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article imageDead woman's Fitbit data leads to murder charge against husband

By Arthur Weinreb     Apr 26, 2017 in Technology
Ellington - While a Connecticut man’s explanation for the death of his wife at first seemed plausible, an analysis of data from her Fitbit contradicted his timeline, leading to the husband's arrest on murder and other charges.
Earlier this month, Richard Dabate, 40, of Ellington, Connecticut was charged with felony murder, making false statements and tampering with evidence. The charges stem from the death of his wife Connie who was found dead in the couple’s home in December 2015.
Connie was found shot to death by a .357 Magnum on Dec. 23, 2015. When police entered the home they found Dabate tied to a kitchen chair and suffering from a minor stab wound. Dabate told officers an intruder came into the couple’s home and shot Connie. He described the intruder as a very obese man who wore a mask and camouflage clothes and spoke like the actor Vin Diesel. After a brief struggle, in which Dabate said he was tortured with a blowtorch, the intruder tied him to a kitchen chair.
But Connie was wearing a Fitbit on the morning of her death and an analysis of data from the device completely destroyed Dabate’s timeline of events. Fitbit measures data for the wearer such as heart rate, the number of steps taken and other metrics.
Dabate had told police he returned home at 9 a.m. after taking is children to the bus stop. The intruder broke in shortly after and Dabate yelled at his wife to run. The intruder went after Connie who fled to the basement and shot her twice, once in the head.
Richard Dabate  40
Richard Dabate, 40
Connecticut State Police
the Fitbit she was wearing told a different story. Connie was detected moving around the house until about 10:05 a.m., more than an hour after Dabate said she was killed. She had walked 1,217 feet around the home, pretty well impossible between the time Dabate said she came back home and the time she was killed. Connie had gone to the gym that morning and left the gym at 9:18 a.m. Both her Fitbit and security cameras at the facility confirmed that time.
Other evidence destroyed Dabate’s version of events
Although police and prosecutors view the evidence from Fitbit as strong, they say they have other evidence that contradicts Dabate’s version of events. Evidence was obtained showing Connie posted videos on Facebook beginning at 9:40 a.m., at least half an hour after Dabate said she was killed.
Sniffer dogs brought into the home could not detect the presence of anyone else having recently been in the home other than family members. And police said there were no signs of the struggle Dabate said had occurred.
Investigators also found text messages between the couple where divorce was discussed. And perhaps most damning of all, text messages between Dabate and his pregnant mistress were found. Credit card records were also uncovered showing Dabate spent money in strip clubs, hotel rooms and flowers for his pregnant girlfriend.
District Attorney Craig Stedman said it is rare for authorities to use Fitbit as an investigative tool but praised the device. Not only does it track the movements of a person but evidence from a Fitbit device can be obtained a lot faster than other types of evidence such as DNA.
Dabate claims he is innocent and said what has happened to him is like something out of a soap opera. He has been released from custody on $1 million bail and is scheduled to appear in court later this week.
More about Fitbit, felony murder, tampering with evidence, false statements, richard dabate
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