Trial begins for Michelle Troconis, alleged co-conspirator in disappearance of Jennifer Dulos

The trial is expected to last six weeks.

Associated Press

Jan 11, 2024, 1:35 PM

Updated 193 days ago

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The opening moments of a murder mystery were shown to a Connecticut jury on Thursday, as a police officer testified about responding to a missing person report involving a mother of five and finding what appeared to be blood in her garage.
The missing person was Jennifer Dulos, 50, who vanished from the wealthy town of New Canaan after dropping her children at school on the morning of May 24, 2019. Although her body has never been found, police concluded she was killed and pointed the finger at her estranged husband, Fotis Dulos, who died by suicide in early 2020 weeks after being charged with murder.
Fotis Dulos' girlfriend at the time, Michelle Troconis, went on trial Thursday in Stamford Superior Court. A six-member jury will determine whether she helped Fotis Dulos cover up the killing after the fact. She denies the allegations and has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit murder, evidence tampering and hindering prosecution.
The case drew widespread attention and was the subject of a made-for-TV movie. Jennifer Dulos was a member of a wealthy New York family whose father, the late Hilliard Farber, founded his own brokerage firm. Fotis Dulos was a luxury home builder originally from Greece.
Troconis, 49, has described herself as a co-founder of horse riding therapy programs in different parts of the world who once had her own TV production company in Argentina and hosted a snow sports show for ESPN South America.
The trial opening did not include opening arguments, which are not required under state law.
After Judge Kevin Randolph gave the jury instructions, New Canaan police Lt. Aaron LaTourette took the witness stand and described responding to Jennifer Dulos' home the day she disappeared and finding what looked like blood droplets on an SUV in the garage and on the floor. Also on the floor was a partial footprint and a pinkish-reddish area that appeared smeared.
“I looked at the vehicle and noticed that there was what appeared to be red blood on the font of that vehicle,” LaTourette said, adding that officers first surmised it could have been a deer strike. But there was no damage and no hairs, he said.
Police allege Fotis Dulos waited for Jennifer Dulos to return home that morning, attacked her in the garage and tried to clean up the scene. He then drove off with her body in another SUV, which was later found abandoned at a local park. At the time, they were going through contentious divorce and child custody proceedings, with Fotis Dulos' contact with the children having been limited.
Fotis Dulos, who was living with Troconis in Farmington, denied having anything to do with Jennifer Dulos' disappearance.
Troconis also says she had nothing to do with the killing and insists she did not help cover it up. She arrived at court in the morning with her lawyer and relatives. During the trial, she sat at the defense table wearing a beige sweater, black turtleneck and black pants. She wore earphones linked to a Spanish interpreter.
The jury was shown about 20 minutes of police body camera footage that offered one of the first public glimpses of the crime scene. The video showed LaTourette and another officer searching the house for Jennifer Dulos in response to the missing person report.
The trial is expected to last about six weeks.
Among the evidence expected to be shown to the jury is police surveillance video of Fotis Dulos and Troconis driving around Hartford later in the day that Jennifer Dulos vanished. Fotis Dulos is seen getting out of his pickup truck and disposing of garbage bags as Troconis sits in the vehicle.
Police said they later recovered some of the bags and found clothing, zip ties and other items with Jennifer Dulos' DNA on them. One of the bags had Troconis' DNA on it, police said.
Troconis told police she did not know what was in the bags. She said she thought they were from a home Fotis Dulos was trying to sell.
Prosecutors Michelle Manning and Sean McGuinness are also expected to show the jury what police dubbed “the alibi script” — a document they say Fotis Dulos and Troconis prepared that detailed their actions and locations on the day of the killing and the day after. Troconis told police that Fotis Dulos' lawyer had asked them to list their activities on those days.
Fotis Dulos' friend and lawyer, Kent Mawhinney, also was charged with conspiracy to commit murder. He has pleaded not guilty and awaits trial. He also is accused of helping to cover up the killing after the fact.
The Dulos children, who ranged in age from 8 to 13 when their mother disappeared, went to live with Jennifer Dulos' mother in New York City afterward.


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