Kids of Connecticut mom Jennifer Dulos give emotional statements; Michelle Troconis gets 14.5 years

Troconis was found guilty of charges including conspiracy to commit murder.

May 31, 2024, 3:43 PM

Michelle Troconis, who was convicted of helping her boyfriend, Fotis Dulos, cover up the murder of his estranged wife, Jennifer Dulos, was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison, with execution suspended after 14 1/2 years, as well as five years of probation. Troconis' lawyer said they will appeal.

Prosecutors asked for a sentence of 45 years.

Before the sentencing, Judge Kevin Randolph listened to emotional victim impact statements from Jennifer Dulos' children, friends and family, as well as pleas for mercy from Troconis and her relatives.

Petros Dulos, who was 13 when his mother died in May 2019, told the court, "I've been left with a hole inside of me I know I will never be able to fill."

"My mother was everything to me. But during the divorce, I became very bitter with everyone around me, especially mom, because she was always trying to help me," he said. "This meant that I hurt the person closest to me because I didn't know how else to voice my pain. The defendant's actions mean I will never be able to tell my mom how sorry I am for not being a better son when she needed me. I will never be able to tell mom how proud of her courage I am. Most importantly, how much I love her. This fact haunts me every day."

An undated photo of Jennifer Dulos and her son Petros is shown on the screen while Petros Dulos speaks during the sentencing for Michelle Troconis, May 31, 2024, in Stamford, Conn.

Petros Dulos said Troconis, a mother herself, "has desecrated" the meaning of the word mother.

The case began on May 24, 2019, when Jennifer Dulos, a Connecticut mother of five, disappeared amid a contentious custody dispute with her estranged husband, Fotis Dulos.

Jennifer Dulos, 50, of Connecticut, is pictured with her five children in an undated family photo.
Family of Jennifer Dulos

Prosecutors alleged Fotis Dulos killed his estranged wife in her garage, and Troconis, his live-in girlfriend, helped him cover up evidence.

On March 1, Troconis was found guilty of all counts against her: conspiracy to commit murder, tampering with physical evidence, conspiracy to commit tampering with physical evidence and hindering prosecution. On Friday, the judge threw out one of the counts of conspiracy to commit evidence tampering.

Michelle Troconis listens as a verdict of guilty on all counts is read on the final day jury deliberation for her criminal trial at Connecticut Superior Court in Stamford, Conn., March 1, 2024.
Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP, Pool, FILE

At trial, police testified that surveillance footage showed Fotis Dulos driving, with Troconis in the passenger seat, in Hartford later on the day Jennifer Dulos vanished, with Fotis Dulos making stops to throw out alleged evidence in trash cans, the Hartford Courant reported. In court, jurors were shown zip ties, gloves and stained clothing prosecutors said were pulled from the trash cans.

Prosecutors said Troconis also helped her boyfriend with an alibi and helped him clean a truck believed to have been used in the crime, according to The Stamford Advocate.

Troconis maintained her innocence, with the defense arguing Troconis never denied being in the car with her boyfriend, but she did deny having any involvement in or any knowledge of crimes Fotis Dulos may have committed.

Fotis Dulos died by suicide in January 2020, weeks after he was charged in Jennifer Dulos' murder.

In this Jan. 8, 2020 file photo, Fotis Dulos, center, the estranged husband of missing mother of five, Jennifer Dulos, is arraigned on murder and kidnapping charges in Stamford Superior Court in Stamford, Conn.
Erik Trautmann/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP, Pool, FILE

Christiane Dulos, who was 10 when her mother died, said in court that after her parents separated, she asked her dad about cheating on her mother. She said Fotis Dulos responded, "When you really love somebody, sometimes you can't wait."

"This affair was why my mom took us and left, why she cried at night and why we were no longer a family," she said. "From then on, Michelle was a part of my life with my dad. Later on, my dad told us that Michelle was not allowed to be around us anymore, and that if we wanted to keep seeing her, we could not tell mom that Michelle was at our visits."

Overcome with emotion, Christiane Dulos said, "Michelle Troconis, to me, is the reason I feel completely lost and alone on nights when I cannot sleep. She's the reason why I blocked out my childhood and that day so much I can barely remember it. She's the reason kids at school look at me with pity, the reason my teachers say 'guardians' and not 'parents.'"

"The reason I've had to sit on the bathroom floor with my little sister and try my best to comfort her. She's the reason I had to visit my dad at the hospital knowing what he did and knowing he chose to leave us," she said. "She's the reason I no longer feel I have a real beginning, a home to always come back to, parents I will always belong to."

An undated photo of Jennifer Dulos and her daughter Christiane is shown on the screen while Christiane Dulos speaks during the sentencing for Michelle Troconis, May 31, 2024, in Stamford, Conn.

Christiane Dulos said she can only feel her mom's presence through memories, her mom's writings and stories from her grandmother and Jennifer Dulos' friends.

"I hold onto these moments of her life knowing it should be her telling me these stories," she said.

Theodore Dulos, who was 13 at the time of his mother's death, said in court Friday, "My life now is nothing like it used to be. I no longer have my mother, my hero. I'll never talk to her again. I'll never do my homework with her again. I'll never ask her for advice again."

