Fotis Dulos’ former employee testifies on Day 18 of Michelle Troconis’ trial
Long-awaited testimony in Michelle Troconis’ trial began Tuesday when a former employee of Fotis Dulos took the stand at Stamford Superior Court on Day 18 of the trial. Pawel Gumienny, the owner of the red Toyota Tacoma police believe was used in Jennifer Dulos’ presumed murder, is considered a key witness for the prosecution. Gumienny was granted immunity in exchange for his cooperation.
Gumienny’s testimony included recalling a harsh comment he heard Troconis make in the spring of 2019 after Fotis Dulos said his estranged wife wouldn’t allow their kids to come to his home in Farmington and say goodbye to his dying dog.
“She said, ‘That b**** should be buried right next to this dog,’” Gumienny told the jury.
He also recalled another alleged comment from Troconis—this one made in the days after Jennifer Dulos vanished on May 24, 2019. Gumienny stated that Troconis was angry that the disappearance led to pictures of her and her daughter in the media and said, “I'm gonna kill that f****** b**** when she turns up.”
Troconis is on trial for allegedly conspiring with her then-boyfriend to murder Jennifer Dulos. Police believe Fotis Dulos drove Gumienny's pickup truck to New Canaan, killed Jennifer Dulos in her garage, then disposed of her body, which has never been found.
About a month or two before Jennifer Dulos went missing, Gumienny said he heard a conversation between Fotis Dulos and a video subcontractor in the Fore Group office at Fotis Dulos’ home. Gumienny told the jury Fotis Dulos was showing the subcontractor pictures of Jennifer Dulos’ home in New Canaan and asking him if it looked like there were cameras anywhere. Gumienny said he joined the conversation after the contractor said no.
“I said, ‘You know she can record with anything. Just don't do anything stupid when you go there,” Gumienny testified.
Gumienny, who worked as a project manager for the Fore Group, explained that it was common for him to leave his truck at Fotis Dulos’ home, 4 Jefferson Crossing in Farmington, during the work week. He said he used a company vehicle to go to job sites, often keeping it from Monday morning through Friday afternoon so he could go straight to a work location from his home in Simsbury. Gumienny also stated that sometime before May 24, 2019, Fotis Dulos asked him to move the Tacoma from 4 Jefferson Crossing to a Fore Group property at 80 Mountain Spring Road in Farmington, something Gumienny noted his employer had never asked him to do before.
RELATED: Evidence from red pickup truck, fingerprint on garbage bag focus of Troconis trial on Day 14
The day Jennifer Dulos disappeared began like any other, Gumienny testified. He drove the Fore Group’s Ford Raptor from his home to a job site on Sturbridge Hill Road in New Canaan. Gumienny said he returned to 4 Jefferson Crossing around 4:30 p.m., but there was nobody home despite Gumienny arranging for Fotis Dulos to be there and drive Gumienny to his truck at 80 Mountain Spring Road. Gumienny testified he called his boss, but when Fotis Dulos didn’t answer, Gumienny decided to drive to the property.
Gumienny told the jury he found Fotis Dulos and Troconis at 80 Mountain Spring Road, where both seemed “surprised” to see him. Gumienny said he noticed Fotis Dulos had shaved his head and joked about him copying Gumienny’s hairstyle.
“You shaved your head. You’re wearing dirty old work clothes. You trying to be as handsome as me?” Gumienny recalled saying.
Police believe Fotis Dulos may have done so to make himself look like Gumienny in case anyone spotted Fotis Dulos while he was carrying out the alleged crime.
Gumienny recalled on that afternoon, Fotis Dulos told him that he and Troconis were at the property to clean it.
“Isn’t it true that in all those years you never saw her cleaning a project site?” Assistant State’s Attorney Sean McGuinness asked Gumienny regarding Troconis.
“I don't recall it,” Gumienny responded.
He also said he didn’t see any garbage bags or cleaning supplies.
Gumienny also stated that when he got into the Tacoma later to drive home, he didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, including blood.
But what was strange was a conversation with Fotis Dulos when Gumienny returned to work after Memorial Day. Gumienny testified that Fotis Dulos questioned his whereabouts on the day Jennfier Dulos disappeared, which was surprising to Gumienny. He said Fotis Dulos also suggested Gumienny write a timeline of where he was on May 24, 2019.
“I was surprised. I told him, ‘What am I going to do? If police come over and ask me, I'm going to pull up a piece of paper and read it to them?’” Gumienny recalled, adding that he told Fotis Dulos he wouldn’t do it.
Gumienny testified that later that week he came back to 4 Jefferson Crossing and found his Tacoma was gone. He said when he called his boss, he learned Fotis Dulos had taken the truck to be washed and detailed—something Gumienny said Fotis Dulos had never done in all of Gumienny’s years at the Fore Group. Gumienny said when Fotis Dulos returned with the pickup, he said the seat controls weren’t working and Gumienny should switch out the truck’s seats—something Fotis Dulos later became insistent about.
“He told me, ‘If I call you and we talk about it on the phone, let’s not call then seats. Let's call them hardware,’” Gumienny recalled.
Gumienny testified Fotis Dulos hounded him about switching the seats and became angry when Gumienny said he couldn't find any others at the junkyard. Gumienny explained he eventually did end up switching the Tacoma’s seats after Fotis Dulos suggested using seats from his Porsche. But Gumienny told the jury he held onto the pickup’s seats and later turned them over to police.
Gumienny returns to the stand Wednesday morning to continue his testimony.
Meanwhile, Troconis’ family, who’s been adamant she had nothing to do with Jennifer Dulos’ disappearance, addressed reporters outside the courthouse during the lunch recess. Her sister Marisela Troconis said they’ve received hundreds of letters from people in support of Troconis.
“I am writing on Michelle’s behalf because what I read in the media about her has nothing to do with the Michelle we know. Michelle is an exceptional and loving parent, totally dedicated to raising her daughter. Michelle is a responsible, thoughtful, caring, loving person who would not act in any way to harm anyone,” Marisela Troconis read out loud from one of them.
Another letter mentioned Troconis’ passion for helping people and her ability to work with children with special needs.
Yet another read, “She always sees the good in others, and I rarely know her to speak ill of anyone. She loves her daughter and would do nothing to put her in jeopardy. Michelle wouldn't hurt a fly.” Troconis has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit murder, evidence tampering, conspiracy to commit evidence tampering and hindering prosecution.
RELATED: Troconis jury hears from forensic experts about hair, potential blood found on evidence in Dulos case