Although posthumous trials have precedent globally and historically, that is not case in the state of Connecticut (or really anywhere in the U.S.), where attorney Norm Pattis is attempting to clear the name of his deceased client Fotis Dulos.
In case you missed it, accused murderer Dulos was confirmed dead on Thursday evening, two days after a carbon monoxide poisoning suicide attempt at his home initially had major news outlets reporting he died. But Pattis, known for being controversial, was undeterred and adamant about proceeding to trial–somehow.
“Mr. Dulos was tried and convicted in the court of public opinion. Now he has been executed. We remain committed to demonstrating he did not kill Jennifer,” Pattis told Law&Crime on Thursday. What did he mean by this? According to the Hartford Courant’s Dave Altimari, Pattis is trying to “in effect have a murder trial without a defendant,” which is “unprecedented in state history.”
Altimari said that Pattis filed a motion to keep the criminal case against his deceased client alive. In it, Pattis said he was honoring Dulos’s wishes. He also blamed the media for convicting Dulos in the court of public opinion. Therefore, he asked the court to let the Dulos estate clear him of the murder of Jennifer Dulos.
Law&Crime Network anchor Aaron Keller notes that there is a “dearth of authority in Connecticut and elsewhere in the U.S. on the concept of a posthumous or post-mortem criminal trials.”
And local defense attorneys dismissed the Pattis motion out of hand.
“This is Norm Barnum trying to keep the greatest show on earth going,” attorney Matthew Maddox told News 12 Connecticut.
Before he died, Dulos was charged with capital murder, murder, kidnapping in the first degree, tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution in connection with the disappearance and presumed death of his estranged wife Jennifer Dulos. Her body has not been found. She went missing after dropping off her five children at school on May 24, 2019. Authorities have no doubt that she was the victim of a violent crime, but Pattis claims that is not the case–and so did Dulos until his death.
Despite a mountain of circumstantial evidence against him, Fotis Dulos denied having anything to do with Jennifer Dulos’s disappearance. He even did a TV interview, during which he said he was “worried” about her. Jennifer and Fotis were going through an ugly divorce, and she said that she feared him. She once claimed he tried to hit her with a car. The defense had considered going with a “Gone Girl” theory that Jennifer had staged her disappearance and framed Fotis for murder.
Fotis Dulos’s ex-girlfriend Michelle Troconis still faces charges of conspiracy to commit murder, tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution. Kent Mawhinney, a lawyer who represented his friend Dulos in a lawsuit filed by Dulos’s mother-in-law Gloria Farber, has also been charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
In recent days, Fotis Dulos was accused of violating his bail conditions by removing items from a Jennifer Dulos memorial. Pattis claimed the memorial was meant to taunt his client. Dulos was under house arrest, and a emergency bail-related hearing was scheduled for Tuesday at noon. Dulos never made it to that hearing.
Police conducted a welfare check and found him unresponsive at home. Dulos was rushed to one hospital and then flown to another in critical condition, but he died at 5:32 p.m. on Thursday.
[Image via the Law&Crime Network]
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