8 criminal cases with Connecticut ties to watch in coming months

From the federal arrest of a former Middletown resident accused of killing his mother at sea to the fatal stabbing of a Fairfield Prep student at a Shelton gathering, a number of criminal cases with ties to Connecticut will be moving through state and federal courts during the second half of 2022.

Although some serious cases were stalled when most court operations were altered or shut down amid the pandemic, Judicial Branch officials said trials and cases have been moving forward more rapidly. Federal cases are also moving, with many court appearances online. Some of these cases may see a resolution by the end of the year. Others may take more time.

Here is a look at some of the high-profile state and federal cases to watch during the second half of 2022:

Michelle Troconis to request trial in Dulos case

FILE PHOTO: Attorney Jon Schoenhorn speaks to the media after representing Michelle Troconis, left, in Stamford Superior Court Stamford in connection to charges in the disappearance of Jennifer Dulos in 2020.

FILE PHOTO: Attorney Jon Schoenhorn speaks to the media after representing Michelle Troconis, left, in Stamford Superior Court Stamford in connection to charges in the disappearance of Jennifer Dulos in 2020.

H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media

Michelle Troconis, the former girlfriend of Fotis Dulos who faces conspiracy to commit murder and evidence tampering charges in connection with the disappearance and presumed death of Jennifer Dulos, will ask for a trial during her next court date in July, her attorney Jon Schoenhorn said.

But Schoenhorn said he will not know when a potential trial could be set until his client makes the request.

The case predates the start of the pandemic with Troconis first charged in June 2019 — one week after the New Canaan mother of five vanished — with evidence tampering and hindering prosecution.

Troconis was charged with conspiracy to commit murder in early January 2020, just weeks before the pandemic hit Connecticut. Fotis Dulos was charged at the same time with murder and kidnapping, but died by suicide three weeks later.

State police investigators accused Troconis of being with Fotis Dulos when he threw out bags in trash bins along a busy street in Hartford the night of the disappearance, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Some of those bags were later recovered and contained Jennifer Dulos’ blood and clothing, arrest warrants stated.

Troconis has remained free on more than $2 million bail, but her movements have been monitored by a GPS device.

Troconis is scheduled to appear remotely July 15 in state Superior Court in Stamford.

Kent Mawhinney awaits trial in Dulos case

FILE PHOTO: Kent Mawhinney enters Superior Court in Hartford, Conn. Feb. 3, 2022.

FILE PHOTO: Kent Mawhinney enters Superior Court in Hartford, Conn. Feb. 3, 2022.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

Kent Mawhinney, charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the death and disappearance of Jennifer Dulos, is also taking his case to trial.

He is accused of providing an alibi for Fotis Dulos the morning of the disappearance.

Similar to the case against Troconis, it is unclear when a resolution will be reached. Mawhinney spent months incarcerated on $2 million bond before he was released in October 2020 on reduced bond — weeks after he spoke with state police, Schoenhorn said in court documents.

The bail reduction led to questions from Schoenhorn whether a deal was struck between prosecutors and Mawhinney, records show. In separate motions, Troconis’ attorney has asked for any information related to a potential agreement between Mawhinney and prosecutors.

In a hearing early in 2021, prosecutors said Mawhinney would likely be called to testify against Troconis if her case goes to trial.

Mawhinney resolved separate charges in a South Windsor domestic violence incident that occurred in 2019 last week. He was sentenced Friday to a suspended jail term and three years of probation.

Slaying of Fairfield Prep’s James McGrath

Kevin and Margaret McGrath, the parents of James McGrath, stand next to a poster of their son prior to a news conference in Bridgeport, Conn. June 3, 2022. James McGrath, 17, a Fairfield Prep student from Shelton was stabbed and killed during a house party in Shelton in May.

Kevin and Margaret McGrath, the parents of James McGrath, stand next to a poster of their son prior to a news conference in Bridgeport, Conn. June 3, 2022. James McGrath, 17, a Fairfield Prep student from Shelton was stabbed and killed during a house party in Shelton in May.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

The case of the fatal stabbing of a Fairfield Preparatory School student will likely take a few years to resolve.

