a knife found propping open a window in the basement.
“The problem with the scene being contaminated is that people's DNA gets on items that they never touched,” Pipe said.
In fact, DNA from three different investigators wound up on items from the house.
Emily Head, a forensic biologist the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, revealed in her testimony during the trial that two bathroom towels she was swabbing for evidence tested positive for her DNA — the result she said of her lab coat brushing against the towel.“There was more DNA from Emily Head on that towel than from Daron Wint on that knife,” Pipe said.
The defense attorney also noted that the knife was not collected into evidence until nearly a week after the killings — after Wint was identified as a suspect in the killings based on the pizza-crust DNA — and was transferred to the Department of Forensic Science central evidence unit the same day police took clothing and personal items from Wint's father's house.
“Did Daron Wint's property brush up ever so slightly against the knife like Emily Head's sleeve?” Pipe asked the jury.Prosecutor blasts 'rank speculation'
In her rebuttal Bach, the federal prosecutor, said Wint's attorneys were asking jurors to engage in “rank speculation” and that their claims are an attempt to distract jurors from the evidence, all of which points to Wint acting alone.
“There is not a single reason here to doubt the government's evidence,” she said.
Bach told jurors the U.S. Attorney's Office initially has suspicions about Darrell Wint's involvement. A week after the killings, Darrell Wint helped turn his brother into police but only after helping convert most of the $40,000 ransom into money orders to pay for a lawyer.
Darrell Wint was questioned by police that night and later by Bach's office.
“Were not morons,” Bach said. “There is a guy with his brother when the brother is arrested for murder. Yeah, we're going to look” into him. “ You think we're gonna (say), 'la-la-la, we're not looking at this?'”
But Bach said prosecutors were able to corroborate Darrell Wint's alibi at every turn using cellphone location, financial records and the testimony of other witnesses who vouched for his whereabouts.
Bach said there was no reason to suspect Steffon Wint of taking part in the crime. Company time sheets show he was working as a construction supervisor at the time of the killings. She said Steffon was only accused by the defense as a ploy to account for a hair found in bloody bedding in an upstairs room of the Savopoulos house.
The DNA signature profile of the hair could not be matched to Darrell Wint but it could be linked to Steffon Wint, since the type of DNA found in hair is shared by siblings with the same mother. Darrell Wint is Daron Wint's younger half-brother and has a different mother than Daron Wint.
“There's no evidence that these people did anything,” Bach said, later adding, “This isn't about Darrel Wint and Steffon Wint no matter how much he wants it to be.”
At times, Bach's tone was caustic. She blasted Daron Wint's account when he testified in his own defense as “laughable.”
“If there's anyone in this jury that believes what Daron Wint said on the stand, you can just go right ahead and acquit him right now.”