Dulos case defendant back in custody after trying to cut off GPS device, prosecutor says
STAMFORD — Kent Mawhinney, charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the death and disappearance of Jennifer Dulos, was taken back into custody Monday to be held on $1.5 million bond after he allegedly tampered with his mandated electronic monitoring device, officials said.
During an emergency bond hearing Monday in state Superior Court in Stamford, Supervisory State's Attorney Michelle Manning said tears were discovered on either side of the GPS device that Mawhinney is required to wear around his ankle.
"I think anyone with any common sense would take a look at that picture and realize that somebody tampered with that bracelet. The only person in possession of that bracelet is Mr. Mawhinney," Manning said as she pointed to a picture of the damaged bracelet. "This is a clear-cut case, in the state's view, of an individual who is attempting to elude the conditions set by the court. The only inference that can be made on someone who is trying to take off their GPS unit is that their intentions are nefarious."
Defense attorney Jeffrey Kestenband argued the marks were normal "wear and tear," and called the accusations leveled against his client as "hearsay."
"Kent Mawhinney was fully compliant with his conditions of release for two years without any problems. He traveled out of state multiple times, with the court's permission, and came back every time. He hasn't violated any of his conditions," Kestenband said. "There's no reason to believe he had done anything to his bracelet."
Despite Kestenband's objections, Judge Gary White raised Mawhinney's bond to $1.5 million and he was taken into custody following the hearing.
"It appears to me that based on the photographs, the bracelet has been tampered with," White said.
White set the new bond without prejudice, which means Kestenband could file a motion to revisit the issue in the future.
Mawhinney was unable to post the newly raised bond as of Monday afternoon. In addition to raising the bond, White also ordered that Mawhinney must post his bond at the state Superior Court in Stamford following a hearing.
Mawhinney, who has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit murder, had been free on $246,000 bond while wearing an electronic monitoring device as he awaits trial. He had previously gained court approval to travel out of state and has had no problems with the monitoring up to this point.
Mawhinney is accused of aiding Fotis Dulos in the disappearance and death of his estranged wife Jennifer Dulos by trying to provide an alibi for his friend during the period she went missing the morning of May 24, 2019. She is presumed dead by police and her family although her remains have not been found.
Mawhinney and Michelle Troconis, the former girlfriend of Fotis Dulos, are the remaining defendants in the case. Fotis Dulos died by suicide in January 2020 while facing murder, kidnapping and other charges in the case.
Troconis has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit murder, tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution. Troconis, who is free on $2.1 million bond and is being monitored by a GPS device, is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 18.
Prosecutors have indicated that Mawhinney, who decided in January to take his case to trial, will testify against Troconis if she goes to trial.
Arrest warrants detail how investigators believe Mawhinney attempted to create an alibi for Fotis Dulos the morning of the disappearance.
Mawhinney was also connected with an East Granby gun club where witnesses told investigators they found what they thought was a "human grave" leading up to the disappearance, according to an arrest warrant. Investigators wrote in the arrest warrant that the hole was later covered up and no remains were found at the site.
Mawhinney briefly eluded state police on Jan. 7, 2020, as they sought to take him into custody, officials said. He was later apprehended at gunpoint during a Tolland traffic stop.
Fotis Dulos was believed to have been "lying in wait" for his estranged wife at her New Canaan home after she dropped off their five children at school around 8 a.m. on May 24, 2019, according to an arrest warrant. Investigators said Jennifer Dulos was the victim of a "serious physical assault" in the garage of the home. The state's chief medical examiner determined she suffered wounds that were not survivable without immediate medical attention.