ROCKVILLE, Conn. (WTNH) — The trial for an Ellington murder case that gained national attention began Tuesday.
Richard Dabate is accused of killing his wife Connie back in December of 2015, two days before Christmas, at their Ellington home. At the time, he told police someone had broken into their house, shot and killed her in front of him, then burned him and tied him up before taking off.
A police canine unit, however, did not detect any presence of anyone else in the home at the time. Later, data from Connie’s Fitbit indicated she was moving around for an hour after Dabate said she was killed, contradicting what he told police, which was that she was shot right after she returned home.
That evidence gained this case national attention.
“The Fitbit tracker that she was wearing on her hip indicates that she was moving around the house for nearly an hour before movement stopped,” said Timothy Ronan, co-chair of the Litigation Department at Quinnipiac University Law School, where he teaches electronic discovery and digital evidence.
“Unlike human memories, digital evidence doesn’t fade,” Ronan said. “Unlike human testimony, digital evidence isn’t altered or swayed by emotion or bias.”
But he said it is not infallible.
“It’s subject to attack and then it’s up to the jury to decide who wins over that fight of the Fitbit evidence,” Ronan said.
In Ellington, they say they just want this trial to start and the case to be resolved.
“It upset a lot of people and like I said, he had two children and they were in school, so that affected them too. Everybody was upset. Even people who don’t know him felt sorry for the family. We just want it resolved,” said Lori Spielman, Ellington’s first selectwoman.
Neighbor Steve Horbachuk said, “the whole story was very unusual.”
“Right after it happened, he was at local restaurants and eating with his family, and frankly, it’s concerning,” Horbachuk said.
There will be no cameras in the courtroom Tuesday. The judge says the room in which it is taking place has a small chamber in the rear of it where a camera can be put. However, it cuts across the jury box and jurors cannot be shown.
The judge says there are no other locations in the courtroom that would not disrupt the trial or impede privacy.