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Kent Mawhinney’s agreement on domestic charges has no impact on Jennifer Dulos case, prosecutor says

HARTFORD — Kent Mawhinney, a co-defendant in the disappearance of Jennifer Dulos, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a charge of breaching a protective order stemming from an incident involving his ex-wife.

Mawhinney pleaded under the Alford Doctrine, meaning he does not admit guilt but agrees that there is enough evidence to potentially be convicted. Under an agreement with prosecutors, Mawhinney will not spend time behind bars, with a five-year suspended prison sentence and three years probation.

However, the deal is not tied to any potential help Mawhinney is providing to prosecutors in the Dulos case, Hartford State’s Attorney Sharmese Walcott said Wednesday.

Mawhinney, who pleaded not guilty to a conspiracy to commit murder charge in the Jennifer Dulos case, appeared in Hartford Superior Court on Wednesday on allegations stemming from 2019 incidents involving his estranged wife.

Mawhinney is expected to be sentenced on April 20. A protective order will also prohibit him from contacting his ex-wife for five years. All other charges in Hartford will be dropped when he is convicted.

Mawhinney’s attorney declined to comment on Wednesday.

Lawyer Lisa Gilbert of the Victims Rights Center who represents Mawhinney’s ex-wife told the court that her client was still afraid of him and wanted a permanent criminal protective order barring him from contact with her for life.

“She’s very worried,” Gilbert said. “Their six-year marriage was riddled with domestic violence.”

The woman will likely speak at sentencing, Gilbert said.

“The worst thing that can happen is the police don’t come out because there’s no protective order in place,” Gilbert said. “There is no turning back from violence.”

Walcott told Judge Hope Seeley that the cases Mawhinney faces in Hartford are separate from the conspiracy to commit murder charge and that solving the domestic violence cases ‘has no impact’ on the case Dulos outside Stamford Superior Court.

Based on the evidence, Walcott said she agreed with the five-year protective order. “They have no children together and their divorce is final,” Walcott said.

“The provision in this case is the one the state agrees to,” she added.

The two cases charging Mawhinney with spousal sexual assault and breach of a protection order have continued repeatedly for three years without resolution. Evidence in the cases is also the subject of legal proceedings filed by attorney representing Michelle Troconis, who also faces conspiracy to commit murder and other charges in the Dulos case.

Attorney Jon Schoenhorn, representing Troconis, argues he needs all the evidence from the Hartford cases to determine whether Mawhinney has been offered a deal to testify against his client.

Following a judge’s order, Walcott has until next week to provide the court with a detailed list of items in his possession that Schoenhorn is looking for.

Mawhinney initially pleaded not guilty to spousal sexual assault, disorderly conduct, second-degree unlawful restraint and breach of a protective order in the Hartford cases. He has also pleaded not guilty to the charge of conspiracy to commit murder and is taking that case to trial. He has been free on bail since October 2020.

Mawhinney was charged with sexual assault against his spouse in January 2019, records show. He and his estranged wife were still living together in South Windsor as they prepared to divorce, when the woman reported to police that Mawhinney had forced her to have sex in exchange for rent, according to court documents.

Mawhinney was charged a second time in June 2019 with breaching a protective order that was put in place when he was arrested for sexual assault, records show. In the case, Mawhinney’s ex-wife claimed he drove past her home despite being banned from contacting her, according to court documents.

Walcott also pointed out that his ex-wife alleged Mawhinney asked Fotis Dulos to contact her to discuss a reconciliation in May 2019 – just days before Jennifer Dulos disappeared.

“The drive-by was an attempt to harass her as the reconciliation attempts were not going well,” Walcott said.

Mawhinney, whose divorce was finalized in December 2020, was a longtime friend and former lawyer of Fotis Dulos, who was embroiled in a two-year contentious divorce and child custody dispute when his estranged wife disappeared in May 2019.

Fotis Dulos died by suicide in January 2020 shortly after being charged with murder and kidnapping in the death and disappearance of his ex-wife.

Mawhinney was charged with trying to provide an alibi for Fotis Dulos on the morning of the disappearance on May 24, 2019, according to a warrant for his arrest.

Mawhinney was arrested in January 2020 and held on $2 million bail until his release in October of the same year for a reduced amount of $246,000. The release came weeks after Mawhinney was questioned by state police about Jennifer Dulos, Schoenhorn said in court documents.

A prosecutor said Mawhinney would be one of their witnesses if the Troconis case goes to trial.

Troconis, the former girlfriend of Fotis Dulos, also pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and other charges in the Jennifer Dulos case. She was released on $2 million bail.

As part of his defense, Schoenhorn repeatedly asked if Mawhinney negotiated a settlement on the domestic violence charges in exchange for his cooperation in his client’s prosecution.

Schoenhorn wants all arrest reports and evidence in the domestic violence cases, as well as any other evidence indicating whether Mawhinney made a deal to testify against his client. On January 24, Seeley told Walcott she had one month to provide the court with the information Schoenhorn was seeking.

Schoenhorn said Tuesday that so far no court date has been set to discuss the information, but he believes Walcott has until next week to provide the data.