Missing mom Jennifer Dulos declared dead ahead of trial for suspect
Criminal defense attorney Jonna Spilbor joins ‘America’s Newsroom’ to discuss the trial beginning for the woman accused of a murder coverup.
A Connecticut judge on Wednesday dismissed an alternate juror in the Michelle Troconis trial after the juror apparently told an assistant state’s attorney, “We love you,” in passing.
The incident happened during a lunch break in the trial on Wednesday. Troconis is accused of conspiring to murder Jennifer Dulos, a Connecticut mother of five and the estranged wife of Troconis’ boyfriend Fotis Dulos, in May 2019.
Assistant State’s Attorney Elizabeth Moran and Supervisory State’s Attorney Michelle Manning were waiting for an elevator when it opened, revealing a court marshal and two alternate jurors assigned to the case. Both attorneys turned around, at which point Juror No. 420 apparently said, “Thanks, Liz. We love you.”
“Upon learning that the comment was made… by one of the jurors, the court conducted an inquiry calling that juror to the courtroom and having that juror sit in the jury box,” Judge Kevin Randolph said on Wednesday afternoon. “The court asked the juror if he made that comment… directed at both attorney Moran and attorney Manning.”
MICHELLE TROCONIS, SUSPECT IN JENNIFER DULOS MURDER COVER-UP, SEEN SHUTTLING PEOPLE TO AIRPORT DURING TRIAL
Judge Kevin Randolph dismissed an alternate juror in the Michelle Troconis trial Wednesday. (Umar Abassi for Daily Mail/Pool)
The juror admitted that he did make the comment and that it could be perceived as an endorsement of the state’s case, Randolph explained.
“The court explained to the juror that the appearance that there was a favorable opinion of the state’s case indicates to the court at this time that it would be difficult to proceed with him seated as a juror because of the impartiality and fairness of that juror can reasonably be questioned,” Randolph said, adding that juror No. 420 had officially been dismissed.
JENNIFER DULOS CASE: POLICE BODYCAM FOOTAGE SHOWS POSSIBLE BLOOD IN GARAGE DURING MICHELLE TROCONIS’ TRIAL
Michelle Troconis is on trial for allegedly covering up the murder of boyfriend Fotis Dulos’ ex-wife in 2019. (Umar Abassi for Daily Mail/Pool)
Wednesday’s proceedings also included testimony from Jennifer’s nanny, Lauren Almeida, who was watching four of Jennifer’s children when she vanished on May 24, 2019, after dropping her children off at school.
She had been married to Fotis for 13 years when she filed for divorce. Almeida said she knew about the divorce and Fotis’ affair with Troconis in 2017.
JENNIFER DULOS DECLARED DEAD AHEAD OF TRIAL FOR SUSPECT WHO BROKE DOWN IN NEWLY SURFACED INTERROGATION VIDEO
Jennifer Dulos’ estranged 52-year-old husband, Fotis Dulos, and his girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, were charged in connection with her death in 2019.
“We told the police that a mother of five was missing and that she was in a very contentious divorce,” Almeida testified. “And I knew that [Fotis] had purchased a gun, and so I was afraid.”
Troconis was dating Fotis Dulos at the time of Jennifer’s death and is charged with conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit evidence tampering, evidence tampering and hindering prosecution. Dulos was declared dead earlier this month, but her remains have yet to be found.
JENNIFER DULOS CASE: TIMELINE OF CONNECTICUT MOTHER’S DISAPPEARANCE, DEATH
Jennifer Dulos disappeared from her New Canaan home in May 2019 after dropping her children off at school. (New Canaan Police Department)
Fotis, Troconis and Fotis’ civil lawyer, Kent Mawhinney, were each charged with conspiracy to commit murder, and all three suspects denied having any involvement in Dulos’ death. Fotis was released on $6 million bond, and Troconis was released on $2 million bond.
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Shortly after the charges were filed against him, Fotis died by suicide. He was hospitalized for days due to carbon monoxide poisoning before he was pronounced dead.
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Troconis has maintained her innocence in the case, insisting she did not know what was going on when Fotis disposed of garbage bags from his truck while she sat in the passenger seat after Jennifer disappeared. She also claims she does not know anything about a written timeline of their activity that day that police obtained as evidence.
Audrey Conklin is a digital reporter for Fox News Digital and FOX Business. Email tips to [email protected] or on Twitter at @audpants.