Michelle Troconis accused of violating court order at trial; jury hears testimony about Dulos custody battle

Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney Michelle Manning told the judge that Troconis displayed on her monitor part of a sealed report regarding the custody battle between Jennifer Dulos and Fotis Dulos, who was Troconis’ boyfriend at the time.

Marissa Alter

Feb 15, 2024, 10:17 PM

Updated 68 days ago

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Michelle Troconis could be held in contempt of court after accusations made by the prosecution once testimony at Stamford Superior Court finished Thursday, Day 22 of Troconis’ trial in connection to the disappearance and presumed death of Jennifer Dulos.
Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney Michelle Manning told the judge that Troconis displayed on her monitor part of a sealed report regarding the custody battle between Jennifer Dulos and Fotis Dulos, who was Troconis’ boyfriend at the time. Manning said the report was in large font, and she called it “a huge concern” with the gallery and a camera behind Troconis. She explained one of Jennifer Dulos’ friends noticed it and told the prosecution.
The sealed report was part of testimony earlier in the day from attorney Michael Meehan, the guardian ad litem appointed to represent the five Dulos children during the Dulos divorce case.
Meehan told the jury about speaking with Fotis Dulos when Meehan first came on to the case in August 2017.
“It was his goal to have everyone live in the house together. That being Ms. Dulos, along with the children, along with Ms. Troconis and her daughter as well,” Meehan stated.
Meehan testified that he worked with them to develop a temporary parenting plan in November 2017, but it was only in place for a couple months. He said in January 2018, Fotis Dulos was barred from seeing his children. Meehan said that was later loosened to supervised visits, but the custody order didn’t allow Troconis and her daughter, who both lived with Fotis Dulos at his home in Farmington, to be around the Dulos kids.
Meehan recalled a phone call he received from Fotis Dulos in March 2019 after the judge made that ruling.
“Mr. Dulos was down. he was concerned. he was upset,” Meehan said on the stand. “He indicated he was concerned the continued litigation would have an adverse impact on his relationship with Ms. Troconis.”
Meehan testified he also spoke with Troconis on that call, saying she was down and frustrated, but her tone remained calm. He read aloud from his notes about the conversation.
“Michelle wanted to know what she had done to cause the court to order that she not be permitted in contact with the children,” Meehan said, adding that Troconis said she’d never met her then-boyfriend’s wife but would be open to meeting Jennifer Dulos for coffee to discuss being reintroduced to the kids. “Michelle indicated that she didn't move here for all this, and that she felt badly for the children and Nicole [her daughter]. She believed they have all been the victims of this litigation. She's also divorced, and she doesn't act this way with Nicole’s father.”
Meehan also told the jury Fotis Dulos was encouraged by a custody report that came out in April 2019—a report that is sealed and its contents not admissible at trial. Meehan said the findings led Fotis Dulos to file a new motion, which Meehan was barred from speaking on, with both sides appearing in court in May. That was just weeks before police believe Fotis Dulos killed Jennifer Dulos in her home in New Canaan.
“He became frustrated after the first hearing day that we had on his motion,” Meehan testified, explaining there were no changes to the custody order.
Meehan also read from his notes about a phone conversation he had with Fotis Dulos on May 25, 2019, one day after Jennifer Dulos was last seen.
“’Mike, have you heard the news?’ I replied, ‘No.’ He then stated, ‘Jennifer is missing.’ I noticed the tone in his voice to not be down or somber but to be more excited,” Meehan read. “I asked him where he was yesterday and whether he had an alibi. He said he was home in Farmington all morning, then in meetings."
During Meehan’s cross examination, defense attorney Audrey Felsen centered on Fotis Dulos' truthfulness, or lack thereof.
“Was it your opinion that Mr. Dulos lied an awful lot?” Felsen asked.
“Yes,” Meehan responded after a pause.
The defense also took aim at Fotis Dulos' character during testimony from the day’s first witness, Fotis Dulos’ neighbor, Garrison Hudkins. Attorney Jon Schoenhorn focused on what Hudkins said to police.
"You told them that he was condescending towards women, correct?" Schoenhorn asked.
“He could be condescending towards women. Correct,” Hudkins replied, adding that Fotis Dulos had been very condescending to Hudkins’ wife.
Hudkins also testified about speaking with Fotis Dulos on May 26, two days after Jennifer Dulos disappeared.
“He had a shaved head, and I did not recognize him initially,” Hudkins recalled.
Hudkins said he told Fotis Dulos that he hoped his wife was okay and the children were doing okay.
“What was his response?” Manning asked.
“He asked me how long we retained our security video and to make sure it didn't get deleted because he needed to prove that he was there on Friday,” Hudkins stated, adding that Fotis Dulos also discussed his attorney’s advice to make timelines of their whereabouts that day.
The jury also saw surveillance video from Hudkins’ home from the morning of May 29. That’s when Fotis Dulos allegedly dropped off the red Toyota Tacoma, which police believe he used in the crime, to Russell Speeder’s Car Wash in Avon to be fully detailed.
The video showed the pickup truck and a black GMC Yukon leaving Fotis Dulos’ home.
FBI Special Agent Kevin Hoyland was the final witness Thursday. Hoyland testified about data from Troconis’ cell phone that put her in the area of the car wash around 9:12 a.m. and 2:20 p.m., the same times the pickup truck was dropped off and picked up. His testimony also showed that the contact number left with Russell Speeder’s was Troconis’ number. Hoyland also used cell tower data to show where phones for Troconis and Dulos were on May 24, including near Albany Avenue in Hartford that evening. That’s where police later recovered bloody evidence connected to Jennifer Dulos’ presumed murder.
Schoenhorn and Troconis’ mother spoke with reporters outside the courthouse.
“It has been a very long trial, mostly about Fotis,” Marisela Arreaza said. “I want to say that I have been with my daughter since May 30, 2019. Of course, she's innocent. She doesn't have anything to do with Jennifer's disappearance, ok? And we're here to support her, and we hope it will end soon because it has been a tragedy for us, and I'm sure it's a tragedy for the Farber family, too. But we want things to end and for my daughter to be okay again and to regain our lives.”
News 12 asked Arreaza if she thinks Fotis Dulos was involved in what happened to Jennifer Dulos, but she deferred to Schoenhorn, who reiterated his prior statements about the trial.
“This appears to be the trial of Fotis Dulos. Almost nothing in this entire month that we’ve been here—more than a month now—has much, if anything ,to do with Michelle Troconis,” Schoenhorn said. “The entire case, at least 99% of it, is about Fotis Dulos’ conduct and notably, his conduct outside the presence of my client.”
Fotis Dulos died by suicide in January 2020 while awaiting trial in the case for charges including murder and kidnapping. Troconis is accused of plotting with Fotis Dulos, helping him cover up the crime, and lying to police. She’s pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit murder, evidence tampering, conspiracy to commit evidence tampering and hindering prosecution.
Troconis’ third and final interview with police is expected to be played in court Friday, but the day will begin with the judge taking up the issue of Troconis allegedly displaying the sealed report. Judge Kevin Randolph said if that’s determined to be the truth, it would be a direct violation of a court order and lead to a contempt of court hearing.
Manning also said it wasn’t the first time Troconis displayed something on her screen for the gallery. Manning said the state learned that during testimony from a forensic scientist, Troconis had an article pulled up with a headline about a forensic scientist being found liable for fabricating evidence in a murder case. Manning also claimed that one of Troconis’ family members was mouthing to the jury at one point, and “this has to be raised.”
Court resumes at 10 a.m. Friday without the jury present.


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