A Connecticut man was sentenced to spend what is likely to be the remainder of his life in prison for the 2015 murder of his wife.
Richard Dabate, 45, was sentenced to 65 years in prison without the possibility of parole. The sentence was a combined punishment: 60 years for murder and five years for tampering with evidence.
The condemned man was convicted by Rockville County jurors in May of this year in the so-called “Fitbit Murder Case,” where data from an electronic body-monitoring device undermined his version of events following the death of 39-year-old Connie Dabate, who was killed on the morning of the day before Christmas Eve in December 2015.
During trial, prosecutors showed that the deceased woman’s Fitbit data showed she was alive and moving well after her husband claimed she was dead. That incongruity, the state argued, was part of the defendant’s efforts to murder his wife and blame it on a home invader.
As for motive, law enforcement argued, apparently successfully, that Richard Dabate faced the prospect of his life unraveling before his eyes as his marriage was on the rocks and his longtime friend – and then-recent mistress – was due to give birth to their child.
“Time is moving on,” State’s Attorney Matthew C. Gedansky told jurors. “The pressure is mounting, the baby is coming, and the defendant’s worst fears are going to be realized.”
The defendant was charged in April 2017 with murder, tampering with evidence, and making a false statement to police. He remained free for several years after posting $1 million bail and had been co-parenting the child in question with Sara Ganzer since 2019.
In her own testimony, Ganzer said she had no plans to “blow up” the Dabate family. The other woman also testified that she and the defendant had never discussed violence against Connie Dabate and that he had never admitted to killing his wife.
Richard Dabate has consistently maintained his innocence.
To hear the defendant tell it, he came home late in the morning to pick up his laptop when he found a masked man upstairs who robbed him, chased the victim into the basement and shot her, and then zip-tied the husband to a chair and stabbed him. The defense also pointed to unknown DNA at the home and on the gun used in the murder.
Richard Dabate said the attacks occurred around 9 a.m. on the day in question. Prosecutors said Connie Dabate’s Fitbit showed her moving for an hour after that. During trial, the defense argued that Fitbit data is not entirely accurate. But jurors sided with the state.
Family members of the victim praised the punishment.
“I just feel like this surge from up above, the strength coming to me right now for all of us, Cindy Margotta, Connie Dabate’s mother, said in comments reported by New Haven, Conn.-based ABC affiliate WTNH. “She’s here.”
“It enables us to get a little bit of closure, even though it won’t bring Connie back,” Keith Margotta, Connie’s Dabate’s brother added. “As a family, we can move forward.”
An attorney for the defendant said his client wasn’t done fighting during a brief press conference after the sentencing.
“I know today was a very difficult day for everybody in that courtroom, no matter what side you’re on or what your role was, it was a very emotional day,” defense attorney Trent LaLima said. “As Rick Dabate said in the court today, he is completely steadfast in his innocence and dedicated to proving his innocence. Today was the close of just the first chapter of litigation in this case. We are going to continue to fight with the appeal. We look forward to continuing to fight for Rick Dabate. And we are confident, that in the end, Rick Dabate will prevail.”
[image via screengrab/WFSB]
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