STAMFORD — A lawyer representing Michelle Troconis, who is charged in the death of Jennifer Dulos, is seeking for the entire Norwalk-Stamford State’s Attorney’s Office to be removed from the case for an alleged violation of attorney-client privilege.
In a motion filed Tuesday, Jon Schoenhorn, Troconis’s attorney, claims state prosecutors “deliberately violated” his client’s Sixth Amendment rights “through its knowing and intentional invasion of the attorney-client privilege.”
According to the motion, the alleged violation relates to Schoenhorn using a third-party attorney to present detectives in the case with a sweatshirt that he claims may be used in the defense of his client since it apparently contained a hair with the DNA of Pawel Gumienny, a former employee of Fotis Dulos.
Schoenhorn said he provided the evidence to attorney Tara Knight, who is now a Superior Court judge and said at the time that she was unable to reveal the name of the person who had given her the sweatshirt, citing attorney-client privilege.
Detectives, however, later examined the box and found a letter stating Schoenhorn had provided Knight with the evidence.
In the motion, Schoenhorn also asks a judge to consider changing the venue for the trial and to remove state police’s Western District Major Crimes Squad from the case, among other stipulations. A judge previously denied an earlier motion from Schoenhorn that requested the case be moved to Hartford.
Paul Ferencek, chief state’s attorney for the Norwalk-Stamford Judicial District, declined to comment on Schoenhorn’s motion to remove his office from the case on Tuesday.
Schoenhorn’s request is tied to a motion filed last week by prosecutors to have him disqualified from the case because he may be called as a witness to discuss the sweatshirt.
“The state’s motion to disqualify … quotes directly from the privileged letter,” Schoenhorn wrote in the motion.
In her motion seeking his disqualification, Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney Michelle Manning said Schoenhorn has refused to tell prosecutors where he obtained the sweatshirt. However, she said Schoenhorn has claimed he may use the sweatshirt in the defense of his client.
“Even if Schoenhorn is not ultimately called as a witness, he can still be disqualified since his performance as an advocate can be impaired by his relationship to the events in question,” said Manning, who later added that the jury may consider Schoenhorn to have a “nefarious” motive and “hold it against his client.”
In his response, Schoenhorn called Manning’s attempt to have him disqualified a “wholly meritless and outrageous effort” to violate his client’s constitutional rights. Schoenhorn also called Manning’s assertion that he needs to testify “absolutely baseless” as “there is nothing that defense counsel can testify to in the state’s case that in any possible way advances the search for truth.”
Gumienny has not been charged with a crime. He has acknowledged that Fotis Dulos used his truck on the day of the homicide and told investigators he believed his boss may have been trying to frame him for the murder.
Fotis Dulos died by suicide in January 2020 while facing murder and other charges in the death and disappearance of his estranged wife.
Police believe Fotis Dulos used Gumienny’s Toyota Tacoma pickup truck to drive to New Canaan on the morning of May 24, 2019, and then biked to his estranged wife’s home where he attacked her when she returned from dropping off their five children at school, arrest warrants stated.
Arrest warrants stated Fotis Dulos then used her Chevy Suburban to move her body to where he had parked Gumienny’s truck near Waveny Park. Jennifer Dulos has never been found, but she has been presumed dead by police and her family.
On the night of the disappearance, police said Troconis was seen on surveillance video in Fotis Dulos’ pickup truck as he made a series of stops in Hartford. Police said Fotis Dulos was dumping trash bags in bins along Albany Avenue. Police said they later recovered some of the bags, which contained Jennifer Dulos’ blood and clothing.
Manning contends in her motion that Schoenhorn discussed introducing the sweatshirt as evidence if she brought up in court that Fotis Dulos was captured on surveillance cameras riding a vintage bike to his estranged wife’s house.
Schoenhorn turned the sweatshirt over in 2021. But it wasn’t until he threatened to use the item as evidence that Manning filed her motion to have him disqualified from representing Troconis in the case.
Troconis, who is free on bond while being monitored by a GPS device, has also pleaded not guilty to tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution.
Schoenhorn’s motion and the state’s motion to disqualify him are expected to be heard at state Superior Court in Stamford on Nov. 29.
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Michelle Troconis, who has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in the Jennifer Dulos case, appears in court at the Connecticut Superior Court in Stamford, Conn. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022.Tyler Sizemore/Hearst Connecticut Media