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Michelle Troconis’ mother testifies at hearing about police search in Jennifer Dulos case

Marisela Arreaza was called as a witness by the defense as attorneys for both sides argued whether a police search was legally executed at the Farmington home where Troconis lived with Fotis Dulos when his estranged wife vanished on May 24, 2019.

Marissa Alter

Sep 7, 2023, 11:34 PM

Updated 253 days ago

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Michelle Troconis, the woman charged in connection with the disappearance and presumed death of Jennifer Dulos, always has her family with her at Stamford Superior Court during hearings in the case. But on Thursday, Troconis’ mother wasn’t just in the courtroom gallery. She was also on the stand.
Marisela Arreaza was called as a witness by the defense as attorneys for both sides argued whether a police search was legally executed at the Farmington home where Troconis lived with Fotis Dulos when his estranged wife vanished on May 24, 2019. State police believe Fotis Dulos killed Jennifer Dulos inside her home in New Canaan, but her body has never been found.
Troconis’ attorney Jon Schoenhorn filed a motion to suppress any evidence police seized during the search of 4 Jefferson Crossing in Farmington, which Schoenhorn claims wasn’t fully documented and went beyond the scope of the warrant.
“It was like the Wild West if I may use that as analogy,” Schoenhorn argued in court.
He said on May 31, 2019, police ordered Fotis Dulos, Michelle Troconis, Troconis' daughter and Troconis' visiting mother out of the home for several days illegally. Arreaza told the court how an officer accompanied her inside the home to grab her belongings and said he seized her laptop from her suitcase.
“He took it and immediately. I said, ‘No, sir. That's mine. That's my computer. Remember I’m a visitor. I don't live here.’ And he grabbed it anyway,” Arreaza recalled.
She said the laptop contained her personal information, as well as files necessary for her work as a mental health counselor. Arreaza told the court she didn’t get it back for four years.
Schoenhorn said that was one example of how police were unreasonable in their search. He also pointed to documents recovered from Fotis Dulos' home office, some of which Schoenhorn said were privileged communications with Fotis Dulos' divorce attorney at the time, Jacob Pytranker. That included what police have termed "alibi scripts," handwritten timelines of where Fotis Dulos and Michelle Troconis allegedly were on the day Jennifer Dulos disappeared.
Pytranker also took the stand Thursday and said he believes he told his client to write down his activities on the day in question, which Schoenhorn argued makes it document “created for the purposes of litigation” and beyond what the warrant allowed.
But Supervisory State’s Attorney Michelle Manning countered that police had no way of knowing if anything in the officer fell under attorney/client privilege.
“Did you at any point call law enforcement or have any communication with them and inform them there may be communications or privileged communications inside the home of 4 Jefferson,” Manning asked Pytranker on cross examination. He answered no.
The hearing came one day after Judge Kevin Randolph denied a different defense motion to toss all evidence seized from the Jefferson Crossing home. Schoenhorn previously argued the search warrant itself was overly broad and lacked probable cause. In a ruling issued Wednesday, Randolph wrote, “the warrant did not fail the particularity requirement of the fourth amendment to the United States Constitution.”
That ruling doesn’t cover other suppression motions filed by Schoenhorn concerning cellular tower dumps, electronic devices, DNA samples, and the method of executing the search warrant. Thursday’s hearing on the latter also included testimony from a state police investigator. That is due to continue Friday.
Troconis has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit murder, evidence tampering, conspiracy to evidence tamper, and hindering prosecution. She is one of two remaining defendants in the case after Fotis Dulos died by suicide in January 2020. Kent Mawhinney, Fotis Dulos’ friend and former attorney, is charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Mawhinney has also pleaded not guilty.


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