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Michelle Troconis convicted of murder conspiracy in disappearance of Jennifer Dulos

Michelle Troconis listens as a verdict of guilty on all counts is read on the final day jury deliberation for her criminal trial at Connecticut Superior Court in Stamford, Conn. March 1, 2024.
Ned Gerard
/
Hearst Newspapers
Michelle Troconis listens as a verdict of guilty on all counts is read on the final day jury deliberation for her criminal trial at Connecticut Superior Court in Stamford, Conn. March 1, 2024.

A woman was convicted Friday of conspiring to murder Jennifer Dulos, a mother of five who vanished from a wealthy Connecticut enclave in 2019 and was never found.

Michelle Troconis, 49, was found guilty by the Stamford jury following a lengthy trial in which prosecutors laid out a case that she helped her then-boyfriend, Dolus' husband, to plot and cover up the killing of his estranged wife as they battled each other in divorce and child custody proceedings.

Fotis Dolus, who denied the allegations, never stood trial himself: He killed himself in January 2020 shortly after being charged with murder.

Friends and family of Jennifer Dulos, including the her children's nanny, left the courthouse without speaking to reporters.

In the courtroom Friday, Troconis sat with her head down and cried as the jurors were polled to confirm they agreed with the verdict. She later rested her head on the table and could be heard sobbing before marshals cuffed her and led her from the courtroom.

In addition to the conspiracy to commit murder charge, which is punishable with up to 20 years in prison, the jury convicted Troconis of hindering the prosecution and evidence tampering. Her bond was set at $6 million and she is scheduled to be sentenced May 31.

She is also set to be back in court Tuesday for a hearing on whether she should be held in contempt over allegations that she displayed a portion of a sealed report on her laptop at the defense table during the trial.

Jennifer Dulos, 50, vanished on May 24, 2019, after dropping off their five children at school. At the time, she was living with the children in New Canaan while Fotis Dulos stayed in the family’s spacious home about 70 miles (115 kilometers) away in Farmington. Troconis and her daughter were living with Fotis Dulos at the time.

The case drew widespread attention and was the subject of a made-for-TV movie, Lifetime’s “Gone Mom.”

Jennifer Dulos was a member of a wealthy New York City family whose father, the late Hilliard Farber, founded his own brokerage firm. She also was a niece by marriage of fashion designer Liz Claiborne. Fotis Dulos built luxury homes and was originally from Greece.

Troconis, a dual American and Venezuelan citizen, 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.

Police alleged that on the morning of Jennifer Dulos' disappearance, Fotis Dulos drove his employee’s pickup truck to a New Canaan park, rode a bicycle to her house, attacked her in the garage and drove off with her in her Chevy Suburban, which was later found abandoned at the park.

Although her body has never been found, a judge declared her legally dead last October. A medical examiner also concluded that evidence from the garage, including suspected blood spatter, indicated she could not have survived such an attack.

Hours after Jennifer Dulos disappeared, Troconis was seen on surveillance video accompanying Fotis Dulos on a trip to Hartford, where he discarded trash bags from the back of his own pickup truck. Police later found some of the bags after seizing Fotis’ Dulos cellphone, looking at its location data and obtaining the surveillance video from the locations.

In one of the trial’s most jarring moments, the prosecution and state forensic experts showed a shirt, bra and zip ties with blood-like stains on them that were found in one of the bags. The experts testified that DNA samples from the items were a highly likely match to Jennifer Dulos’ DNA.

They also said DNA and fingerprints on some of the items and bags were a highly likely match to Fotis Dulos, and DNA that was a highly likely match to Troconis was found on one of the bags.

The jury watched nearly seven hours of police interviews with Troconis on three different days, which showed her saying she didn’t know what was in the garbage bags.

She said she thought it was unusual that Fotis Dulos was throwing the bags away in Hartford, but not too unusual that he was discarding trash at random places, because he had done it before with materials from his developments.

In court, Troconis’ lawyer also argued that her likely DNA was found only on a microscopic sample from one of the bags, and that Fotis Dulos could have had spread it there after having contact with Troconis.

Prosecutors said Troconis lied to police during her first interview by saying Fotis Dulos was at his Farmington home when she woke up on the morning Jennifer Dulos disappeared. She acknowledged during a subsequent interview that was not accurate.

Her lawyer said Troconis may have had trouble understanding police because the interviews were in English while her primary language is Spanish. Police said, however, that she didn’t request an interpreter and didn’t seem to have trouble understanding them.

The prosecution also showed the jury timelines Troconis and Fotis Dulos wrote detailing their locations and activities on the day Jennifer Dulos vanished. Troconis told police she only did that at the request of Fotis Dulos and his lawyer.

Prosecutors said Fotis Dulos left his cellphone at his house on the morning of Jennifer Dulos’ disappearance and that Troconis answered it later in the morning when one of his friends called, suggesting an attempt to provide an alibi.

Troconis denied that allegation and told police she answered the phone at the urging of Kent Mawhinney, a friend of Fotis Dulos and his one-time lawyer in a civil case.

Police testified that Troconis accompanied Fotis Dulos to a car wash to get his employee’s truck cleaned and detailed, in what prosecutors alleged was another act of evidence tampering.

Mawhinney is also awaiting trial on a murder conspiracy charge in Troconis' disappearance. He has pleaded not guilty.

Dulos’ children, including two sets of twins, ranged in age from 8 to 13 when their mother disappeared. Jennifer Dulos’ mother has had custody of the children ever since.

___

Associated Press writer Susan Haigh contributed to this story.

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