Judge denies Michelle Troconis' motions for acquittal and new trial, could vacate one charge

During his motion for a new trial, Jon Schoenhorn said he objected to the state's closing arguments, specifically the number of times of the state used the word lies.

Marissa Alter

Apr 10, 2024, 2:18 PM

Updated 38 days ago

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A Stamford Superior Court judge denied Michelle Troconis’ motions for acquittal and a new trial in the disappearance and presumed death of Jennifer Dulos. But Judge Kevin Randolph said he will consider vacating one of the six charges she was convicted of.
On Wednesday, Troconis blew a kiss to her family and friends after she was led into the courtroom for her hearing. It came nearly six weeks after a jury found Troconis guilty of six felonies: conspiracy to commit murder, two counts of evidence tampering, two counts of conspiracy to commit evidence tampering and hindering prosecution.
Randolph upheld that verdict, despite arguments from the defense that the evidence against Troconis was based solely on speculation. In his ruling, Randolph brought up Troconis' police interviews.
“There were eight hours of inconsistencies about material matters and a cascade of circumstantial evidence,” Randolph said. “The court determined there was sufficient evidence to go to the jury on each one of those counts.”
Troconis was living with her then-boyfriend, Fotis Dulos, when his estranged wife vanished on May 24, 2019. Jennifer Dulos and Fotis Dulos were in the midst of a contentious two-year divorce and custody battle at the time. Troconis was convicted of plotting with Fotis Dulos to kill Jennifer Dulos and helping him cover up the crime.
But Randolph said Wednesday, he will consider vacating one of the two counts of conspiracy to commit evidence tampering after the defense argued the second violated double jeopardy laws, which prohibit anyone from being prosecuted twice for the same crime.
The counts pertain to two separate events on different days in different towns—the disposal of evidence in Hartford on May 24 and the cleaning and detailing of a red pickup truck in Avon on May 29. But Attorney Jon Schoenhorn said the prosecution alleged the goal of both events was to destroy evidence of Jennifer Dulos’ presumed murder. Schoenhorn argued state late doesn’t allow multiple charges for a single conspiracy. Randolph called that “a colorable claim,” which he will consider. The judge said he will issue a ruling on whether he will vacate one of those conspiracy charges at the start of Troconis’ sentencing hearing on May 31.
“If he grants that, those are one or two less issues I have to worry about in the appeal,” Schoenhorn told reporters.
Randolph also denied the defense's motion for a new trial, which listed 22 reasons for the request. Several had to do with evidence the defense previously tried to get excluded from trial, including the results of presumptive blood tests.
“My expectations were pretty low. It is pretty difficult to get a judge to ever reconsider a ruling,” Schoenhorn said outside the courthouse, adding that this hearing was really the first step in what will be an extensive appeal.
The motion also included a claim Assistant State's Attorney Sean McGuinness acted improper in his closing argument and used the five Dulos children to elicit sympathy and prejudice the jury by having the kids sit in the first rows and naming them at the start of his argument.
“I once heard an expression, ‘When you can’t point to the facts, you point to the law. When you can't point to the law, you point to the prosecutor, and I guess we've reached that stage of this proceedings,” McGuinness responded.
After court, Troconis' family joined Schoenhorn and vowed their unwavering support for her.
“It's simply unfair that my sister is paying for someone else's crimes and that, you know, being with the wrong guy made her a criminal,” said Claudia Troconis-Marmol. “We love you, Michi. Te amo. And we're going to continue fighting for your innocence to prove it because it will be proven.”
“Her remorse only is she fell in love with the wrong man at the wrong time in the wrong place,” added her father, Carlos Troconis.
Fotis Dulos died by suicide in January 2020 while facing murder and other charges in the case. State police alleged he killed Jennifer Dulos in her garage in New Canaan, then got rid of her body. Jennifer Dulos has never been found, but a judge declared her dead.
Fotis Dulos’ death left Troconis and Kent Mawhinney, Fotis Dulos’ friend and former attorney, as the remaining defendants in the case. Mawhinney is also charged with conspiracy to commit murder and is awaiting trial. No date has been set yet. He is free on bond as Troconis was until the jury’s verdict on March 1.
Troconis remains in custody at York Correctional Institution on a $6 million bond, which her family can’t post right now.
“The costs going forward are substantial. This family, although of some means, is not wealthy. Therefore, the costs of both continuing with this matter as well coming up with the money for bond is very extreme,” Schoenhorn told reporters. “They are going to be seeking to raise money from people—friends, family and anybody else who wants to contribute, who believes that at least a new trial is in order, and Michelle should be out and awaiting the results of that in the community rather than being locked up.”
Troconis’ bond release conditions include that she would have to remain in Connecticut, where she wasn’t living prior to her trial. Schoenhorn called that “punitive” and said he intends to address that once she’s able to bond out. Schoenhorn said Troconis is doing OK under the circumstances.
“For somebody who's never in her life prior to this even had a parking ticket or a speeding ticket, let alone being accused of serious felonies, you can imagine how hard it is for her,” Schoenhorn stated.
Troconis is facing a maximum of 50 years in prison if the judge doesn’t vacate one of the counts of conspiracy to commit evidence tampering. If he does, Troconis faces a maximum sentence of 45 years.
She also has a pending contempt of court charge. Troconis is accused of displaying a court-sealed document from the Dulos divorce case on her laptop during her trial. She returns to court in that case on May 15.


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