VERNON, Conn. — Rick Dabate, who was convicted in May of murdering his wife Connie in 2015, was sentenced to 65 years in prison on Thursday as Judge Corinne L. Klatt called his actions, "brutal, calculated, incomprehensible."
A jury found Dabate guilty of murder following a five-week trial back in May. Dabate was accused of murdering his wife Connie at their Ellington home in 2015.
Dabate was also found guilty of tampering with evidence and making false statements.
Supporters of both the defendant and the victim spoke passionately to the judge during a period set aside prior to sentencing, and that includes Connie Dabate’s mother.
Cameras were not permitted in the courtroom for today's sentencing of Rick Dabate, 46, but his mother-in-law shared details of a chilling phone conversation with her daughter the morning of her murder.
"The first thing she said on the phone was 'mom I love you,'" said Cindy Margotta. "You're my best friend. And I said, I didn't know what was going on, I said 'I love you too and you're a good friend of mine.'"
But Connie had more to say that morning.
"I just want to let you know Rick is a mess today," is what Connie said, according to her mom.
As a result of the tragedy that ensued, Cindy Margotta has regrets.
"I wish I had said 'well if he's such a mess why don't you come to my house and we'll have breakfast,'" she said outside Rockville Superior Court.
Rick and Connie Dabate's now teenage sons live with an aunt, who told the court one of the sons asked her to text his mom in heaven and to use a telescope to see heaven.
"Today is an accumulation of almost seven years of stress and anxiety, hurt and pain," said Wayne Rioux, a Margotta family friend.
During her statement to the court, Rick Dabate's mother, Janice, said if her son was guilty of murdering his wife, he would have admitted it.
"Today was the close of just the first chapter of the litigation in this case we are going to continue to fight with the appeal," said attorney Trent LaLima, Dabate's lawyer.
One of the key pieces of evidence: Connie Dabate's Fitbit. The data extracted from it suggests she was still moving around the house an hour after Rick Dabate said she was killed.
"I think that's gonna be for an appellate court to decide," said LaLima. "That was my argument it's not sufficiently reliable and proven."
For now, though, Connie's family can finally breathe.
"I just feel like a surge from up above," said Cindy Margotta, with a smile. "I just feel the strength coming to me right now."
The prosecution asserted Dabate murdered his wife in part because his world was crashing, as a mistress Dabate had impregnated was due to give birth to their child just two months after the murder.
One of the Dabate's neighbors in Ellington said she thought it was extremely weird that just a few days after the murder, Rick Dabate was texting neighbors asking what their favorite takeout restaurants were.
The case was known nationally as the "Fitbit Case" due to Connie Dabate wearing a Fitbit tracker at the time of her death. The Fitbit, used as evidence against her husband, recorded Connie Dabate moving an hour after her husband said a masked intruder killed her.
Dabate had testified at the trial that in December 2015, days before Christmas, he had come home early because he forgot his laptop. There, he supposedly saw a masked man with a voice like actor Vin Diesel dressed in camouflage. He claimed the man had shot Connie in their basement, tied him up, and stabbed him before Dabate was able to burn the alleged intruder with a torch.
Dabate also confessed to having an affair at the time of Connie's murder and had lied to the police about it.
Twelve jurors heard from more than 100 witnesses, including Dabate, over 22 days and saw 600 pieces of evidence.
“The thorough and thoughtful examination of technology was key to this investigation and was significant in proving that the defendant was guilty of this crime,” Prosecutor Matthew Gedansky said in a statement. “In the end, though, this was another case of domestic violence. And though much progress has been made in recent years to support victims and survivors and to hold abusers accountable, these domestic violence homicides are still happening so we must continue to work together to end domestic violence.”
Jennifer Glatz is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Have a story idea or something on your mind you want to share? We want to hear from you! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
HERE ARE MORE WAYS TO GET FOX61 NEWS
Download the FOX61 News APP
iTunes: Click here to download
Google Play: Click here to download
Stream Live on ROKU: Add the channel from the ROKU store or by searching FOX61.
Steam Live on FIRE TV: Search ‘FOX61’ and click ‘Get’ to download.