A 16-year-old from Milford was charged with the murder of James McGrath, 17, of Shelton, following a stabbing that injured multiple people during a May 14 house party, Shelton police said. Raul Eliah Valle, a student at St. Joseph High School in Trumbull, is also facing three counts of first-degree assault, officials said.

Around 11:55 p.m. on May 14, police and paramedics were called to a home on Laurel Glen Drive in Shelton for a reported fight and stabbing, officials said. At the scene, police said they found “numerous teenagers outside of a residence,” including four victims who had been stabbed.

McGrath died from his injuries after being taken to a hospital, police said. The stabbing rocked several communities, including Fairfield where McGrath attended school.

Valle is free after posting $2 million bond.

Nathan Carman’s attorneys investigate allegations

The federal case against Nathan Carman, a former Connecticut resident accused of killing his mother off the coast of Block Island to inherit a portion of his family’s estate, is on hold while his attorneys conduct an investigation into the allegations, which are years old.

Carman, 28, pleaded not guilty during his arraignment in May to first-degree murder and multiple fraud charges in the death of his mother, Linda Carman.

The federal eight-count indictment, which was unsealed May 11, also alleged Nathan Carman shot and killed his grandfather, John Chakalos, at his Windsor home in 2013 to defraud insurance companies.

However, Carman has not been charged in that killing. Windsor police said that case is being handled by the Chief State’s Attorney’s Cold Case Unit.

Federal prosecutors contend that Carman went as far as killing two family members to get his hands on a share of the family’s $42 million estate. Linda Carman would have inherited one-fourth of her father’s estate, court documents said. Her three sisters kept the estate in probate for years to prohibit Nathan Carman from getting his hands on his mother’s share since they believe he played a role in his grandfather’s death.

Although a federal prosecutor accused Nathan Carman of having a history of untreated mental health issues that made him a threat to public safety, a judge determined he is competent to stand trial and participate in his own defense.

Peter Manfredonia’s cases may quickly move forward

Peter Manfredonia, who faces charges in separate 2020 killings in Willington and Derby, has yet to reach a resolution in cases he faces in Milford and Tolland judicial districts. But he does have courts dates coming up on Thursday and Friday that may move the cases forward.

Peter Manfredonia

Peter Manfredonia

Connecticut State Police

Manfredonia, who is incarcerated on a combined $12 million bond, has pleaded not guilty to the charges, including murder, felony murder, attempted murder, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree robbery and first-degree assault, records show.

The Newtown High School graduate and former University of Connecticut student was accused of attacking two men in Willington the morning of May 22, 2020, according to arrest records. One victim, Ted Demers, was killed in the attack, and a second man, John Franco, was critically injured but survived, according to authorities.

Two days later, authorities tracked Manfredonia’s movements to Derby, where they found the body of Nicholas Eisele inside a Roosevelt Drive home, according to arrest records.

Manfredonia is also accused of killing Eisele, a fellow Newtown High School graduate, and kidnapping the man’s girlfriend before releasing her in New Jersey, records show.

Authorities eventually apprehended Manfredonia at a Maryland truck stop on May 27, 2020.

John Griffin offered deal

This undated photo provided by the Vermont State Police shows John Griffin, of Stamford, Conn. Griffin, a television producer, jas pleaded not guilty to federal charges that included having a Nevada woman bring her 9-year-old daughter to Vermont where she engaged in unlawful sexual activity at a Ludlow ski house.

This undated photo provided by the Vermont State Police shows John Griffin, of Stamford, Conn. Griffin, a television producer, jas pleaded not guilty to federal charges that included having a Nevada woman bring her 9-year-old daughter to Vermont where she engaged in unlawful sexual activity at a Ludlow ski house.

Vermont State Police

Former CNN producer and Stamford resident John Griffin has been offered a plea agreement to resolve federal charges after authorities say he forced a 9-year-old girl into sexual activity and tried to lure others to his Vermont ski home.

But the case may not be settled for months. Griffin has pleaded not guilty to a charge of using a facility of interstate commerce to attempt to entice minors to engage in unlawful sexual activity. He is also battling a lawsuit brought on by the victim and her guardian and is the middle of divorce proceedings, court documents indicate.

His wife, who filed for divorce about a month after the arrest, is seeking their Norwalk home and custody of their three children, court documents said. She said in court documents Griffin’s federal charges have created a “toxic environment.”

