DNA evidence is focus in Day 5 of Michelle Troconis’ trial

The trial for Michelle Troconis in the disappearance and presumed death of Jennifer Dulos continued Thursday with DNA evidence. Kristen Madel, an analyst from the state forensic lab, took the stand about testing evidence investigators took from Jennifer Dulos' garage, the Range Rover in it and her abandoned Chevy Suburban.
Madel was the sole witness Thursday. She testified she developed a DNA profile for Jennifer Dulos using the missing mom's toothbrush, then compared it to blood-like stains swabbed by police.
“Were these results consistent with being a single female and the results being 100 billion times more likely to be the profile found on the toothbrush?" asked Assistant State’s Attorney Sean McGuinness.
Madel replied, “Yes.” It was her answer for a majority of the swabs she tested from Jennifer Dulos' home.
Troconis' attorney told the media that's not something he's challenging.
“In my mind, it clearly does show that something happened to Jennifer Dulos in that garage. I’m not disputing that. I’ve never disputed that. But what that is and how it happened and whatnot just remains to be seen,” attorney Jon Schoenhorn said outside the Stamford courthouse.
Connecticut State Police believe Jennifer Dulos was killed in her New Canaan home by her estranged husband, Fotis Dulos, on the morning of May 24, 2019. Fotis Dulos allegedly then disposed of the body. Jennifer Dulos has never been found but is presumed dead.
During Madel’s testimony, she said a male profile found on the doorknob from the garage to the mudroom was 300,000 times more likely to be from Fotis Dulos than an unknown person. She told the the jury a swab of the kitchen sink faucet also came back linked to him. That testimony came a day after Lauren Almeida, the nanny for the five Dulos children, told the jury Jennifer Dulos didn’t allow her estranged husband in the house.
On Thursday in court, Madel also noted Troconis's profile wasn't present in any of the samples from the garage, kitchen, or SUVs. Police have never said Troconis physically took part in what they believe was a deadly attack. She's accused of plotting with Fotis Dulos and helping her then-boyfriend cover it up. Troconis has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit murder, evidence tampering, conspiracy to evidence tamper, and hindering prosecution.
“There is no place in New Canaan or in that Suburban that has Michelle Troconis' DNA, and I’ll emphasize, this testing they can do can find as little as three cells,” Schoenhorn during the mid-day recess.
On cross examination, he pushed Madel about the testing process and pointed out it only shows the likelihood a DNA profile matches.
"It's not identifying anyone, is it?" Schoenhorn asked.
"No, it doesn't identify anybody," Madel responded.
Though Troconis is Schoenhorn’s client, part of his defense is going after the evidence against Fotis Dulos, which prosecutors are spending a good amount of time on. Laying that foundation is critical to any prosecution of Troconis.
“Because the state has to prove - under the way that it's charged - that Fotis Dulos committed a murder. If they're unable to prove that, then those charges go away. So, I'm just holding the state to its burden of proof. I’m not going to be challenging everything. Much of this really has nothing to do with my client,” Schoenhorn stated.
Madel’s testimony was very technical and at times confusing. The judge stopped her at least once and asked she try to give her answers in a more narrative way to help the jury understand. Her cross examination continues Friday morning. Court is set to resume at 10:15 a.m., but the judge said it could be delayed due to impending winter weather.
Troconis is the first person to stand trial in a case that shook New Canaan and made international headlines almost five years ago. Fotis Dulos died by suicide in January 2020 shortly after he was arrested on charges including murder and kidnapping in Jennifer Dulos’ disappearance. That left Troconis and his other alleged accomplice as the remaining defendants. Kent Mawhinney, Fotis Dulos’ friend and former attorney, was also charged with conspiracy to commit murder and has pleaded not guilty. The state may call him to testify against Troconis.