Fitbit evidence

Fitbit Evidence in Murder Case That is Finally Going to Trial: eDiscovery Trends

Hat tip to my beautiful wife Paige for this story and it’s hard to believe it’s been five years since I originally covered it. This week, the trial is expected to finally begin for a man accused of killing his wife, where Fitbit evidence may be key in the trial.

According to CBS News, a second jury selection is set to begin Tuesday for the trial of a Connecticut man accused of killing his wife, whose Fitbit activity tracker is expected to be a key piece of evidence against him. Prospective jurors will be questioned in Rockville Superior Court for the murder case of Richard Dabate, who has maintained his innocence.

Dabate told police a masked man shot his wife, Connie Dabate, and tied him up before he burned the intruder with a torch at the couple’s Ellington home on Dec. 23, 2015.

But police say the Fitbit evidence on Connie Dabate’s Fitbit contradicts Richard Dabate’s story, showing she was moving around an hour after he said she was killed.

A jury had been picked for the case in early 2020, before state courts shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. A judge dismissed that jury last August, saying it had been empaneled too long and some jurors had moved out of state.

According to an article in CNN from back in 2017, this timeline of activities conflicted with the story that Dabate told the police:

  • At 9:01 a.m. Richard logged into Outlook from an IP address assigned to the internet at the house.
  • At 9:04 a.m., Richard sent his supervisor an e-mail saying an alarm had gone off at his house and he’s got to go back and check on it.
  • Connie’s Fitbit registered movement at 9:23 a.m., the same time the garage door opened into the kitchen.
  • Connie was active on Facebook between 9:40 and 9:46 a.m., posting videos to her page with her iPhone. She was utilizing the IP address at their house.
  • While she was at home, the Fitbit evidence showed that she traveled a distance of 1,217 feet between 9:18 a.m. and 10:05 a.m. when movement stops.  If Richard Dabate’s claims were correct, detectives say the total distance it would take the victim to walk from her vehicle to the basement, where she died, would be no more than 125 feet.

Dabate later admitted to having an extramarital affair where he impregnated a woman.

Of course, I would be remiss without reminding you that every person accused of a crime is presumed to be innocent unless and until his or her guilt is established beyond a reasonable doubt. Regardless, we’ve seen Fitbit evidence and evidence from other Internet of Things (IoT) devices (even pacemakers) come up more frequently and we even saw Fitbit evidence become important in a civil case last year. Yet another source of data becoming important for discovery purposes these days.

So, what do you think?  What do you think of the fact that cases are being decided in part on Fitbit evidence? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

Leave a Reply