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Jurors in ‘Fitbit murder’ trial convict man of killing wife

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VERNON, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut man was convicted Tuesday of murder in the 2015 killing of his wife — a case built partly on evidence provided by her Fitbit exercise activity tracker.

A jury in Rockville Superior Court found Richard Dabate guilty of all three charges — murder, tampering with evidence and making a false statement to authorities — following a five-week trial and on the second day of deliberations. The murder charge carries up to 60 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 16.

Court marshals handcuffed Dabate and led him out of the courtroom after Judge Corinne Klatt increased his bond to $5 million. He had been free after posting $1 million bail following his arrest.

Dabate’s lawyer, Trent LaLima, said an appeal of the convictions is planned.

“I think we put on a very strong case for why Rick did not commit this offense,” he said outside the courthouse after the verdicts were announced.

Wayne Rioux, a spokesperson for Connie Dabate’s family, said justice prevailed with the convictions of Richard Dabate.

“The trial was not about Fitbit,” he said. “The trial was about the cold-blooded, planned murder of Connie Margotta Dabate. … There will be no closure for the Margotta family, but there is finally justice for Connie.”

Dabate maintained his innocence and testified that a large masked man with a voice like actor Vin Diesel and dressed in camouflage shot his wife, Connie Dabate, and tied him up at the couple’s Ellington home in December 2015.

Police said information on Connie Dabate’s Fitbit contradicted her husband’s story and showed she was moving around an hour after he said she was killed.

Prosecutor Matthew Gedansky said in his closing argument that Dabate hatched a plan to kill his wife and stage a home invasion as his life was about to unravel with the birth of a child he was having with another woman.

LaLima questioned the reliability of the data from the Fitbit tracker, saying the devices were not designed with the accuracy needed for court testimony.

LaLima also pointed to unknown DNA that was found in the Dabates’ home, including on the gun that killed Connie, and testimony from a house cleaner, who said they may have seen a dark green figure move past the window around the time of the crime.

A jury was picked for the case in early 2020, before state courts shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. A judge dismissed that jury last August, saying it had been empaneled too long and some jurors had moved out of state, and a new panel was selected beginning in late February.

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