It was the start of a horrifying ordeal inside the Savopoulos home that lasted through the night and into the next day. By the end, Amy, 47, and her husband, Savvas Savopoulos, 46, were dead, along with Philip and Figueroa. They had been tortured, prosecutors said, beaten, stabbed and set on fire.
In court Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura R. Bach told jurors that one man, overcoming his victims using surprise and threats against the others, carried out the crimes alone. Bach said Daron Wint did it for $40,000 in ransom he ordered Savvas Savopoulos to have delivered to the house.
“It’s time to hold Daron Wint accountable, not anybody else. He turned 3201 Woodland Drive into a graveyard,” Bach said.
“Hold him accountable for a 10-year-old who never got a chance to live his life. Hold him accountable for parents who couldn’t save their little boy,” she said, her voice quivering with emotion.
The prosecutor’s account came during closing arguments of a trial that has stretched over six weeks in D.C. Superior Court. Wint, 37, a former worker at a Savopoulos family business, is charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder, kidnapping and arson in the May 14, 2015, incident.
Prosecutors say DNA found on a knife and pizza crust in the home point to Wint as the killer. They also say he was flush with cash after the crimes, going to New York and taking his fiancee on a shopping spree with wads of $100 bills, the same denomination as the cash delivered as ransom.
But Wint’s public defenders maintain their client had no involvement in the killings and was set up by his brother Steffon Wint and half brother Darrell Wint to take the blame.
“This is the case in which nightmares are made of,” Daron Wint’s public defender Judith Pipe told jurors. “But Daron Wint is not the monster who brought about this nightmare.”
Pipe told jurors they should question the prosecution’s account because there was “no way one person could do this, and that’s reason to doubt the government’s theory.”
Bach, though, told jurors that even if they did not believe Wint could have committed the crimes by himself, they could still find him guilty of murder if they conclude he participated. “Even if you think someone else was involved, he is just as guilty,” she said.
Bach also reminded the jury that on the first day of the trial, Wint’s attorneys argued that it was Wint’s brothers and Savvas Savopoulos’s assistant Jordan Wallace who together orchestrated the crime. Yet later in the trial, Bach said Wint’s attorneys backed away from presenting Wallace as a co-conspirator.
Still, the prosecutor admitted there were several questions or “holes” in the government’s case that she said may never be answered, including why Wint ordered pizzas, how Wint entered the home and whether Wint had any help in committing the crimes. Bach argued it didn’t matter that the prosecution could not explain everything.
Pipe argued those questions were enough for jurors to find reasonable doubt in the government’s case.
In her closing, Pipe said Wint’s brothers “duped” Daron Wint into coming to the house and tried to frame him for the killings.
Defense attorneys said Wint’s two brothers communicated often by phone but did not call or text each other around the time of the crimes — evidence that the attorneys say suggests they were together. Attorneys also argued that it was Steffon’s hair that was found in the bedding in one of the rooms where the adult victims were found.
Wint’s brothers and Wallace each took the stand and denied having anything to do with the killings. Neither brother nor Wallace was charged after prosecutors said authorities investigated their alibis and determined the men were not connected to the crimes.
During the trial, Daron Wint took the witness stand and calmly told the jury that Darrell Wint had lured him to the Savopoulos house with the promise of a part-time painting and drywalling job.
He testified that when he got to the house, Darrell Wint tried to get him to participate in a burglary. He said he left the house, never knowing there were any victims inside.
He offered an explanation of how his DNA came to be found on pizza at the house, saying that his brother had given him the pizza because he was hungry. He also testified that Darrell Wint gave him $6,000 after the slayings.
During his testimony, Daron Wint never mentioned Wallace or Steffon Wint as being part of the burglary plan or being at the Savopoulos home.
Pipe argued prosecutors presented only evidence and witnesses that “fit their theory” of the case and willfully ignored other witnesses who offered information that pointed away from Wint. Pipe mentioned one person whom the defense called to the stand who saw a petite man with short hair who raced a Porsche stolen from the Savopoulos home down New York Avenue into Maryland minutes after the house was set on fire. Wint wears his hair in dreadlocks.
Another witness, a housekeeper who worked in the Savopoulos neighborhood, also testified about seeing a man with short hair around the neighborhood on May 12, the day before the victims were kidnapped.
Pipe also reminded a jury that an agent from the District’s Department of Forensic Sciences testified that items were collected from Wint’s father’s home after the killings. Pipe said contamination at the lab explained how Wint’s DNA was found on a knife collected that same day at the crime scene.
Closing arguments will continue Tuesday, and the case will then go to the jury. Prosecutors have said that if Wint is convicted, they will seek a prison sentence of life without parole.