A Connecticut man was convicted on Tuesday of murder and other charges related in connection to the 2015 slaying of his wife.
Richard Dabate, a 40-year-old from the town of Ellington, was convicted by a jury on Tuesday on all chargesâfirst-degree murder, tampering with physical evidence, and providing a false statementâin the 2015 death of his wife, Connie Dabate thanks to data from Connie's Fitbit that undercut a story he made up to cover up the crime.
Richard Claimed a Masked Intruder Fatally Shot Connie, Stabbed Him
In statements to police and in court, Richard claimed Connie was fatally shot by a masked intruder after asking her for their credit cards and PIN numbers on Dec. 23, 2015.
He said the intruder then led him into the kitchen, stabbed him in the legs with a boxcutter and subsequently rendering him immobile by zip-tying him to a chair. While tied down, Richard said he managed to grab a blowtorch and burned the intruder's face, who then fled the scene.
However, neighbors testified that despite being nearby, they did not see a masked man during the alleged home invasion. Richard's story completely fell apart after investigators subpoenaed Fitbit for the data from Connie's fitness tracking device.
Connie's Fitbit Data Contradicted Richard's Story
Richard told investigators that he left the house at 8 a.m. on the day of the murder to drop his kids to school and then returned around 8:30 a.m. to put on a "work shirt." He claimed he saw Connie backing her car out of the driveway as he returned, and that she was headed to a spin class at the local YMCA. However, the class was canceled, so Connie went back home.
At some point during his 40-minute commute to the office, Richard said he realized he had forgotten his laptop, so he turned around and drove home. When he arrived between 8:45 and 9 a.m., he claimed he heard a noise upstairs, which he assumed was the cat. He then claimed he was "manhandled" by an intruder, and heard Connie walk in while he was getting roughed up.
He then heard two shots, and that after the supposed intruder tied him up, he freed himself, pressed a panic button linked to the couple's home alarm system, and called 911.
Richard claimed his wife was murdered at 9:05 a.m, but Connie's Fitbit, phone data, and surveillance footage placed her at the YMCA, which she did not leave until 9:18 a.m. Her Fitbit also showed she was casually walking at 9:27 a.m. and gave no indication she was ever running from an attacker as Richard claimed. Her last detected movement was at 10:05 a.m.
The data combined together would mean Connie was alive and well for roughly an hour after Richard said he had witnessed her death. Police K9 units detected no other human scents in the home.
Richard Killed Connie After Having Impregnating Another Woman
During the five-week trial, Richard was described by prosecutors as "a ticking time bomb" who had painted himself into a romantic corner. Detectives discovered that Dabate had impregnated his mistress, Sara Ganzer. The two first met in junior high school, and began a physical relationship in May 2015, Ganzer testified. About a month later, Ganzer said she found out she was pregnant.
In court, Richard testified that he was in love with two women and didn't know what to do. To cover his tracks, he told his wife lies about working late and playing cards with friends. With Ganzer, Richard continued to insist he was about to file for divorce. He told his buddies that he had gotten Ganzer pregnant during a one-night stand, and told police that she was carrying a child for him and Connie as a surrogate.
Prosecutors argued that Richard killed Connie because he did not want to lose friends or have his reputation harmed by a divorce. He also worried about the financial implications of splitting from his wife, as well as having to deal with working out custody arrangements for the couple's two children.
Shortly before Connie was killed, she and Richard spent a "romantic weekend" together in Vermont, he testified. But when Connie posted photos of the trip on Facebook, Ganzer saw them and realized her lover was not in the midst of divorcing his wife, as he had promised. The only way out for Richard, prosecutors argued in court, was to get rid of Connie.
Despite the mountain of evidence stacked against him, Richard continued to maintain his innocence throughout the trial. In Connecticut, murder carries a prison term of up to 60 years. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 16.