A Connecticut man has been found guilty of killing his wife after impregnating another woman nearly seven years ago, and a Fitbit is the main reason police were able to identify him as a suspect!
On Tuesday, jurors in Rockville Superior Court found Richard Debate guilty of all three charges against him — murder, tampering with evidence, and making a false statement to authorities, according to the Associated Press. This came after a 5-week trial in which prosecutors theorized that he killed his wife Connie Dabate, 39, so that he could avoid a possible divorce after getting another woman pregnant.
The devastating death occurred six years ago on December 23, 2015. At the time, Richard claimed that a 6-foot-2-inch intruder broke into their home, tortured him, and shot and killed Connie, according to an arrest warrant obtained by People.
According to the husband, he took his two sons to the bus stop but then returned home to get a “work shirt.” He left for work at around 8:30 a.m. and his wife was still there getting ready for a fitness class at the YMCA. Data on her Fitbit showed that she left the home at 8:46 a.m. Richard then claimed he returned home at around 9 a.m. because he forgot his laptop. He also received a text alert that his house alarm had been activated. Via his arrest warrant, he claimed he encountered a masked intruder in all camouflage (including gloves). This person supposedly “manhandled” him and even began torturing him with a blowtorch while he was tied down to a chair. He also claimed that he was stabbed with a boxcutter.
Dabate told police that he had started to fight the intruder when they heard Connie arrive home. He warned her to run, but the intruder followed her into the basement. As Richard ran after them, he fell down the stairs and claimed to hear a gunshot. He then couldn’t hear Connie for about five minutes. Once the intruder left, he crawled upstairs, pressed a panic button, and called 911 at around 10:11 a.m. When police arrived, he only had “minor injuries” despite that gruesome story.
But a year after the incident took place, officers found inconsistencies with the husband’s tale and data found on Connie’s Fitbit — leading them to discover Richard was allegedly lying!
Using information from the woman’s Fitbit, both their cell phones, computers, and house alarm logs, police were able to pick some holes in Richard’s story. Via their investigation, they learned that Richard logged into a computer at his house at 9:01 a.m. and emailed his work supervisor at 9:04 a.m. to say that an alarm had gone off at his home and he needed to go back and check on it, an arrest warrant detailed.
Connie’s Fitbit also registered movement inside the home at 9:23 a.m. and she was active on Facebook between 9:40 a.m. and 9:46 a.m., posting videos to her page via her iPhone. Also, the last recorded distance on her fitness device was 1,217 feet tracked between 9:18 a.m. and 10:05 a.m., proving that she was still alive after Richard said she had been killed. The distance between her car to the basement — had she entered the home during a break-in, as her husband claimed — would also be no more than 125 feet, according to the warrant. Wow!
Eventually, during an interrogation with detectives, Richard admitted to having an extramarital affair that resulted in a pregnancy, but he did not specify whether or not Connie was aware of the affair or pregnancy, the doc added. A jury was originally selected at the start of the COVID-19 shutdown, but the case was put on pause throughout the pandemic. After restarting earlier this year, this has no doubt been a tumultuous situation (and few years) for Connie’s family and friends, who are pleased that the jury has finally come to a decision in their favor. Her brother Keith Margotta said outside the courthouse according to the Journal Inquirer:
“It’s a weight lifted off my shoulders. But it’s bittersweet. Everything kind of hits home. Everything that we went through, and tried to put behind us six years ago, is right in front of us right now.”
Reflecting on his reaction after hearing the verdict, he continued:
“I felt like I was gonna hit the floor. I was in shock.”
A spokesperson for Connie’s family, Wayne Rioux, added:
“The trial was not about Fitbit. The trial was about the cold-blooded, planned murder of Connie Margotta Dabate. … There will be no closure for the Margotta family, but there is finally justice for Connie.”
Richard was ordered to be held in jail following the verdict (he had previously been free of police custody). He was given a $5 million bond. He is scheduled to be sentenced on September 16 and now faces 60 years behind bars. That said, his attorney, Trent LaLima, plans to appeal.