No verdict reached after first full day of deliberations in Michelle Troconis trial

Michelle Troconis faces six charges in connection to the disappearance and presumed death of New Canaan mom Jennifer Dulos.

Marissa Alter

Feb 28, 2024, 5:30 PM

Updated 52 days ago


The first full day of jury deliberations in the Michelle Troconis trial didn’t include a verdict, but it did involve replaying testimony. The jury of six, made up of three men and three women, got the case late Tuesday. They deliberated for only half an hour before court was adjourned. They picked back up again at 10 a.m. Wednesday, contemplating whether Troconis is connected to the disappearance and presumed death of Jennifer Dulos nearly five years ago.
The jury sent a note around 12:15 p.m. requesting to rehear the testimony of Clara “Petu” Duperron. Duperron is Troconis’ close friend and was the final witness before the defense rested Friday. The 38 minutes that she was on the stand were then played back for the jury in open court. Several witnesses who testified for the prosecution were there to hear the jury’s question, including Sgt. Kenneth Ventresca, former Det. John Kimball and Sgt. Michael Beauton. One of Jennifer Dulos’ loved ones blew a kiss to investigators before the jury came in. The group of loved ones also included Lauren Almeida, the nanny to the five Dulos children.
In the recording, Duperron said Troconis never made disparaging remarks about Jennifer Dulos, and she described Troconis' behavior on the day Jennifer Dulos vanished as normal, not nervous or distressed. Duperron, whose native language is Spanish, also said Troconis had fires going year-round.
“It was a relaxing moment, like maybe not to heat the house but a good moment to share with someone drinking wine or tea, something like that,” Duperron testified.
"Would there sometimes be a fire even when it was still warm outside?” asked defense attorney Audrey Felsen.
“Yes,” Duperron replied.
But during cross-examination, the prosecution pointed to Duperron’s refusal to speak with police years ago about the case.
“I didn't refuse to speak with them. I said if they want, they can subpoena me so I could go and talk with an interpreter,” Duperron stated.
“Actually, isn't it true you indicated you would be happy to answer any questions you have for me via email?” Assistant State’s Attorney Michelle Manning shot back.
“Yes, because I felt more comfortable also because of my language. It's easier for me to write than to speak,” Duperron said.
Manning brought up that Duperron claimed at the time that she had information that would hurt the state’s case and prove Troconis’ innocence.
“You felt you had information that could help your friend, correct?” Manning asked.
“Yes,” Duperron responded.
“Your ‘inseparable, beautiful friendship?’” Manning pressed.
“Yes,” Duperron said.
“And five years since 2019 and three years since you've been contacted by the police, you kept that to yourself?” Manning asked.
“Yes, because I didn't trust the police,” Duperron said, adding that she would never go to the media with it. Duperron didn’t reveal what the information was while on the stand.
Duperron was one of dozens of witnesses the jury heard from during 25 days of evidence from the prosecution and two days from the defense. About 200 exhibits were also presented.
All of that is now being combed through as jurors deliberate whether the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Troconis is guilty of the six charges she’s facing. Troconis is charged with conspiracy to commit murder, hindering prosecution, two counts of conspiracy to commit evidence tampering and two counts of evidence tampering.
Jennifer Dulos was last seen on May 24, 2019. She vanished amidst a contentious two-year custody battle with her estranged husband, Fotis Dulos. Troconis was his live-in girlfriend at the time. Investigators believe the two plotted to kill Jennifer Dulos, with Fotis Dulos violently attacking his wife in her garage, then disposing of her body, which has never been found. Troconis is also accused of helping him cover up the crime, by getting rid of evidence and lying to police. That included giving Fotis Dulos a false alibi.
During closing arguments Tuesday, the defense described Troconis as an innocent girlfriend who didn't know anything about what Fotis Dulos was planning. He died by suicide in January 2020 while facing murder and other charges in the case. Troconis is the first of the remaining co-defendants to stand trial.
“Whatever Fotis Dulos did is not for or because of Michelle. It is not with her. Fotis put up a facade until his last poisoned breath, and he did it without ever acknowledging his actions or admitting his role to his own children,” argued defense attorney Jon Schoenhorn.
But the prosecution went through dozens of instances that suggested Troconis' possible involvement and asked the jury if they were all really just coincidences or proof of her guilt. Assistant State’s Attorney Sean McGuinness described Jennifer Dulos’ disappearance as a story with three acts.
“The first act was the premeditation and killing of Jennifer Dulos. The second act was the cover-up through the destruction of evidence and the defendant's lies. And now we've reached the third act. Except she doesn't get to write it. You do. You write the third act of this script with your verdict. What's the ending going to be?” McGuinness asked.
Closing arguments drew large crowds on Tuesday, but Wednesday was much quieter with lots of media still but fewer spectators.

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