Troconis Trial - Day 2: Focus on presumptive blood evidence

Troconis is accused of conspiring with her former boyfriend to kill his estranged wife.

Marissa Alter

Jan 12, 2024, 10:37 PM

Updated 131 days ago


Presumptive blood evidence was the focus of day two of Michelle Troconis' trial in the disappearance and presumed death of Jennifer Dulos nearly five years ago. Troconis is accused of conspiring with her former boyfriend, Fotis Dulos, to kill his estranged wife, then helping him try to hide the crime.
Testimony on Friday began with the prosecution calling Sgt. Jamie Pearston, a member of the Connecticut State Police Western District Major Crimes Squad. The unit responded to Jennifer Dulos’  home on Welles Lane in New Canaan after she was reported missing on May 24, 2019. Pearston said she was in charge of mapping the garage where police found suspected blood stains.
“I documented and measured any items of evidentiary value or items utilized for blood stain pattern analysis,” Pearston testified, saying the map was made to memorialize the crime scene.
Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney Michelle Manning pulled up the map during her testimony, along with pictures of the garage, and had Pearston explain them. She said investigators divided the garage into different zones to review potential evidence.
Pearston also testified she was involved in processing Jennifer Dulos’ black Chevy Suburban, which was found abandoned on Lapham Road outside Waveny Park. Pearston noted the SUV had weather tech liners in the front and back, but there wasn’t one in the trunk.
She was the only witness during the morning court session after both sides clashed about whether the jury could hear about presumptive blood testing at the crime scene. Defense attorney Jon Schoenhorn filed a motion to preclude testimony on it, calling the test “junk science.”
“There is a chemical spray that police use in investigations. I can say it's sort of like fairy dust, right? They spray aerosol, and if it glows, one of the things it might show is blood. But things like bleach, rust, paint, turpentine—there’s probably 50 or 100 things that also glow with a black light,” Schoenhorn said.
He spoke with media outlets outside the Stamford courthouse after court recessed for lunch early so Judge Kevin Randolph could review the case law.
“What you have to understand is the Supreme court of Connecticut has said that chemical is so unreliable that it has no value to put it into the case,” Schoenhorn told reporters.
He also said the tests would confuse the jury and be unfairly prejudicial to his client, making the jury think there was more blood than there actually was at the scene and in the Chevy Suburban.
After the recess, Randolph ruled the prosecution could present tests of stains that came back presumptive for blood, partly because additional tests were later done by a lab, confirming or disputing blood.
Manning called retired Connecticut State Police Sgt. Matthew Reilly, who oversaw evidence collection at Jennifer Dulos’ home. Reilly testified about finding a print on the doorknob from the garage into the house and lifting the print.
The jury was also shown pictures of a paper towel roll in the kitchen where Reilly said he discovered blood-like stains on the outside and on cardboard tube. Reilly explained he then did a presumptive test for blood, which caused Schoenhorn to immediately object.
Randolph said the issue would have to be discussed outside the jury’s presence, so the jury was let go for the weekend. Reilly then answered Manning’s questions for the judge.
Day two of Troconis’ trial made it clear why the trial is expected to last six weeks. There will likely be plenty of defense motions and objections that will hold up testimony. In addition, the prosecution appears to be making its case brick by brick, which takes time.
Jennifer Dulos was last seen dropping her five kids off at school. When she returned home, Fotis Dulos was allegedly lying in wait and killed her, then disposed of her body, which has never been found. The estranged couple was in the midst of a contentious divorce and custody battle.
But Fotis Dulos will not stand trial. He died by suicide in January 2020 shortly after being charged with murder. Troconis was his girlfriend back then and is now the first of two alleged accomplices to have her case heard by a jury. She’s charged with conspiracy to commit murder, evidence tampering, conspiracy to commit evidence tampering and hindering prosecution. Troconis has denied all allegations.
In the first two days of testimony, there's been no mention of her name. “I think it's going to be quite a while, and that's all I’m going to say right now,” Schoenhorn said. “This isn't like ‘Law and Order,’ ‘CSI’ where the case wraps up in an hour, right? During jury selection we were very clear that it's going to take a long time. There is some circumstantial evidence about what actually happened. The state has the burden of proof and we're going to hold them to that.”
Kent Mawhinney, Fotis Dulos’ friend and former attorney, was also arrested in the case. Mawhinney is charged with conspiracy to commit murder and has pleaded not guilty.

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