Fotis Dulos, the Connecticut man accused of murdering his estranged wife Jennifer Farber Dulos, was declared dead on Thursday after a suspected suicide attempt, but his lawyer intends to move forward with the criminal trial "to clear his name."
After he missed a court appearance on Tuesday, law enforcement officers found Dulos unresponsive in an SUV inside his garage in Farmington, Connecticut, in a suspected suicide attempt with carbon monoxide. He was taken to UConn Health in Farmington on Tuesday afternoon and later transported to Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, where his lawyer Norm Pattis held a press conference Thursday to announce his death.
"His family came in from Greece and decided today to donate his organs so he will live on in some form in the assistance he can provide to others in their own individual struggles," Pattis said in the press conference.
Dulos was out on bond after he was arrested January 7th on charges he murdered his estranged wife Jennifer Farber Dulos, who has not been seen since May 24th. The two had been going through a protracted divorce and custody battle over their five children. Her body has not been found, and her mother Gloria Farber has been granted custody of the children.
Pattis said he wants to press ahead with the criminal trial despite his client's death, and has asked the state of Connecticut to allow Dulos's estate to be a substitute defendant in the trial because "his family is adamant his name be cleared."
"We have filed an unusual motion to substitute an estate for Fotis Dulos for him as a defendant to force the state to show its hand in a trial filled with evidence we think that amounts to no more than innuendo and unsupported suspicions," Pattis said. "It'll be a difficult challenge to persuade the state of Connecticut to go forward with the trial in the absence of a defendant, but having maligned the man for all time from coast to coast and...around the world, we’re asking for the right to clear his name. We intend to proceed on as if he were alive to vindicate him because we think he's wrongfully accused."
Pattis said he believes investigators have found a note from Dulos professing his innocence, and he has requested that the note and any other evidence found in Dulos's home be preserved.
Dulos had previously been charged with evidence tampering and hindering prosecution in the case, and his ex-girlfriend Michelle Troconis and his lawyer Kent Mawhinney also face charges of conspiracy to commit murder. He was released on $6 million bond on January 16th, but faced the prospect of returning to jail because the South Carolina company that insured the bond said the collateral to cover the bond was not sufficient.
Pattis's attempt to continue a murder case without a body and now without a defendant is likely a first for Connecticut, legal experts say:
Pattis's motion cited Joan of Arc and the outlaw Henry Plummer as precedent for posthumous acquittals, according to the Hartford Courant. “Norm is an extremely creative attorney, without argument, but not all of his creations are substantial and worth pursuing,” New Haven lawyer William F. Dow told the paper. “It opens the door to much uncharted territory with very slender precedent, with due respect to Joan of Arc."
Newly appointed Chief State's Attorney Richard Colangelo is expected to file a motion to dismiss the murder charges against Dulos, according to the Hartford Courant.