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Michelle Troconis set for sentencing in death of Jennifer Dulos

Family and friends of Jennifer Dulos, who disappeared from her Connecticut home in 2019, are expected to offer emotional testimony Friday as her late estranged husband’s former girlfriend is sentenced after being convicted of helping to plan and cover up her killing.

Michelle Troconis, 49, faces up to 50 years in prison.

Prosecutors say Dulos’ estranged husband, Fotis Dulos, killed her at her home in New Canaan and drove off with her body, which has never been found. He died by suicide in 2020 shortly after being charged with murder. He had denied killing his wife.

Troconis was Fotis Dulos’ girlfriend and lived with him at the time Jennifer Dulos vanished. Troconis was convicted by a jury in March of conspiracy to commit murder, hindering prosecution and evidence tampering.

Troconis, 49, insists she is innocent and intends to appeal her convictions. She remains detained at the state women’s prison. Her family and friends, who were angry and heartbroken after she was convicted, are also expected to testify during Friday’s hearing.

Family and friends of both Jennifer Dulos and Troconis have prepared statements for the court ahead of the sentencing. It wasn’t clear which of them will testify, possibly including the Dulos’ five children, now ages 13 to 18.

The sentencing comes five years and one week after Jennifer Dulos disappeared after dropping the five children off at school on May 24, 2019.

Fotis and Jennifer Dulos
Fotis and Jennifer Dulos in an undated photo 

Sotiria Kontouli

 

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

The background of the people central to the case

Jennifer Dulos was a member of a wealthy New York City family whose father, the late Hilliard Farber, founded his own brokerage firm, Hilliard Farber & Co., after running Chase Manhattan Bank’s bond trading desk. She also was a niece, by marriage, of fashion designer Liz Claiborne.

“We miss her every day, in every way,” some of her relatives and friends said last week in a statement released by Dulos’ friend, Carrie Luft. “For us, five years is not a milestone but a marker of cumulative loss and longing. Life goes on, yet grief goes on alongside it, a shadow, a current, the presence of absence.”

Troconis, a dual American and Venezuelan citizen, has described herself as a co-founder of horse riding therapy programs who once had her own TV production company in Argentina and hosted a snow-sports show for ESPN South America. Fotis Dulos was a luxury home builder originally from Greece.

Her lawyer, Jon Schoenhorn, did not return messages seeking comment. When Troconis was convicted in March, he said he couldn’t understand how the jury could have reached guilty verdicts.

Troconis’ family, including her parents and sisters, expressed the same disbelief.

“Choosing and putting my sister as the guilty person is not the right thing to do because she is innocent,” Claudia Troconis-Marmol said tearfully outside the courthouse shortly after the convictions.

An alleged motive and the floated alibis

Authorities suggested Fotis Dulos killed Jennifer Dulos because of growing frustrations he had with their divorce and child custody proceedings.

At the time, Jennifer Dulos was living with the children in New Canaan while Fotis Dulos stayed in the family’s 10,000-square-feet home about 70 miles away in Farmington.

Hours after Jennifer Dulos was last seen alive, Troconis was recorded on surveillance video accompanying Fotis Dulos on a trip to Hartford, where he discarded trash bags from the back of his 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 most jarring moments in Troconis’ trial, 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 trash bags. Testing showed that DNA on the items was highly likely that of Jennifer Dulos.

Troconis told police she didn’t know what was in the bags or why Fotis Dulos was dumping them in Hartford.

Prosecutors also said Fotis Dulos left his cellphone at his home on the day Jennifer Dulos vanished and Troconis answered a call to it from his friend that morning. They say that was evidence Troconis was in on the plot and tried to help him create a bogus alibi. She denied the allegation.

Another defendant in the case, Kent Mawhinney, a friend of Fotis Dulos and his one-time lawyer in a civil case, is awaiting trial on a murder conspiracy charge. He has pleaded not guilty.

Although Jennifer Dulos’ body has never been found, a probate judge declared her legally dead last year. The Dulos children have been in Jennifer Dulos’ mother’s custody in New York City since she vanished.

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