Evidence from red pickup truck, fingerprint on garbage bag focus of Troconis trial on Day 14

A red 2001 Toyota Tacoma was again the focus of testimony at Stamford Superior Court Wednesday, Day 14 of Michelle Troconis’ trial in connection to the disappearance and presumed murder of Jennifer Dulos.

Marissa Alter

Jan 31, 2024, 5:52 PM

Updated 170 days ago


A red 2001 Toyota Tacoma was again the focus of testimony at Stamford Superior Court Wednesday, Day 14 of Michelle Troconis’ trial in connection to the disappearance and presumed murder of Jennifer Dulos. One day after jurors saw video footage tracking the pickup truck’s movements from Farmington to New Canaan the morning of May 24, 2019, they got a closer look at the vehicle. It belonged to one of Fotis Dulos’ employees, Pawel Gumienny, but state police believe Fotis Dulos, who was Troconis’ boyfriend at the time, used the truck to kill his estranged wife.
Retired Connecticut State Police Sgt. Matthew Reilly, who was the evidence officer in the Jennifer Dulos investigation, returned to the stand to talk about processing the truck once police seized it. The jury saw picture after picture as Reilly testified. He noted how the truck appeared to have been fully cleaned—including the license plates, exterior, truck bed and even the tires.
“Not only the tires are clean, but the rims as well,” Reilly said pointing to a picture of them.
"How would you describe the doors and the carpet and the interior of the vehicle?" asked Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney Michelle Manning.
“It was very clean for an 18-year-old truck,” Reilly responded, later noting there were no rocks or mud anywhere.
Reilly also said the truck's black leather front seats appeared to be from a Porsche and neither was attached to the floor in any way.
“They were just kind of sitting there. The driver's seat was kind of propped upright on like a small plastic bucket,” Reilly explained. “The passenger side seat was just kind of leaned back.”
Manning brought up that Fotis Dulos owned a Porsche Cayanne, which police examined at one of company’s properties on Deerfield Road in Farmington.
"With respect to the inside of that vehicle, did it contain seats?" Manning asked.
“Not in the front. I remember the front seats were missing,” Reilly answered.
Reilly testified he also processed an additional pair of vehicle seats that were in the truck’s bed. Police believe those were the truck’s front seats on the day Jennifer Dulos vanished. One was missing the seat cover. Reilly said the other had a stain and a presumptive blood test done on scene was positive. Reilly explained that evidence was sent to the state forensic science lab.
“Instead of actually swabbing the area, we cut the seat cover and seized that piece with the stain,” Reilly explained.
Reilly also told the jury he swabbed a blood-like stain on the interior of the driver’s side door that was positive for presumptive blood, and he swabbed the license plate screws for DNA. He said he later removed the license plates, the interior of the passenger side door, and the passenger side carpeting for testing at the lab.
Police believe Fotis Dulos drove the truck to New Canaan, leaving it on Lapham Road outside Waveny Park, while he attacked Jennifer Dulos in her garage. A school bus camera captured the pickup truck while it was parked.
Reilly testified it was near where Jennifer Dulos’ black Chevy Suburban was later found abandoned that night.
After the crime, Fotis Dulos told the truck's owner to swap out the seats with ones from his Porsche, according to Fotis Dulos’ arrest warrant.
But during the defense’s cross examination, Attorney Jon Schoenhorn pointed out those additional seats Reilly processed weren’t Toyota Tacoma seats.
“By inspecting these seats, you could tell from what was on them was they were from the Ford Motor Company, correct?” Schoenhorn asked.
“Yes,” Reilly said.
Schoenhorn also challenged the presumptive blood testing and said all of the items sent to the lab ended up coming back negative for blood.
Reilly disagreed, saying he remembered the cutting from the seat cover was positive for blood, but he would defer to the lab technicians who will be testifying.  
The prosecution called Kevin Parisi to the stand next. Parisi is an expert in fingerprint analysis with the state forensic science lab and examined several items from this case, including evidence police seized from Albany Ave. in Hartford. Parisi testified Fotis Dulos’ prints were matched to one of the garbage bags and two pieces of tape removed from the bags. Michelle Troconis' prints were not found on anything, which Schoenhorn pointed out during his cross-examination of Parisi.
Troconis is accused of plotting the crime with Fotis Dulos and helping him cover it up. She’s pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit murder, evidence tampering, conspiracy to commit evidence tampering and hindering prosecution. She is the first defendant in the case to stand trial since Fotis Dulos died by suicide in January 2020 while facing murder and other charges.
Parisi’s testimony ended with him saying he did not compare any of the prints to Gumienny or Kent Mawhinney, who’s also charged in the case. Mawhinney has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Jennifer Dulos. The prosecution said he may testify at Troconis’ trial.

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