Attorney in Jennifer Dulos case argues to toss evidence from Farmington home search, cellphone data

The defense is now asking a judge to suppress evidence, specifically items seized from a home Fotus Dulos had in Farmington and cellphone data that police obtained.

Marissa Alter

Aug 9, 2023, 10:24 AM

Updated 345 days ago


Michelle Troconis, the woman charged in connection with the May 2019 disappearance and death of Jennifer Dulos, was back in Stamford Superior Court Wednesday where her attorney argued to suppress some of the evidence against her.
Attorney Jon Schoenhorn told the judge the search of the Farmington home where Troconis lived with her then-boyfriend, Fotis Dulos, should be thrown out and anything found should be deemed inadmissible at trial because the search warrant lacked probable cause and was overly broad.
Police believe Jennifer Dulos was killed in her New Canaan home by her estranged husband, Fotis Dulos. Troconis is accused of conspiracy to commit murder, evidence tampering and hindering prosecution. Schoenhorn argued the warrant to search 4 Jefferson Crossing in Farmington never said how the home was linked to the crime.
“If they're claiming she disappeared from New Canaan, and there's no suggestion she traveled to Hartford, under what possible theory under this warrant affidavit is there a suggestion that she was up at the house?” Schoenhorn asked theoretically.
Assistant State's Attorney Sean McGuiness countered that Fotis Dulos and Jennifer Dulos were in the middle of an acrimonious divorce, and he’d been uncooperative in the investigation to find her. McGuiness also said the Fotis Dulos’ home was relevant after he was seen on surveillance camera in nearby Hartford throwing out evidence linked to Jennifer Dulos, including bloody items.
“What the affidavit actually alleged was that one of the items that Mr. Dulos was caught on camera discarding appeared to be the small rug from Jennifer Dulos’ Suburban. That's the nexus,” McGuiness told the judge.
Schoenhorn further said the search warrant didn’t limit what police could and couldn’t seize. He said it listed general items rather than specific ones and allowed investigators to take anything from anyone in the home, not just Troconis and Fotis Dulos. That included Troconis’ 12-year-old daughter and Troconis’ mother who was visiting.
“This is the quintessential definition of a fishing expedition. In fact, I go further and suggest this is more like one of those giant commercial trawlers with the giant commercial nets that scoops up everything,” Schoenhorn stated.
He further added that the items in the warrant—including trash type bags, zip ties, blood, saliva, physiological fluids, genetic materials, hair fibers, fingerprints, palm print, shoe prints, footprints—were “a boiler plate list of things that you might use in a drug investigation, in any kind of investigation. But again, without specifying why these things would be material and relevant,” Schoenhorn said.
McGuiness disagreed with that assessment.
“When I hear the defense say there were no guardrails, that's belied by the face of the affidavit application and search warrant which specifically delineated certain items they were allowed to look for and specifically delineated how those items had to be connected to an assault,” McGuiness told the court. “The idea that the officers in executing this warrant may have seen things that weren't covered by the warrant, that that somehow makes it overbroad? If that's the test, I would suggest that every search warrant ever executed would be overbroad.”
McGuiness also said the defense has the burden of proof, not the state, and they had “fallen way short” of proving that the search warrant wasn’t valid.
Judge Kevin Randolph also heard arguments on the defense’s motion to suppress cellphone tower data that police obtained from several towns on May 23 and 24 of 2019. Schoenhorn again argued that the warrant was too broad and didn’t contain probable cause. Arguments on that will continue at another hearing. Randolph said written decisions will come down in September.
Those motions are just a couple of several filed by Schoenhorn that have to be heard before this case goes to trial. One of them requests the trial be moved from Stamford to the Hartford Judicial District due to pre-trial publicity. The judge will take that up at a hearing on Aug. 16. Schoenhorn was denied a similar request in 2021 when he claimed the case should be heard in Hartford because that's where the crimes Troconis is accused of committing occurred.
Troconis is one of two defendants remaining in the case after Fotis Dulos, the main suspect, died by suicide while out on bond in January 2020. She’s pleaded not guilty to all the charges she’s facing. Fotis Dulos’ friend and former attorney, Kent Mawhinney, is also charged with conspiracy to commit murder and has pleaded not guilty.

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