Michelle Troconis trial: Woman convicted of helping boyfriend cover up Connecticut wife's murder

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(NEW YORK) -- Michelle Troconis, who stood trial in connection with the disappearance of Jennifer Dulos, her live-in boyfriend's estranged wife, has been found guilty on all counts.

Troconis was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, tampering with physical evidence, conspiracy to commit tampering with physical evidence and hindering prosecution.

"We have lost a mother, daughter, sister, cousin, and cherished friend," Carrie Luft, a spokeswoman for Jennifer Dulos' family and friends, said in a statement Friday.

Luft said the "verdict represents the meticulous collection, analysis, and presentation of evidence to illuminate an unconscionable series of crimes."

"That immense body of evidence also serves to highlight the gaps that remain in this case -- most important, that Jennifer Farber Dulos still has not been found," Luft said. "It is our hope that the resurgent public interest in this case might spur new, viable leads."

Jennifer Dulos, a Connecticut mother of five, disappeared on May 24, 2019, during a custody dispute with her estranged husband, Fotis Dulos. Her body has never been found but a judge has declared her legally dead.

Fotis Dulos died by suicide in January 2020, weeks after he was charged in Jennifer Dulos' murder. Prosecutors allege Fotis Dulos killed his estranged wife in her garage on May 24, 2019.

At Troconis' trial, the jury saw interrogation video in which Troconis admitted to lying about seeing Fotis Dulos at their home on the morning Jennifer Dulos vanished, New Haven ABC affiliate WTNH reported.

"I have no idea where Jennifer is, and that's 100%," Troconis said in the interrogation video, according to WTNH. "I just know that I went as the stupid girlfriend to help him out, because he told me, 'Come and clean the house,' and I did."

"[Fotis Dulos] told me Jennifer is a monster," Tronocis said in the interrogation video, according to WTNH. "He hated her."

Police testified that surveillance footage showed Fotis Dulos driving, with Troconis in the passenger seat, in Hartford later on the day Jennifer Dulos vanished, with Fotis Dulos making stops to throw out alleged evidence in trash cans, the Hartford Courant reported. In court, jurors were shown zip ties, gloves and stained clothing prosecutors said were pulled from the trash cans.

Defense attorney Jon Schoenhorn said Troconis never denied being in the car with her boyfriend, but said that she denied having any involvement in or any knowledge of crimes Fotis Dulos may have committed.

In closing arguments, prosecutor Michelle Manning reminded the jury of the garage where investigators believe Fotis Dulos killed his wife and the blood-soaked items thrown in the trash.

"There's blood spatter throughout the garage, throughout the undercarriage of two cars, footprints and swipes of blood," Manning said. "Her blood-soaked shirt and bra thrown out ... along with zip ties, sponges and duct tape. Make no mistake: This was a deliberate, intentional murder."

"Jennifer is dead. And Fotis and Michelle Troconis intended that to happen. They agreed to work together to make it happen," Manning said. "This trial is very simple: It's about a conspiracy and about a cover-up. It's about Michelle Troconis' actions and about how she and Fotis Dulos conspired together to murder the woman who was standing in their way. It's about the frustration of Fotis Dulos not seeing his kids ... and every time those kids came around, Michelle Troconis had to leave her home ... and we know she was sick of it."

"The frustration turned to anger and hatred," Manning told the jurors. "Listen to her own words in the [police] interviews -- how she describes Jennifer -- someone she has never met. She describes her as manipulating, angry, toxic."

Schoenhorn, the defense attorney, stressed in closing arguments, "Whatever Fotis Dulos' role was in the disappearance -- and I'll say the likely death of Jennifer Dulos -- Michelle Troconis did not know. She did not know that Fotis Dulos planned to harm her."

"There's nothing to suggest that Michelle would even think that Fotis was capable of doing anything like that," Schoenhorn said.

"This is not Fotis Dulos' trial," he continued. "Because it's Michelle Troconis' trial, [to convict her] you must find beyond a reasonable doubt that Michelle conspired with Fotis Duos, not just to cause harm to Jennifer Dulos, but to murder her."

To convict her, he told the jury, "You have to find beyond a reasonable doubt, various elements that Michelle was part of a plot to get rid of evidence -- some microscopic, some in opaque garbage bags -- but that she knew what was in it, knew its purpose. And what she did was the same exact intent as whatever Fotis Dulos had planned."

After the verdict, Paul Ferencek, state's attorney for the Stamford/Norwalk Judicial District, said in a statement, "While it's our hope that today's verdict brings Jennifer's family and friends some peace, we also hope that someday we can provide resolution to the still unanswered question of where Jennifer rests. I assure you the State of Connecticut and this office will never stop looking."

Schoenhorn said Troconis was "devastated" by the verdict.

"We are certain that she is innocent," Troconis' sister, Josie, added.

Bond was set at $6 million cash surety. The judge granted additional conditions requested by the state: house arrest, electronic monitoring and surrendering her passport.

Troconis' sentencing is set for May 31.

Jennifer Dulos' mother now has custody of the five Dulos children, who were ages 8 to 13 in May 2019, according to The Associated Press.

Kent Mawhinney, Fotis Dulos' friend and former lawyer, is also accused of helping cover up the crime. He pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and is awaiting trial.

ABC News' Jason Volack contributed to this report.

Friday, March 1, 2024 at 2:25PM by Emily Shapiro, ABC News Permalink