The murder trial of a Maryland man charged with killing a wealthy family and their housekeeper opened Tuesday with a shocking twist: the accused’s brothers, not the accused, committed the crime, the man’s lawyer said.
Daron Wint is charged in a 20-count federal indictment with killing four people, including a 10-year-old boy he allegedly stabbed with a Samurai sword, but his lawyer, Jeffrey Stein, told the jury during opening arguments that Wint was set up by his brothers, according to the Washington Post.
Daron Wint and half-brother Steffon “deceived him, abandoned him and left him to take the fall,” Stein said.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Bruckmann put the blame solely on the 36-year-old Wint.
“This is what nightmares are made of. A family and their housekeeper, kidnapped in their own home, held overnight for a ransom and then killed by this man, Daron Wint,” Bruckmann said, the Post reported.
Wint, Bruckman explained, once worked for a business owned by the family, and took the victims hostage sometime late in the afternoon of May 13, 2015. Wint demanded a ransom, and $40,000 was delivered, but he killed them anyway.
Wint used a baseball bat, a knife, a Samurai sword and gasoline to beat, stab and burn his hostages to death, before fleeing in the family’s Porsche with the money, Bruckman said.
The killings were uncovered when firefighters responded to the fire and found the bodies of Savvas Savopoulos, 46; his wife, Amy Savopoulos, 47; their son, Philip, 10; and the family’s housekeeper, Veralicia Figueroa, 57, according to the arrest warrant filed against Wint, obtained by Oxygen.com.
The District of Columbia’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that Amy Savopoulos, her husband Savvas and Figueroa, the family’s housekeeper, were stabbed and beaten to death, while 10-year-old Philip was impaled with the sword, and burned to death.
Police were lead to Wint by DNA recovered from a partially-eaten Domino's pizza found in the family’s multi-million dollar mansion that Amy Savopoulos ordered the night of the 13th, according to the warrant.
The order came with special instructions the pizza be left on the front porch, police said.
In their opening statement to the jury Tuesday the prosecution highlighted the DNA evidence against Wint: “In this case, DNA will speak for the dead.”
But Stein, Wint’s defense attorney, told the jury that Wint was lured by his brothers to the house. He said Wint ate pizza they provided downstairs, with no knowledge that they were holding people hostage upstairs.
Stein also said witnesses will testify that Darrell Wint gave them cash from the ransom.
Once his DNA was identified, Daron Wint was captured after a two-day manhunt by a federal fugitive task force, with $10,000 in money orders, according to court records.
Riding in a truck that police said was traveling in tandem with the car carrying Daron Wint was one of Wint's brothers, along with $7,000 in $100 bills and $13,000 in money orders.
The trial continued on Wednesday and is expected to continue well into next week.
[Photo: Oswego County Sheriff]