The man convicted of brutally killing four people, including a 10-year-old boy, in 2015 in a case that came to be known as the “mansion murders” will not get a new trial.
In a decision issued Thursday, the D.C. Court of Appeals upheld Daron Wint’s conviction, even though it ruled his defense attorneys should have been allowed to call an additional witness during his 2018 murder trial.
Still, the appeals court cited “overwhelming evidence” against Wint and therefore found no grounds for overturning his conviction.
Wint, 42, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release in the killings of Savvas and Amy Savopoulos; their 10-year-old son, Philip; and Veralicia Figueroa. All four were found beaten and stabbed to death in May 2015 inside the family’s Woodley Park home, which had been set on fire.
The victims were held for nearly 24 hours and extorted for $40,000 before being killed.
During his closely watched trial in the fall of 2018, Wint took the stand in his own defense and claimed his two younger brothers were the real culprits.
On the stand, Wint said his two younger brothers had tricked him into going to the Savopoulos’ lavish Northwest D.C. home and leaving his DNA behind, including on the crust of a half-eaten Domino’s pizza that had been delivered to the home while the victims were being held hostage.
The additional witness sought by Wint’s attorneys related to the testimony of one of his brothers, Darrell Wint. He testified during the rebuttal phase of the trial after the defense had rested its case, and prosecutors introduced evidence attempting to rebut allegations of his involvement. (The other brother testified earlier in the trial.)
Among the evidence prosecutors showed the jury: the testimony of a friend who told jurors Darrell Wint was at his house in Gaithersburg, Maryland, watching his friend’s original music video that was uploaded to YouTube on the same day the crime began unfolding, accompanied by a timestamp from the music-streaming platform.
Following the prosecution’s rebuttal case, Daron Wint’s attorney’s sought the trial court’s permission to call an additional witness during what would have been a “sur-rebuttal” phase of the case. The witness was a woman who lived at the same Gaithersburg house, who said Darrell Wint usually called or texted before he stopped by — and phone records indicated the only calls or texts between the two were several days after the killings.
D.C. Superior Court Judge Juliet McKenna blocked defense attorneys from calling the additional witness, saying the woman’s testimony was equivocal and that defense attorneys had the opportunity to call her in their own case and hadn’t done so.
In its decision Thursday, the appeals court said McKenna erred by not allowing the additional witness, saying the woman’s testimony “did squarely meet and call into question the government’s suggestion that Darrell was in Gaithersburg” on the day the victims were taken hostage.
“However, in light of the overwhelming weight of other evidence against appellant, there are no grounds for reversal,” the court ruled.
In addition to the pizza crust, Wint’s DNA was found on a construction vest inside Amy Savopoulos’ Porsche, which had also been set on fire, and on the handle of a knife found propping open a basement window. Two hairs matching Daron Wint’s were also found in bedding in one of the upstairs bedrooms, where the victims were restrained, and in a hard hat in the garage.
“In light of the strength of the combined evidence against appellant, we can say with fair assurance that the trial court’s error did not substantially influence the jury’s decision,” the appeals court said.
Daron Wint’s murder trial was the subject of the WTOP original podcast “22 Hours: An American Nightmare,” released in 2019.