ROCKVILLE, Conn. (WTNH) — A jury in Rockville Superior Court convicted a man in the 2015 killing of his wife in a case built partly on evidence provided by her Fitbit exercise activity tracker.
After a five-week trial and on the second day of deliberations, Dabate was found guilty of murder, tampering with physical evidence, and making a false statement in the shooting death of his wife, Connie, on Dec. 23, 2015.
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 maintained his innocence and testified that a large masked man dressed in camouflage shot his wife and tied him up at the couple’s Ellington home. Prosecutors said evidence from the Fitbit activity tracker worn by Connie undermines Dabate’s story and showed she was moving around an hour after he said she was killed.
Wayne Rioux, a spokesperson for Connie’s family, said while there will never be closure, there is finally justice for her.
“Connie was a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a cousin, a friend, a colleague, but most importantly, she was a loving and devoted mom to her sons RJ and Connor,” Rioux said. “The trial was not about Fitbit. 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.”
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.
The prosecutor also posed questions to the jury to consider, such as: if there was a home invasion, why was nothing stolen? Why was Connie killed, but Dabate was spared? Why did investigators find no signs of forced entry or exit trails from their home on Birch View Drive?
Dabate’s lawyer, Trent LaLima, questioned the reliability of the data from the Fitbit tracker, saying the devices were not designed with the accuracy needed for court testimony and called the police investigation inadequate.
“Police made up their mind, and they’re working backward from there,” LaLima said. “There’s been a lot of evidence, hundreds of exhibits, and tons of things to sift through.”
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 “very large” and “dark green” figure move past the window around the time of the crime. She couldn’t say for certain if it was a person or possibly an animal like a deer.
The jury heard testimony from about 130 witnesses and looked at more than 600 pieces of evidence before considering the three charges separately.
“I thought we put on a very strong case for Rick as to why he was not guilty of this offense,” LaLima said outside the courthouse after the verdicts were announced. “We’re very disappointed with the outcome here, but it’s not the end of the road.”
Dabate’s defense team confirmed to News 8 that they will appeal the verdict.
The murder charge carries up to 60 years in prison. Dabate is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 18.
The video below is from a News 8 newscast on May 9, 2022.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.