In husband’s trial, judge allows evidence from slain wife's Fitbit
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A Connecticut judge ruled Monday that prosecutors can introduce evidence from a slain woman’s Fitbit that is inconsistent with her husband’s story about a masked intruder shooting her in the head.
Judge Julia Dewey of Rockville allowed the evidence in the upcoming trial of Richard Dabate after hearing from an expert on the accuracy of Fitbits. Dabate is charged with the December 2015 killing of his wife, Connie. The Hartford Courant and the Journal Inquirer have coverage.
Police say the Fitbit continued to show physical activity by Connie Dabate for almost an hour after her husband claimed that the intruder had shot her.
Dabate had claimed that he returned home the morning of the killing after receiving an alert that his home alarm had been activated, according to prior coverage of the case. He says he confronted an intruder at about 9 a.m., and his wife was killed when she returned home from an exercise class during the confrontation.
Connie Dabate’s Fitbit indicated that she returned home at 9:23 a.m., and her Facebook feed showed that she was posting videos from there after her arrival, according to prior coverage. The Fitbit worn on her hip showed movement by Connie Dabate up until about 10:05 a.m.
Dewey ruled after hearing from a professor at Columbia University Medical Center who has studied the accuracy of Fitbits. The professor said his study found that Fitbits, when worn on a person’s hip, accurately detect movement 98% of the time. He acknowledged, however, that the error rate is higher in real-world conditions.
Dewey said she would allow the evidence, and jurors could weigh its accuracy.
Dewey also allowed prosecutors to introduce evidence that dogs did not detect the scent of a third person outside the home.
Dewey will consider whether to exclude the Facebook evidence next month.