The estranged husband of missing Connecticut mom Jennifer Dulos pleaded not guilty in court Thursday to a second tampering charge in connection with his wife’s mysterious disappearance – hours before a gag order was issued because so many theories “masquerading as facts” have swirled around the high-profile case.
“The order merely restates existing law. It changes nothing in our strategy or tactics. If it shuts the state police up, we will regard it as a blessing,” Norm Pattis, the lawyer for estranged husband Fotis Dulos, stated in a comment to PEOPLE.
Standing before Judge Kevin Rudolph in Norwalk Superior Court, Dulos, 52, entered the not guilty plea through attorney Pattis, who took the opportunity to blast the new charge, Patch.com and NBC Connecticut report.
“We read the warrant, and nothing places Mr. Dulos in that car,” Pattis said in court, Patch.com reports.
The car Pattis cites is a red Toyota Tacoma truck investigators believe Fotis borrowed from an employee on the morning of May 24, when Jennifer went missing, Connecticut State Police said in a 38-page arrest warrant.
According to the explosive warrant, the luxury home developer allegedly replaced the seats in the truck without the knowledge of the owner, who kept the original seats and later handed them over to police.
Jennifer’s blood was allegedly found on the passenger seat Fotis had taken out of the truck, the warrant states. Asked about the truck, Fotis’s girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, 44, allegedly told police, “You showed me the picture of the blood in the door – it’s because the body of Jennifer at some point was in there.”
Jennifer’s blood was also allegedly found in her garage, where Fotis was allegedly “lying in wait” for her after she dropped the couple’s 5 children off at their private school in New Canaan that morning, the warrant says.
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Jennifer moved from Farmington to New Canaan with her children in 2017 after learning that her husband had allegedly been having an affair with Troconis for more than a year. In her divorce filing, Jennifer said she feared for her life, but Fotis has denied the accusations.
Fotis has maintained his innocence since his wife went missing. On Monday’s Dateline NBC, he told interviewer Dennis Murphy he thinks Jennifer is still alive and that he had nothing to do with her disappearance.
Fotis was arrested for a second time on Sept. 4 at his $4.35 million home in Farmington, which was recently forced into foreclosure, multiple outlets including Patch.com, the Hartford Courant and the Stamford Advocate report.
The lawyer who is in charge of the trust that holds the note and the deed to the home filed the motion, court records show, Patch.com reports. The lawyer represents Jennifer’s mother, Gloria Farber, who is caring for the couple’s five children while their father fights his legal battles and is fighting him in court for custody.
On Sept. 4, Fotis was held on a $500,000 bond and released hours later from Troop G in Bridgeport, where he was taken after his arrest.
His girlfriend, Michelle Troconis, 44, was arrested the next day on the same charge. She was released on a $100,000 bond and has not yet entered a plea. She is scheduled to return to court on Wednesday.
Fotis and Troconis were initially arrested in June and charged with hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence in connection with Jennifer’s disappearance. They were released on $500,000 bond each for those charges.
They both entered pleas of not guilty to the original charges in June.
Attorneys for the pair did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
On Thursday afternoon, the New Canaan Police Department issued a statement saying Superior Court Judge John Blawie had put a gag order in place.
“No information will be provided from this date forward regarding this case until the order is lifted or additional arrests are made,” the statement said.
In his order, the judge explained that he ruled in favor of forbidding attorneys and others to speak publicly about the case to safeguard “the right to a fair trial for the benefit of the defendant, the state and the public,” the Stamford Advocate reports.
“The problem with pervasive information or misinformation in the social media age is that in a high-profile case, it carries the potential to overwhelm the vital, constitutionally guaranteed right to a fair trial,” Blawie wrote, the Advocate reports.
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Alleged leaks from sources about the case and “theories masquerading as facts” made the gag order necessary, he wrote in the order.
This includes Pattis’ notion that Jennifer faked her own disappearance, much like the deceitful character in the novel and movie of the same name, “Gone Girl.”
“The extent and the nature of the coverage is not merely a result of the public record of the case, but rather, it reflects the tendency of some to fan the flames of publicity by providing the media with salacious, inadmissible, and often prejudicial details,” the order says, the outlet reports.
Pattis shrugged off the order saying it “merely” restates existing law, the Advocate reports.
“It changes nothing,” Pattis said.