DNA from unknown person found on gun that killed Connie Dabate, witness testifies

Apr. 21—VERNON — An unknown person's DNA was found on a door of Richard and Connie Dabates' bedroom closet and on two parts of a gun that was found in the home's basement, a forensic examiner testified today.

Dr. Angela Przech testified that she tested swabs from the interior and exterior doorknobs of the Dabates' master bedroom closet. The exterior doorknob contained a low-level DNA profile that didn't include any of the "known" profiles she had.

Those known profiles initially included Richard and Connie Dabate and a contractor who had worked at their home in the past. In the following years she received more profiles to compare from a number of state police, first responders, and others whose DNA could be present. They were all eliminated as contributors, Przech said.

Dabate told state police during an interview on the day his wife was killed that he arrived home to find an intruder in his bedroom closet.

Dabate, 45, was charged in April 2017 with murder, tampering with physical evidence, and making a false statement in connection with the death of his wife, Connie, on Dec. 23, 2015.

State police and the prosecutor have said Dabate staged his wife's murder as a home invasion to avoid the fallout of a divorce, as he was expecting a baby with one of his mistresses.

Przech testified that four swabs were taken from Dabate's handgun, which he said an intruder used to shoot Connie. The handle of the gun contained a mixture of Richard Dabate's DNA and another unknown person. Unknown DNA was also found on the gun's cylinder latch, and Connie's DNA couldn't be eliminated from the sample taken of the cylinder latch. That means her profile was partially there, Przech explained.

Other items tested for DNA included a basement window, the chair Dabate was found tied to, Dabate's shirt, and nail clippings taken from Connie's body.

Prosecutor Matthew Gedansky followed up Przech's testimony by calling a supervisor at the forensic lab, Carll Ladd.

Over his nearly 30 years in the industry, a lot has changed, Ladd said. One of the biggest changes has been the gradual, consistent increase in the sensitivity of DNA testing, he said. That has made DNA more useful in criminal investigations, but it has also increased the worry about contamination throughout the process of collection and testing.

In response to a question from Gedansky, Ladd said finding mixtures of DNA on objects is very common because DNA can persist for years. Besides touching an item, DNA can also end up in the air, Ladd said. Someone talking, coughing, or sneezing can expel DNA that will float and land somewhere feet away.

Gedansky mentioned that DNA from a state police member was found on a safe in the Dabates' home, yet that trooper had testified he didn't touch the safe. He asked Ladd if he was surprised by that, and Ladd said if the trooper wasn't wearing a mask, then he wasn't surprised.

The long-delayed trial was originally set to take place in April 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic postponed it. The first witnesses were called April 5, and the trial is expected to last approximately six weeks.

Dabate has been free after posting a $1 million bond several days after his arrest.

He faces a maximum of 66 years in prison.

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