WASHINGTON - Two witnesses testified on Tuesday that they saw a man resembling Daron Wint ducking under the garage door of the house on Woodland Drive the day of the Mansion Murders.
They work at the Australian ambassador’s private residence. The home’s garage, rear terrace and lawn face 32nd Street, directly across from the driveway of the Savopoulos mansion.
Mark Geaghin is the gardener. He’s small and looks a little like the actor Michael Keaton with a slight five-o-clock shadow. He wore a coat and tie with his collar slightly open at the neck. Andrew Tierney is the residence manager. He’s tall with a chiseled chin and gray hair, cut tighter on the sides than the top. Tierney wore a light gray suit, silver shirt, and a gray and silver thin-striped tie. Geaghin and Tierney, in their Aussie accents, testified separately - but said basically the same thing.
Both noticed an African-American man, medium build and height, walking along the sidewalk toward the driveway. He had shoulder-length dreadlocks, wore a white T-shirt and dark jeans, possibly a skullcap, and had a string bag on his back. The witnesses said the man strode purposefully toward the right garage door, then the door seemed to open halfway for him. He crouched under, went inside and the door closed.
Geaghin also noted that after he saw news reports featuring a photograph of Daron Wint, he believed that photo resembled the man he spotted on May 14, 2015.
After the fire, Geaghin and Tierney reported what they’d seen to police and gave those descriptions. The residence does have security cameras, but at the time the system had cameras only facing in toward the Ambassador’s property.
Defense attorneys did not try to discount the description of the man - but they did ask if it appeared that someone might have been opening the garage door from inside for the man to duck under. Both said they did not see anything in the man’s hand and could not say how the door opened.
There was a wallpaper contractor driving up Woodland Drive. His name is Donald Spence, who was an older gentleman with a long gray goatee and slightly shaggy hair parted in the middle. He wore a short-sleeved yellow button-down shirt. Spence said he finished work nearby at 12:45 p.m., then pulled over on Woodland Drive, two blocks down to eat his lunch.
After he ate, he drove up the street toward 32nd and Woodland and noticed “the white steamy curve” of smoke along the upper edge of the roof. He said it was “a thin veil, like eyelashes.” Spence testified that he got out of his truck, rang the home’s doorbell and pounded on the door. He could hear a dog barking, but no one answered.
That’s when he called 911, telling the operator to come quickly because the fire alarm was going off and the house was “crackling.”
Much of the morning was spent shoring up the testimony that Jordan Wallace gave Monday. The defense attempted to damaged Wallace’s credibility by pointing out the times Wallace changed his statements to police, as well as that deleted text.
“I was afraid my boss would see them and he’d say, ‘you’re taking pictures of my stuff and you’re gone,’” Wallace testified. He also said he did not know what time he deleted the text he sent to his girlfriend.
Interrogation video was shown to the jury again. The room is small and gray, with a small gray square table in the right corner. There is an aluminum chair nestled up to the left side of the gray table and two dark-blue upholstered desk chairs with wheels on opposite sides of the room. Wallace was in the one to the left near the door. Detective Williams was in the blue chair on the right side of the room.
Wallace was wearing coral red pants, a blue and white plaid shirt and white sunglasses - the same outfit he was wearing in the Bank of America video and the video from Lowes’ in Chantilly at noon on Thursday, May 14, 2015.
At one point when Wallace was waiting for detectives to arrive, he was bent over with elbows on his knees and his hands on his head. He appeared shaken and anxious, his voice cracking as he spoke with Williams. At another point, Wallace was in the chair next to Williams as he was showing the detective his cellphone and giving him the passcode.
In one clip, Williams, a broad man with white hair wearing a blue blazer and khaki pants, is heard saying to Wallace, “It causes me a lot of concern that you would omit this.”
Williams was talking about a message from Savvas Savopoulos that Wallace had overlooked on his phone. “I genuinely didn’t mean… sir, I’m not trying to hide anything, I’m not,” Wallace replies. “I was comfortable showing it (his phone) to you because I didn’t.”
Prosecutor Laura Bach read a transcript of another exchange with Williams, where Williams told Wallace he did not believe the story about getting the cash at the bank.
“The f**ing bank is not going to give you $40,000 and let you walk out and say, ‘Hey, you’re a loyal customer - here… but that s**t in your f**ing bag and walk out,’” Williams said.
Bach noted for the jury that Wallace, after a four-and-a-half-hour interview, did correct his assertions about the car being unlocked, the money being placed by Wallace into a manila envelope and the date he first got a message from Savvas Savopoulos about the package delivery job.
“I’m sorry,” he is heard telling the detective. “It’s been a long day.”
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“Were you trying to get it wrong? Were you trying to lie to them?” asked Laura Bach.
“No,” Wallace said. He stated he was still worried about what had happened and didn’t know what was going on.
“I was scared, confused,” Wallace said. “It was a lot.”
Bach also questioned Wallace about his past marijuana use. Wallace asserted it was only in college, and that he never purchased marijuana from anyone named Wint.
Finally, Bach got to the direct question: “Did you conspire with Darrell Wint to rob or murder your boss’s family?”
“No,” Wallace answered.
“Did you conspire with Stefon Wint to rob or murder your boss’s family?” Bach questioned.
“No,” Wallace answered again.
“Did you have anything to do with these murders?” Bach continued.
“No,” Wallace stated.
Lt. Christopher Hershey with the DC Fire and EMS testified that he was the first firefighter to enter the home and found a body in a bed covered with a tarp, which was a description supported by a photo shown to the jury.
Three firefighters gave gruesome testimony about finding the bodies of all four victims on the second floor of the house. The jury was also shown a photograph of a bloody baseball bat that was sitting on a bed next to an evidence marker.
The trial will resume Thursday as the court observes the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur on Wednesday.