Judge dismisses juror in Troconis trial for comments about case, referencing ‘Gone Girl’
The judge in the Michelle Troconis trial dismissed another juror on Friday morning for making comments about the case in front of other jurors and referencing the movie “Gone Girl.” It happened in Stamford Superior Court before anyone even took the stand in the sixth day of testimony.
A marshal handed Judge Kevin Randolph a note from an anonymous juror, which read: “One of the jurors discussed something about the case, and it was all over social media. Said it was like ‘Gone Girl.’ A brief mention. Several other jurors said, ‘Don't discuss this.’”
"Gone Girl" is a novel by Gillian Flynn that became a movie starring Ben Affleck and Rosamud Pike in 2014. It's about a woman who stages her own disappearance, planting evidence to make her husband a suspect.
Randolph closed the courtroom to question the juror who allegedly made the comments.
“That juror indicated that the comments were made,” Randolph said after. He didn’t specify what the juror said during the closed session, but the end result was the juror’s dismissal.
The judge stated he told the juror, “The reference made to ‘Gone Girl’ and the fact that the case had received extensive social media mention may have influenced other jurors to possibly not afford the state or the defense—one or the other—a fair trial."
Every other juror was individually questioned, as well. Some had heard the comment, some had not, according to Randolph.
“Without exception, every juror indicated that they would be able to afford the state and the defense a fair and impartial trial,” he explained in open court.
Randolph said the questioning of jurors was on the record and a transcript of it should be available with the jurors’ names redacted Monday.
The dismissal leaves just three alternate jurors and six regular jurors. On Wednesday, another juror was let go after saying, “Ok but we love you,” to prosecutors after they declined to get into the elevator with him, another alternate and a marshal. Randolph said that comment could be interpreted as his feelings towards the state’s case and said it impaired the defense’s ability to have a fair and impartial jury.
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Troconis is accused of conspiring with her then-boyfriend to kill his wife the morning of May 24, 2019. Investigators believe Jennifer Dulos was the victim of a violent attack by Fotis Dulos while the two were going through a prolonged and ugly divorce. After Fotis Dulos' arrest, his attorney, Norm Pattis, suggested to the media that Jennifer Dulos had faked her disappearance like in "Gone Girl." That theory was rejected by the book's author and Jennifer Dulos' family. Judge John Blawie also issued a gag order in the case as a result. The order was lifted in 2020 after Fotis Dulos died by suicide, leaving his two alleged accomplices as the remaining defendants.
Troconis has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit murder, evidence tampering, conspiracy to commit evidence tampering and hindering prosecution. She and her family have denied all allegations. Kent Mawhinney, Fotis Dulos’ friend and former attorney, was also charged with conspiracy to commit murder and has pleaded not guilty. Mawhinney is on the prosecution’s list of possible witnesses in Troconis’ trial.
RELATED: Trial begins for Michelle Troconis, alleged co-conspirator in disappearance of Jennifer Dulos
Testimony on Friday centered on blood stain pattern analysis. Lt. Col. Mark Davison, of Connecticut State Police, answered questions about the blood-like stains found in Jennifer Dulos’ garage, as well as on the Range Rover parked there and the Chevy Suburban found on Lapham Road. Davison testified the Suburban was likely in the garage at the time of the bloodshed incident. He also explained a reconstruction he did to try and determine what happened in the garage and where. Davison said by looking at the blood spatter—stains that are made when an object hits a source of blood—and using strings to reconstruct the scene, he came up with multiple "areas of convergence," the origin of where the impact occurred. One of those areas was in front of the Range Rover’s driver’s side door, while another was low to the garage floor, according to Davison.
Sgt. Kenneth Ventresca took the stand at the end of the day. Ventresca testified about GPS data from Fotis Dulos’ phone putting him on Albany Avenue in Hartford the night Jennifer Dulos disappeared. Ventresca testified about obtaining surveillance video from the area. Court adjourned before that video was shown, but it is expected to be a central focus of the state’s case. According to police, that footage shows Fotis Dulos dumping evidence with Troconis as a passenger in his truck. Ventresca returns to the stand Monday morning.
The judge said the trial will likely take six weeks but could go until March 1.
RELATED: Judge denies motions to suppress Michelle Troconis’ police interviews, DNA evidence in Jennifer Dulos case