VERNON — A Superior Court judge today ruled on several motions in the trial of Richard Dabate that will bar certain evidence from being presented to the jury.
Although the jury could not hear about it, the prosecutor revealed new information during the closing arguments.
Dabate, 45, was charged in April 2017 with murder, tampering with physical evidence and misrepresentation in connection with the December 23, 2015 death of his wife, Connie.
Dabate told state police on the day of the murder that a masked intruder killed Connie and also attacked and tied him up at their Ellington home.
State police and the prosecutor said Dabate staged his wife’s murder as a home invasion to avoid fallout from a divorce because he was expecting a baby with one of his mistresses.
Dabate’s trial began on April 4, and testimony for the first two weeks has largely documented the scene at Dabates’ Birch View Drive home. At the end of last week, the woman who was pregnant with Dabate’s child at the time of his wife’s death testified.
Today, prosecutor Matthew Gedansky said Dabate embezzled $35,000 from his employer. Gedansky didn’t say exactly when it happened, but said the state learned of the act about three years ago through a search warrant.
Gedansky said Dabate took money from an account used by his employer and transferred it to another account he opened, and made it look like the money was being used for business expenses so that he really wasn’t.
Dabate’s attorney, Trent LaLima, objected to the information being allowed into the trial, and Judge Corinne Klatt concluded that it would amount to having a “trial within the trial” and barred him from admission.
Klatt also banned almost all testimony related to a second long-term affair that Gedansky said Dabate had during his marriage.
LaLima argued that allowing testimony about the relationship would only inflame the emotions of the jury. There is no evidence the case was ongoing or impacting Dabate’s life at the time his wife was killed, he said.
Gedansky argued that it was up to the jury to decide whether the relationship was a factor or not. However, Klatt ruled that when the woman is called to the stand, she can only be asked if she had a previous relationship and when it ended, without going into further details.
After the motions were eliminated, the jury was brought into the courtroom and Laurie Gardner was called as a witness. Dabate’s cousin Gardner testified how Dabate confided in her at a party in the summer of 2015 about Sara Ganzer, the woman who was pregnant with his child.
Gardner said Dabate worried about what other members of his family would think when they found out and feared he was a “black sheep” in the family. At the time, Dabate had not yet made a decision regarding Connie’s divorce, Gardner said.
Gardner also opened up about an interaction she had with Dabate the night Connie was killed. She was with her mother, Dabaté’s aunt. Dabaté came from the hospital, still wearing a hospital gown and bleeding. Dabate was upset, she said.
“He cried a lot. We all did it,” Gardner said.