The sister of Connie Dabate, who was found murdered in her Ellington home two years ago, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Richard Dabate, the victim’s husband, alleging he shot Connie Dabate in the head.
The five-page lawsuit filed by Marliese L. Shaw seeks unspecified damages from Dabate, who has been charged with his wife’s murder. He has pleaded not guilty and is currently free on a $1 million bond.
Shaw was named executor of her sister’s estate in May after questions were raised about Richard Dabate removing assets from his wife’s estate. In Connecticut a wrongful death lawsuit can only be filed by the executor of a person’s estate.
The lawsuit was filed in late November and has not gone to court yet. Manchester attorney Kevin O’Brien is representing Dabate.
Connie Dabate was found shot in the back of the head in the basement of the couple's Ellington home in December 2015. Richard Dabate told state police that his wife was killed by a masked intruder who shot her in the couple's basement after chasing her. He told police he fought with the man in the second-floor bedroom before he was subdued by the intruder.
Richard Dabate was found by police sprawled out in the kitchen of the couple's large, colonial-style home. One of his arms and a leg were secured to a folding chair with a zip tie, and he had superficial knife wounds. Dabate told police he escaped by knocking a blow torch into the intruder's face with his free hand.
Dabate eventually told state police in a six-hour interview that he had a pregnant girlfriend and that his wife was going to help "co-parent" the baby. He later acknowledged that the pregnancy wasn't planned.
He promised his girlfriend that he was getting a divorce, according to the arrest affidavit. The baby was born in February of last year.
The case has drawn national attention because state police used Connie Dabate’s Fitbit records to try and poke a hole in Richard Dabate’s story. Connie Dabate's Fitbit showed her last movements were at 10:05 the morning she died, nearly an hour after Richard Dabate told police she had been killed.
State police obtained cellphone records for the couple, computer records from Richard Dabate's laptop, Facebook records for both of them and the girlfriend, and text messages.
Facebook records showed Connie Dabate posted three videos at 9:46 a.m., and the alarm system records showed movements throughout the house that didn't match Richard Dabate's description of the attack, the warrant showed.
In her will Connie Dabate named her husband as executor of her estate giving him access to her bank accounts.
Within weeks of his wife's death Richard Dabate wrote a letter to Protective Life Insurance trying to get them to pay him Connie Dabate's $495,000 life insurance policy. She had taken out the policy in 2003, before the couple had any children, and named Richard as the sole beneficiary.
The insurance company denied his claim after state police detectives informed company officials he was a suspect in his wife's murder. The company has since filed a federal lawsuit asking the court to take control of the money and determine who it should eventually be distributed to.
Richard Dabate also put the couple’s second home on Talcott Road in Vernon up for sale for $149,000 and was supposed to close the sale on April 21, 2017, a week after Richard Dabate was charged with murder. But an attorney for Connie Dabate's estate asked a probate judge to halt the sale and Judge O. James Purnell III ordered a freeze on any of Connie Dabate's assets, including that home, the day before it was supposed to close.
The couple also owned a home in Ellington, where Connie Dabate was killed.
Records show that while the sale of the Vernon house was halted Richard Dabate took hundreds of thousands of dollars out of his wife's 401(k) accounts of which he was the beneficiary — at least one was a Fidelity account worth nearly $100,000.
When he removed Richard Dabate as executor of the will, Purnell ordered a full accounting of Connie Dabate’s estate. At that point the estate was worth $6.42, probate records show.
A new inventory was filed by Dabate's probate attorney last month showing Connie Dabate's estate was worth about $86,000.
Richard Dabate, as executor of the estate, paid about $17,000 in funeral expenses and state and local taxes from his wife's estate, records show. He then withdrew another $70,000 before he was arrested and charged with his wife's murder in April 2017.
Lawyer John G. Tunila, who represents Connie Dabate’s sister, said he plans to file a motion asking Purnell to order Richard Dabate to pay back the $70,000 to the estate.