A judge on Friday dismissed a juror in the trial of a Connecticut woman accused of helping her boyfriend cover up the murder of his estranged wife, after the panelist likened the case to the novel and movie “Gone Girl.”
Judge Kevin Randolph received an unsigned note from a juror in the trial of Michelle Troconis Friday morning, accusing another member of the panel of making the comment in the presence of other jurors.
The juror “discussed something about the case and it was all over social media,” Randolph said the note read. “Said it was like ‘Gone Girl' — a brief mention. Several other jurors said, ’Don't discuss this.' "
Randolph then cleared the courtroom to question jurors about the comment. He ultimately dismissed the juror, identified only as “Juror 186," who acknowledged making the “Gone Girl” comment, the judge said.
“Every (other) juror indicated that they would be able to afford the state and defense a fair and impartial trial,” Randolph said after reconvening the trial.
“Gone Girl,” a 2012 novel by Gillian Flynn that was turned into a 2014 film starring Ben Affleck, is about a woman who fakes her own disappearance and her husband, who becomes a suspect.
Troconis, 49, is charged with conspiracy to commit murder and other crimes on allegations that she helped her then-boyfriend, Fotis Dulos, cover up the killing of his wife, Jennifer Dulos, in 2019. Troconis has pleaded not guilty and denied any involvement.
Police believe Fotis Dulos attacked his wife in the garage of her home in New Canaan, Connecticut, in May 2019, after she dropped off the children at school. Then, authorities said, he drove off in her own SUV with her body, which has never been found. Fotis Dulos denied having anything to do with her disappearance. He died by suicide in early 2020, shortly after being charged with murder.
Testimony on Friday focused on the patterns of what police said appeared to be blood stains that had been cleaned from the garage of Jennifer Dulos' home.
At the time she vanished, Jennifer and Fotis Dulos were going through a contentious divorce and child custody proceedings that had limited his time with the children. Jennifer Dulos had moved out of the family home in Farmington, Connecticut, and Fotis Dulos was living there with Troconis and her daughter.
The case drew widespread attention and was itself the subject of a made-for-TV movie, titled “Gone Mom.” Jennifer Dulos, 50, was a member of a wealthy New York family whose father, the late Hilliard Farber, founded his own brokerage firm. She also was a niece by marriage of fashion designer Liz Claiborne. Fotis Dulos was a luxury home builder originally from Greece.
This is the second case of alleged juror misconduct in the trial. On Wednesday afternoon, Randolph dismissed an alternate juror who reportedly said “We love you” to two prosecutors, both involved in the case, outside the courtroom during a lunch break. Randolph said the comment gave the appearance of favoring the prosecution.
The trial now has three alternates remaining, along with six regular jurors.