Witness ID Squabble in Washington Murder Case

     WASHINGTON (CN) – Prosecutors in the fatal hostage case of a wealthy northwest Washington family and their housekeeper urged a judge to keep their witness’s identity secret Friday.
     Daron Wint stands accused of felony murder while armed for the deaths of Savvas, Amy and Philip Savopoulos, and Veraltisa Figugroa, whose house was set ablaze this past May in an apparent hostage situation gone bad.
     Prosecutors say Wint held the family hostage while the patriarch’s personal driver delivered $40,000 in cash to the Savopoulos home. Savvas, his wife Amy and their housekeeper Figugroa died of blunt- and sharp-force trauma, while son Philip succumbed to “thermal and sharp force trauma injuries,” according to the affidavit.
     At a hearing in D.C. Superior Court today, Judge Rhonda Reid Winston considered a request by the defense for the government to turn over the name and contact information of a witness identified as W3 in the affidavit in support of Wint’s arrest.
     W3 told police about seeing a black man with “short, well groomed hair” driving a blue Porsche 911 erratically on New York Avenue in Washington shortly after the fire.
     Amy Savopoulos’ blue Porsche was not at the house when police arrived, and was later found burning behind a building in New Carrolton, Md., a short drive outside of Washington.
     Police found DNA matching Wint’s profile on pizza crust found in the family’s home and one a reflective vest in the Porsche, according to the affidavit.
     Public defender Arthur Ago told Judge Winston that the witness’s description of the person driving the car is not a match for Wint, who arrived at the courthouse Friday wearing his hair long and tied in the back.
     Attorneys for the government countered that the incongruent suspect description does not does not fall out of line with their theory of how the crime occurred, since it is possible more than one person was involved in the hostage taking and murder.
     The affidavit in support of Wint’s arrest says the crime likely “required the presence and assistance of more than one person.”
     Winston said she would hear arguments on whether the government should turn over the witness’s identity through written statements before Wint’s next status hearing, which is set for Dec. 17.
     She told Assistant U.S. Attorneys Laura Bach and Emily Miller that, just because the witness’s description was not out of line with their theory of the case, does not mean it is not in line with the case the defense planned on laying out.
     Winston found probable cause Wint committed the murders in a preliminary hearing in July.

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