‘Dateline’ special highlights Richard Dabate’s ‘Fitbit murder’ trial

A two-hour special of NBC’s “Dateline” will focus on the murder of Connecticut mother Connie Margotta Dabate and the conviction of her husband, Richard Dabate, who earlier this year was sentenced to 65 years behind bars after a jury found him guilty of her murder.

Connie Dabate, a 39-year-old mother of two, was found dead in the basement of her Ellington home just before Christmas in 2015. Her family waited six years for her case — dubbed the ‘Fitbit murder’ — to go to trial.

The special will air on NBC at 9 p.m. Friday and features interviews with Connecticut State Police detectives, members of Connie Dabate’s family and State’s Attorney Matthew C. Gedansky, who prosecuted the case in Rockville Superior Court last spring.

Prosecutors brought forth evidence for weeks, pinning a fair amount on their case on data from Connie Dabate’s hip-worn Fitbit. Data from the device contradicted the timeline Richard Dabate repeatedly gave of an alleged bloody home invasion.

Dabate told investigators, and the jury, that he came home the morning of his wife’s death to find a camouflage-clad intruder in their home who stole his wallet, shot his wife, attacked him and left him tied to a folding chair on the floor of their kitchen.

Connie Dabate’s FitBit, however, showed that she was moving around after she was allegedly shot by the intruder and did not reflect what data would likely show if she had been running for her life, prosecutors argued in court.

The state called an expert on such devices and their data to the stand to support their case, while Dabate’s defense team, led by attorney Trent LaLima, argued that the data collected by FitBits and similar devices are unreliable.

Investigators also uncovered evidence of Richard Dabate’s extramarital affairs, including one with a woman who was pregnant with his child at the time of the murder. The woman, who gave birth to their daughter in 2016, testified at trial.

Over five weeks, attorneys questioned and cross-examined more than 130 witnesses and introduced more than 600 pieces of evidence. Jurors spent only a few hours deliberating before returning their verdict that same day.

The jury found Dabate guilty of murder, tampering with physical evidence and giving a false statement. He had pleaded not guilty to all charges and maintained his innocence through the trial and on the day of his sentencing, saying “I will never stop seeking justice for my wife Connie who I love and think of every day, and I will never stop seeking justice for myself.”

Judge Corinne Klatt, who handed down Dabate’s sentence, said in court that Connie Dabate’s murder was “brutal, calculated and it was an incomprehensible act” that was committed “at the hands of a person who at one point vowed to love and protect her.”

Gedansky said in court that the crimes were part of “a selfish, cowardly evil plan” that, he argued, Dabate created to cover up his affair and avoid a divorce.

Dabate, 46, was free on bond for more than six years as he awaited trial. He is now in custody at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, according to the state Department of Correction.

The couple’s sons live with Connie Dabate’s sister.

In a series of emotional victim impact statements delivered in court, Connie’s family claimed that Richard Dabate spent all of the couple’s estate, which they claimed was mainly earned by Connie Dabate, leaving just $6.24 for their boys to inherit.

Attorney LaLima said after Dabate’s sentencing that they would appeal his conviction. He continuously argued at trial that there was not enough evidence to convict his client.