"Michelle, you caused this damage," he said. "You not only knew about, but conspired, to murder a daughter, sister, friend and mother of five kids. That day you took away five children's source of comfort, our protector. You showed no remorse and you've yet to show any."

Jennifer Dulos' body has never been found but a judge has declared her legally dead.

Theodore Dulos asked Troconis to reveal what happened the day Jennifer Dulos vanished and the location of Jennifer Dulos' body.

"I'll never forgive you ... and until you give us more answers, you'll be considered evil, violent and most definitely a coward," he said.

The children's nanny, Lauren Almeida, said after Jennifer Dulos' disappearance, she put her own goals on hold and left her career, family, friends and relationship in Connecticut to help care for the kids.

"My relationship ended, I lost the place I called home, I've lost friends and time with my family. I had to rethink what my life would be like now that I had five kids to help look after," she said in court.

"These kids have become my whole world and they've taught me what unconditional love is," she said, overcome with emotion.

The Dulos family's nanny Lauren Almeida speaks during the sentencing for Michelle Troconis, May 31, 2024, in Stamford, Conn.

Almeida said Troconis "took away the most genuine, thoughtful, funny and kind person I have ever met. She took away a mother who sang silly songs to her kids, who was always there when they fell to lift them back up."

She said the kids' feeling of safety and security is gone.

Almeida speculated about Troconis' motive.

"To take Jennifer's place? Because you could never," she said. "To live this lavish lifestyle Fotis promised? We'll never know, because I believe Michelle will never be honest."

"We don't even have the comfort of knowing where [Jennifer Dulos] is," Almeida said. "Where is she, Michelle?"

Noelle Dulos, who was 8 when her mother died, said she's now constantly terrified something bad will happen to her loved ones.

"I feel betrayed by Michelle," she said. "I remember trusting her. I don't understand how she could be so selfish and it scares me to put my trust in other people."

Jennifer Dulos "only wanted to give and to get love, and to be a loving mother," her mother, Gloria Farber, said at the sentencing hearing. "She lived in fear of her life. In fear that her husband might abduct her children."

Gloria Farber, Jennifer Dulos' mother, speaks during the sentencing for Michelle Troconis, May 31, 2024 in Stamford, Conn.

"Every year we honor Jennifer on her birthday -- Sept. 27, 1968," her mother said in court Friday. "On that day in September, her children, her sister, her friends and I cross the street from my apartment and we walk to Central Park carrying purple balloons -- Jennifer's favorite color. We sit on benches, and, using markers, we write messages to her. Then we let the balloons go."

"Jennifer filled her children with love, wisdom and humor," she said. "Jennifer would have been very proud of her children's accomplishments. They will always have their memories of her, as do I."

Petros Dulos added in court, "I'm upset that I will never know the man I could have become if my mom was still here to guide me. She was my hero. And now I often feel lost without her comforting smile and her meaningful discussions."

"I wish she could see me mature from a boy to a young man. I wish I could hug mom again," he said. "But I can't now."

Troconis briefly addressed the judge herself on Friday, saying through tears, "I am deeply saddened by this tragedy that has affected so many lives. I found out things before and during trial about a man, Fotis Dulos, I thought I knew and loved. I deeply regret ever being in a relationship with Fotis Dulos. ... I will continue to pray for those who suffered and still suffer."

Troconis' daughter, Nicole, 17, spoke to the judge in her mother's defense, expressing her love for her mom and her trust in her.

"She's my best friend, my rock and my guiding light," Nicole said.

"I am begging you ... I need my mom in my life," she wept.

Troconis' father addressed the court, describing her as a compassionate woman who was devoted to her daughter.

Dr. Carlos Troconis asked the judge for mercy, saying "she could continue to be a valuable member of society, providing care and restorative therapy to children and adults."

Michelle Troconis' mother, Marisela Arreaza, wept, saying her daughter misplaced trust in her boyfriend.

Michelle Troconis listens during her sentencing, May 31, 2024, in Stamford, Conn.

A sister, Daniela Troconis, said Michelle Troconis was her biggest supporter.

Michelle Troconis has an "unwavering dedication to helping those in need," and even over the last five years "remains there for me," she said.

Through tears, Daniela Troconis said to the judge, "I am begging you to consider Michelle's many positive contributions to the community,"

Another sister, Claudia Troconis, described Michelle Troconis as the pillar of their family.

"She would never intentionally harm anyone," she said.

"My sister is a loving and exceptional human being who unfortunately fell in love with the wrong man," Claudia Troconis said.

Troconis' pastor, the Rev. Christopher Solomini, spoke in court on her behalf, saying Troconis was a church volunteer who he would trust with his life.

"Empathy and compassion are at the center of her being, in my estimation," he said.

"Michelle was always especially affirming and loving to young children, and genuinely affectionate to all," he said.

"I've heard her prayers for Jennifer and her children," he added.

Fotis Dulos' friend and former lawyer, Kent Mawhinney, is also accused of helping cover up the crime. He pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and is awaiting trial.