He is also accused of bribing the 9-year-old’s family with a $4,000 payoff after the child and her adoptive mother stayed at his Vermont ski home, court documents said.

Griffin was first arrested by FBI agents in New Haven on Dec. 10. He was presented before a federal judge in New Haven before his case was transferred to U.S. District Court in Burlington, Vt. He was detained following the arrest and prosecutors have argued that he should remain incarcerated.

He had been employed by CNN since 2013, but was fired after his arrest, according to the company.

Jose Morales gets new attorney, daughter still missing

Jose Morales, the New Haven man charged with murder in the 2019 death of Christine Holloway in Ansonia, has hired a new attorney, Edward Gavin, two years after he was arrested, records show.

Police said they are still searching for the former couple’s daughter, Vanessa Morales, who was an infant when she vanished after the killing.

Ansonia Police Chief Andrew Cota, III, (left) speaks at a press conference at Ansonia City Hall on February 7, 2020 announcing charges or murder and tampering with evidence for Jose Morales related to the homicide of Christine Holloway. At right is a photograph of Halloway's missing 1-year-old daughter, Vanessa Morales.

Ansonia Police Chief Andrew Cota, III, (left) speaks at a press conference at Ansonia City Hall on February 7, 2020 announcing charges or murder and tampering with evidence for Jose Morales related to the homicide of Christine Holloway. At right is a photograph of Halloway's missing 1-year-old daughter, Vanessa Morales.

Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media
Jose Morales appears for a pretrial hearing on felony weapons charges in Superior Court in New Haven, Conn. on Wednesday, December 18, 2019. Morales is the main suspect in the murder of his girlfriend Christine Holloway, of Ansonia. Morales and Holloway's baby, Vanessa Morales, has been missing since the murder.

Jose Morales appears for a pretrial hearing on felony weapons charges in Superior Court in New Haven, Conn. on Wednesday, December 18, 2019. Morales is the main suspect in the murder of his girlfriend Christine Holloway, of Ansonia. Morales and Holloway's baby, Vanessa Morales, has been missing since the murder.

Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Connecticut Media
Left: Ansonia Police Chief Andrew Cota, III, (left) speaks at a press conference at Ansonia City Hall on February 7, 2020 announcing charges or murder and tampering with evidence for Jose Morales related to the homicide of Christine Holloway. (Arnold Gold/Hearst Connecticut Media) Right: Jose Morales appears for a pretrial hearing on felony weapons charges in Superior Court in New Haven, Conn. on Wednesday, December 18, 2019. (Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Connecticut Media)

Prosecutors have repeatedly said they continue to examine many leads in the child’s disappearance, but none have panned out. Gavin told a judge in May that he is still working on a defense for the case.

Morales has never been charged in the disappearance, and an arrest warrant affidavit details that he told investigators he had nothing to do with Holloway’s death or his daughter’s disappearance.

He was previously represented by the firm of Pattis and Smith.

Morales, who is being held on $5 million bond, has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He is scheduled to appear July 12 in state Superior Court in Milford.

Albert Kokoth faces competency hearing

Albert Kokoth, 77, accused of fatally shooting his wife in their New Canaan home in May 2021, must undergo a competency hearing before his attorney can use a mental health defense, court records show.

Albert Kokoth, 77, of New Canaan

Albert Kokoth, 77, of New Canaan

New Canaan Police Department

Kokoth told investigators the fatal shooting was “accidental,” according to arrest records. However, prosecutors said early in the case that the shooting appeared to be intentional.

“It’s now pretty clear that the defendant’s version of events is not consistent with the evidence. This appears to be an intentional act,” Assistant State’s Attorney Dan Cummings said during Kokoth’s arraignment in Stamford Superior Court.

Two months after he was charged with second-degree assault and illegal discharge of a firearm, Kokoth was charged with murder in connection with the death of his wife, Margaret Kokoth, records show.

Kokoth, who remains in jail on $2 million bond, will face a judge June 30 in state Superior Court in Stamford.

This story includes previous reporting by Ethan Fry, Peter Yankowski, Nick Rondinone, Brian Gioiele and Pat Tomlinson contributed to this story.