FARMINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — The decision over whether Jennifer Farber Dulos can legally be declared dead now rests with a Farmington Probate Court Judge.
Representatives for Jennifer’s mother Gloria Farber, as well as Farber Dulos’s five children and court-appointed administrators for her estranged husband’s, Fotis Dulos‘, estate, are asking the judge to declare that Jennifer died the day she went missing.
Part of their request is based on an arrest warrant where State Police detectives and the Chief Medical Examiner say forensic evidence shows Jennifer was attacked injured so badly there’s no way she would have survived on the day she went missing.
But sparks flew Thursday when the attorney for one of the codefendants in the case, Michelle Troconis, raised concerns about whether the facts of the warrant are accurate.
“I just can’t imagine these children want the court to make a specific finding that their father killed their mother,” said Troconis’ defense attorney Jon Schoenhorn in court.
“This is going to be an excuse for some sort of media frenzy,” replied attorney Richard Weinstein, who represents Jennifer’s mother.
Weinstein says what’s at stake for the family is closure.
“All of these are issues the children have to deal with and they’re emotional. I just would hope the judge would get to the point where she can grant this motion so we can get some resolution,” he said, “It’s an alternate reality to think Jennifer Dulos is alive. She’s dead. And she died in May of 2019.”
But Schoenhorn is concerned that any decision which may be based on an arrest warrant he’s attacking as flawed in criminal court could bias a future jury. The judge is considering a formal evidentiary hearing with witnesses who would take the stand. That could open up State Police detectives, the medical examiner, or others to cross-examination.
“I think it’s my obligation to my client to make sure that if there’s going to be such a ruling then at least base it on actual evidence and not speculation and hearsay by a single police detective,” said Schoenborn. “I am not 100% certain that a decree from a probate judge that a person is deceased is not going to find its way into the record. I guarantee you that a clever lawyer would try to get it in if they were trying to prove someone was dead.”
The probate court hearing lasted nearly three hours and began with a review of foreclosure proceedings and property disbursements as administrators settle Fotis Dulos’ estate.
Under state law, a person typically has to be missing for seven years before they’re assumed dead. Farber Dulos has been missing for a year and a half. A declaration of death would allow administrators to settle Farber’s estate, about $195,000 in an IRA retirement fund.
Judge Evelyn Daly is deliberating. No timeline was given on when a decision could come down.