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Connecticut Man Gets 65 Years For Killing Wife In Case Known As The 'Fitbit Murder'
Richard Dabate was convicted and sentenced to spend 65 years behind bars for the 2015 murder of his wife, Connie Dabate, in a staged home invasion her Fitbit data helped prove false.
A Connecticut man was sentenced to 65 years behind bars for killing his wife after her Fitbit data contradicted his account of the morning she was killed.
Richard Dabate, 46, was convicted in May of killing his 39-year-old wife Connie Dabate just two days before Christmas in 2015 in what has known become known nationally as the “Fitbit Murder.”
Judge Corinne Klatt handed down the 65-year-sentence on Thursday for what she described as a “brutal, calculated” and “incomprehensible act” carried out at the very hands of the man who had once “vowed to love and protect” Connie, according to the Hartford Courant.
Richard Dabate — who had claimed his wife died after an intruder broke into their home — received 60 years for his wife’s murder and another five years for tampering with evidence.
“I thought that was appropriate and just,” Connie’s brother Keith Margotta said after the sentence, according to CT Insider. “It enables us to get a little bit of closure — although nothing will bring Connie back.”
Richard Dabate’s attorney, Trent LaLima, has said his client, who continues to maintain his innocence, is planning to appeal.
Connie was killed the morning of Dec. 23, 2015. Her husband later told police he had unexpectedly returned home that day around 9:00 a.m. after forgetting his laptop and discovered a masked intruder dressed in camouflage inside their Ellington, Connecticut home — about 18 miles northwest of Hartford.
He'd claimed the man had a voice like actor Vin Diesel and shot Connie in the basement of the home. Dabate also claimed the intruder then tied him to a metal folding chair in the kitchen and stabbed him, but that he was able to escape the man by burning him with a torch. He was discovered by police and firefighters laying on the kitchen floor, still tied to chair.
However, it was later discovered that Dabate was having an affair and his mistress was pregnant — and that Connie had been shot with one of her husband’s guns, according to CT Insider.
Authorities were able to use data from Connie’s Fitbit, computers, house alarm logs and cell phone data to show that her husband’s account of that morning did not match the evidence left behind.
Although Dabate claimed he arrived back at the house to find the intruder around 9:00 a.m. and the murder unfolded shortly thereafter, Connie's Fitbit had recorded 1,217 feet of movement between 9:18 a.m. and 10:05 a.m.. She had also been active on Facebook between 9:40 and 9:46 a.m., according to a warrant in the case previously obtained by People.
The 22-day trial included 600 pieces of evidence and testimony from more than 100 witnesses — including Dabate himself, who continued to insist that his wife had been killed by an intruder set on robbing the couple.
He told authorities that the masked intruder had taken his wallet and forced him to hand over the PIN numbers for his bank cards, but investigators discovered the wallet intact in the yard of the home and found no indication anything else had been taken.
Connie’s mom, Cindy Margotta, said in court Thursday that Connie had called her shortly before her murder.
"The first thing she said on the phone was 'Mom I love you,'" Cindy Margotta said according to WTIC-TV. "You're my best friend. And I said — I didn't know what was going on — I said 'I love you too and you're a good friend of mine.'"
Her daughter went on to say that she was calling to tell her that “Rick is a mess today.”
It was the last phone call they’d ever have. Connie is now haunted by thoughts about whether she could have said something different that day or convinced her daughter to come to her home for breakfast.
State’s Attorney Matthew C. Gedansky said Thursday that he believed Dabate killed his wife because he was afraid his mistress’ pregnancy would come to light and thus he devised a “selfish, cowardly evil plan” to eliminate his wife so he wouldn’t have to go through a divorce and public humiliation.
“The evidence in this case was strong and it was made even stronger by the defendant’s motive,” Gedansky said after the sentencing in a written statement to CT Insider. “With the judge’s sentence today, Connie’s family and friends are now able to get some measure of justice for her senseless murder. Mr. Dabate will now be held responsible for this cold and heinous act.”
Connie’s family described the anguish those in her family, and particularly the couple’s two sons, have endured in the years since her murder.
Connie’s sister, Leslie Garabedian — who is now raising the two boys, now ages 13 and 15 — said that, as a result of their father’s tall tale, the boys had lived in fear that a stranger could break into their home, and are only now struggling to come to terms with their father's role in their mother’s death, according to the Hartford Courant.
Before the sentence was handed down, Dabate addressed the court and continued to proclaim his innocence.
“I will never stop seeking justice for my wife Connie who I love and think of every day, and I will never stop seeking justice for myself,” he said.
For Connie’s family, the lengthy sentence brought some measure of peace to the heartbroken family.
“I just feel like a surge from up above,” Cindy Margotta said. “I just feel the strength coming to me right now.”