ROCKVILLE, Conn. (WTNH) – It’s known as the ‘Fitbit murder,’ and on Monday, that Fitbit was brought up in the trial of Richard Dabate, who is accused of killing his wife, Connie, at their Ellington home in 2015.
That Fitbit recorded Connie’s movements and it’s a key piece of evidence in this trial. On Monday, an expert on these devices testified in the trial.
The Fitbit has been critical to the case as Connie was wearing it on the day she died. It’s being used specifically to establish a timeline and to dispute Dabate’s version of what happened that day.
On the day Connie was killed, investigators found she was wearing a Fitbit on her waistband. That activity tracker recorded data, including the number of steps she took leading up to her death on Dec. 23, 2015.
Investigators say those records show she was moving until 10:05 a.m. that day, which is when they believe she was murdered in the basement of her Ellington home.
Investigators say that data contradicts the timeline provided by Dabate who says, about an hour earlier, he was confronted by a masked intruder at their house. That’s when Dabate said Connie returned home from the YMCA in Ellington not long after and was killed.
“We’ve seen now, in multiple cases, that the device can be helpful in confirming timelines or refuting timelines because we can tell when a person is moving or not moving,” said Dr. Keith Diaz from Columbia University Medical Center.
Her Fitbit shows she was moving around for longer than that.
During court on Monday, an expert on the devices, who has studied Fitbits, specifically the Fitbit that Connie was wearing, spoke on the accuracy of these devices.
“We found that if you wore the Fitbit on your hip, it was near perfect at measuring how many steps you took while walking and jogging within one to two steps of being perfect when we compared, we counted a person’s steps,” Diaz said.
Dabate’s defense team says the timeline, provided by the Fitbit, could be off based on when the device synched to her phone.
“I asked the questions I asked. I think you were all in there. You know the questions I asked, and the answers we got. I’m going to let that speak for itself,” said Trent LaLima, Dabate’s defense attorney.
Diaz also says that the data shows she wasn’t taking many steps leading up to her death, which typically indicates “light” activity, but Dabate’s attorney argued in court that doesn’t mean she wasn’t running in short spurts, going up and downstairs, jumping, or wrestling with an intruder.
“The device could tell you intensity of exercise or movement, so was it light, moderate, or vigorous, but that data wasn’t made available for today’s case,” Diaz said.
Connie’s mother, Cindy Margotta, also testified Monday. She told the jurors that when she spoke with her daughter the day she died, Connie seemed “stressed” and made an appointment to see a psychotherapist. When asked why this appointment was made, Margotta said Connie claimed it was because “Rick [Dabate] was a mess.”
Meanwhile, those who interacted with Connie at the YMCA in Ellington, where she was the morning of her murder, described her mood as “cheery” as she discussed plans for the upcoming Christmas holiday.