WASHINGTON - On the seventh day of testimony in the Mansion Murders trial, prosecutors introduced a video of Amy Savopoulos' Porsche on fire to the jury.
The defense also started to attack some of the physical evidence collected from the Woodland Drive crime scene.
There was a brief moment of suspense and awe in the courtroom as a D.C. police evidence technician snapped on a pair of blue latex gloves then popped the red evidence tape on a tall rectangular box.
Ofc. Adrian Lancaster slid out a large samurai sword and held it up for the jury to see. The sword had a black braided leather wrapped handle and a long blade that curved nearly 3 feet to the tip. It appeared brownish, almost rusty.
Lancaster testified that it was recovered from a second-floor bathroom that connects to the bedroom where the body of 10-year-old Philip Savopoulos was found. A photo from the bathroom showed the sword resting on the toilet seat, its handle almost inside the toilet bowl.
Earlier in the trial, Det. Mike Pavero testified that he discovered the sword in a pile of debris, picked it up with a gloved hand and nearly cut himself.
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Other items of physical evidence introduced in the case now include pieces of burned clothing, a small plastic alarm sensor cover, a pair of eyeglasses, a Rolex watch, a water bottle found in the basement, several electronic key fobs and key rings with metal keys on them, bathroom towels and a white plastic cup.
From the third-floor utility closet where the security system computer was set up, police took a Dell monitor, power cords, a keyboard and mouse, plus a box cutter knife, a pen and a handwritten note.
No computer tower was there, but seven blue cables that had been cut were on the floor. Those were cataloged into evidence too.
Remember a red-wheeled bag that was spotted in video of the foyer that was shown during opening statements? Lancaster said that was processed as well, plus the contents, including a computer hard drive, an iPad with a light blue cover and two computer memory cards.
More duct tape was also found and one small piece was on a broken window outside, located behind the basketball hoop. Two more strips were in a T shape across a small doggie door that led from the kitchen to the basement.
Lancaster testified that he recovered latent fingerprints from an HVAC system door in the upper utility closet, from a column on the home's staircase, as well as from the red Mosler sports car in the garage. Lancaster does not analyze the prints.
Lancaster also said he swabbed several items for DNA evidence. In a bit of a twist, Lancaster said he was aware that some of his own DNA was on the swabs. This helps play into the defense's tactic to try to show that there may have been cross-contamination of evidence. Lancaster said that it is standard practice to wear gloves and sometimes a mask or Tyvek suit during evidence collection.
He said the Woodland Drive house was hot and starting to grow mold in the 10 days that technicians were there processing the scene.
The Savopoulos family had several guns, we learned. Four handguns were stashed in a file cabinet in the second-floor office along with ammunition and $13,000 cash.
In addition, police recovered unloaded "long guns and rifles" from the basement.
One knife, in particular, was the subject of much debate. It's a black-handled kitchen knife with 3 silver rivets. Jurors were shown a photograph of the knife propping open a basement window. The prosecution and defense went back and forth over what date the knife was photographed, collected and cataloged.
As for the burning Porsche, jurors heard from a volunteer firefighter with the West Lanham Hills Fire Department. Antwan Washington said he responded to the call for an auto fire on May 14, 2015, in the 8000 block of Annapolis Road. Washington said it was in the back parking lot of St. Christopher's Episcopal Church, and when he arrived there was no one with the car or any other cars around. He described it as "fully involved," and hard to extinguish.
In the video shown to the jury, the front end and passenger compartment of the Porsche was just a thicket of dark orange and black flames. Daron Wint watched the video too.
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