Court dismisses appeal of gag order in missing mom case

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The Connecticut Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal of a gag order that a judge imposed in the case of Fotis Dulos, who died after a suicide attempt last month while accused of killing his estranged wife.

Dulos’ lawyer, Norman Pattis, had appealed the order, saying it violated Dulos’ constitutional rights by preventing him from telling his side of the story and thwarting his attempts to clear his name.

Dulos, of Farmington, had pleaded not guilty to murder, kidnapping and other crimes in connection with the disappearance of Jennifer Dulos, who vanished in May after dropping their five children off at school. They were involved in contentious divorce and child custody proceedings at the time.

The Hartford Courant also filed a brief opposing the gag order, arguing it will set a “dangerous precedent” in future criminal cases in terms of free speech rights.

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Justices did not provide detailed reasons for dismissing the appeal on Wednesday. They had asked lawyers in the case to file briefs on why the appeal shouldn’t be dismissed because of Dulos’ death.

“The gag order remains a repulsive stain on the state’s constitutional terrain,” Pattis said Thursday. “The Court’s decision to use Mr. Dulos’s death as a pretext for avoiding the issue is chilling.”

The gag order imposed by Superior Court Judge John Blawie prohibited lawyers, potential witnesses, Dulos and his relatives from publicly commenting on the case.

Jennifer Dulos’ body has not been found. Officials believe she was killed, citing a bloody crime scene at her New Canaan home.

Pattis has asked that the murder case continue in an attempt to exonerate Dulos, who died in a hospital Jan. 30 two days after attempting suicide.

Fotis Dulos’ former girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, and his friend, Kent Mawhinney, have pleaded not guilty to murder conspiracy charges. They are accused of helping Fotis Dulos cover up the killing.

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