Jury in Troconis trial sees videos of red pickup truck allegedly used in Jennifer Dulos disappearance, presumed murder
Day 13 of Michelle Troconis’ trial saw the prosecution map out how Troconis’ former boyfriend got to New Canaan to allegedly kill his estranged wife, Jennifer Dulos. The jury viewed videos of a trail police say Fotis Dulos left on the morning Jennifer Dulos disappeared, May 24, 2019. All of the videos focused on a red 2001 Toyota Tacoma owned by one of Fotis Dulos’ employees, Pawel Gumienny.
Sgt. Michel Beauton took the stand first to testify about surveillance footage obtained from a home on Mountain Spring Road in Farmington across the street from a property owned by Fotis Dulos’ company, the Fore Group. It showed a red pickup truck coming out of the driveway of 80 Mountain Spring Road at 5:35 a.m. and turning left.
Police believe Fotis Dulos, not Gumienny, was behind the wheel and headed to the small Fairfield County town where Jennifer Dulos lived, allegedly attacking her in the garage, then disposing of her body.
Troconis was his girlfriend at the time and is accused of plotting the presumed murder with him and helping him try to hide the crime. She’s pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit murder, evidence tampering, conspiracy to commit evidence tampering, and hindering prosecution.
In court, Troconis’ attorney pointed out that the truck is only seen in the upper right-hand corner of the video. “You are not able to tell whether there was—who was in the red pickup truck that was pulling out of 80 Mountain Spring road, correct?” Jon Schoenhorn asked Beauton. “Or what was in it.” Beauton said that was correct.
Retired Connecticut State Police Trooper Gregory LeBeau took the stand next and explained how he poured through video from the Merrit Parkway and was able to track the truck’s movements. LeBeau said cameras caught the truck pass the Fairfield rest stop at 6:36 a.m., then the New Canaan one at 7:03. He told the jury how he knew it was the truck in question and not just another red pickup, saying it had very specific characteristics. “We're looking at a chrome rear bumper, a chrome tubular running board, your silver-grayish rims, black grill, as well as a snowplow hitch,” LeBeau said. New Canaan Police Officer Kelly Coughlin picked up the prosecution's narration of the truck's path. Coughlin testified cameras from school buses recorded the truck parked on Lapham Road outside Waveny Park near where Jennifer Dulos' black Chevy Suburban was later found abandoned. Coughlin said that around 7:40 a.m. and explained the truck was parked in a cutout, just as the SUV later was. Those videos were shown in court but not on the live stream of the trial after a request by Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney Michelle Manning due to the footage including minor children.
The jury also saw video from the Merritt Parkway rest stops of the truck heading northbound from New Canaan in the 11 o’clock hour. The defense brought up how you couldn’t see who was driving the truck or its license plate. But LeBeau said something about the later videos stood out to him, which he took screen shots of.
“I was extremely interested in the objects in the back of the pickup truck,” LeBeau said. He was not allowed to testify about what he thought they were. That presumably is something the jury will hear more about in the future.
Also on Tuesday, the jury heard about the first police interaction with the pickup truck’s owner, Pavel Gumienny, who is expected to take the stand at some point. Beauton testified about going to 4 Jefferson Crossing in Farmington—the home where Fotis Dulos Troconis lived—to serve a search warrant and body warrants on the evening of May 31, 2019—one week after Jennifer Dulos vanished. Beauton said no one was home but at one point, he saw a white Jeep Cherokee that he recognized as being owned by Fotis Dulos’ company driving slowly down the street with someone resembling Fotis Dulos behind the wheel. Beauton said he flagged down the driver, who turned out to be Gumienny.
“He appeared to me to be very nervous. I noticed that his breathing rate was elevated. He was breathing at a higher rate than you would expect someone to be just driving in a car. I also observed the carotid artery in his neck was pulsating indicating that his heartbeat was beating pretty fast,” Beauton said. “I noticed that his shirt was soaked in sweat.”
Beauton said Gumienny identified himself, said he’d just come from a Fore Group property in New Canaan and was dropping some tools off at Fotis Dulos’ home.
“I had indicated to Mr. Gumienny I thought it was suspicious that his shirt was soaked in sweat as it was due to the fact, he just told me he drove up from New Canaan, presumably inside of an air-conditioned vehicle. I didn't feel his shirt would be so sweaty,” Beauton testified. “He then elaborated further on his comings and goings and stated after coming from New Canaan, he stopped down the road, also at a property owned by Mr. Dulos, 585 Deerfield, and he had indicated to me that he was removing vehicle seats from a Porsche that belonged to Fotis so that he could put them into his own truck.”
Beauton told the jury he looked in the back of the Jeep and saw what appeared to be vehicle seats, along with a bunch of paper towels and hand tools. According to Fotis Dulos’ arrest warrants, Gumienny later told police Fotis Dulos had told him to switch out the Tacoma’s seats after borrowing the pickup truck.
Beauton also testified about seeing Fotis Dulos and Troconis at the state police Troop L barracks in Litchfield on the night of May 31, 2019—after the two were escorted there so police could take DNA samples and photographs of them. Beauton said Troconis had her head in her hands and was rocking back and forth and at one point, gave Fotis Dulos a “stern” look.
"When the two made eye contact, I would say he made an even sterner look back toward her,” Beauton testified. He later called it, “a look of disdain” when being questioned by Troconis’ attorney.
“Whatever you observed in my client, you're saying Dulos gave an even stronger look or glare at her, is that a fair way to put it?" Schoenhorn asked.
"That would be a fair statement, yes," Beauton replied.
Fotis Dulos died by suicide in January 2020 while facing murder and other charges in the case. Troconis is the first of two remaining defendants to stand trial. Kent Mawhinney, Fotis Dulos’ friend and former attorney, is also charged with conspiracy to commit murder and has pleaded not guilty.
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