Suspect in DC mansion slayings fires his defense attorneys

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A man accused in the slayings of a wealthy family and their housekeeper inside a Washington mansion fired his defense attorneys on Thursday and will once again be represented by public defenders.

Daron Wint, 34, made the decision at the start of a scheduled preliminary hearing, which was then postponed.

Wint was arrested in May, a week after the slayings of corporate executive Savvas Savopoulos; his wife, Amy; their 10-year-old son, Philip; and a housekeeper, Veralicia Figueroa. According to police, he held the family captive for 18 hours inside their mansion in a wealthy northwest Washington neighborhood. After he received a $40,000 ransom, police said, Wint beat and stabbed the victims to death, set their house on fire and fled in a Porsche belonging to the family.

Defense attorney Sean Hanover said he and Wint "had a difference of opinion" that led Wint to dismiss him and a colleague who was handling immigration matters. He did not detail what the disagreement was about.

Hanover also said he believes there are multiple people who were involved in the slayings who are still at large, and he said he thinks Wint was "set up," although he did not elaborate. Police have said in court documents that they believe more than one person was involved in the elaborate crime, but no other suspects have been identified and no one else has been arrested.

"We have done a lot of investigation since we first got on this case," Hanover said. "We believe he was set up."

Hanover said Wint had expressed sorrow over the victims' deaths. One of the Savopouloses' daughters, 19-year-old Abigail, was in the courtroom on Thursday, watching stoically as Wint conferred with his attorneys and the judge. The daughter, who like her sister was away at boarding school at the time of the slayings, did not speak to reporters.

Wint "was heartbroken like everybody else," Hanover said. "I can assure you that he never intended or wanted anybody, them or anybody else, to be harmed."

Wint is a welder who once worked for Savopoulos, who was the CEO of American Iron Works, a Maryland-based construction-materials supplier. A native of Guyana, Wint has a criminal record that includes numerous complaints for domestic violence.

Wint is charged with first-degree murder and related offenses. His preliminary hearing will now be held on July 20.