A Florida husband was found guilty Wednesday of first-degree murder in the violent killing of his newlywed wife, who he claimed accidentally drowned in a bathtub.
Prosecutors argued that David Tronnes, 55, beat and strangled Shanti Cooper-Tronnes to death in April 2018 at their home in the upscale Orlando suburb of Delaney Park that the couple were in the process of renovating, reported Law&Crime.
The husband called 911, claiming that he returned home from walking his dogs to find his wife bleeding in a bathtub partially filled with water.
But police officers who raced to the scene found the 39-year-old married mom completely dry just minutes later.
During a police interrogation following his arrest in August 2018, a detective accused Tronnes of fake-crying over his wife’s death and showing “not a lick of remorse.”
In court Wednesday, Tronnes appeared teary-eyed as prosecutors and defense attorneys delivered their closing arguments.
“She was brutally attacked and then strangled,” a state prosecutor said of Cooper-Tronnes.
An autopsy found that the woman was struck in the head with such force that her skull cracked, before she was choked to death.
“This is personal,” the prosecutor said, referring to the victim’s manner of death.
After killing his wife in the bedroom, prosecutors said Tronnes tried to clean up the scene up by wiping away bloodstains to make Cooper-Tronnes’ death look like an accident.
Tronnes’ defense team tried to downplay the state’s evidence as circumstantial — and claimed that the Orlando police bungled the murder investigation.
“If the strongest piece of your case is that he’s not crying enough or there’s not enough water on the floor, then that’s not proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” one of the defendant’s lawyers said, according to ClickOrlando.
Prosecutors told the court that the couple, who met in 2013 on a dating site and had tied the knot a year before Cooper-Tronnes’ death, had marital problems and disagreements.
Tronnes spent thousands of dollars on home renovations and was hoping to appear on the reality TV show “Zombie House Renovations,” but his wife refused, prosecutors said.
“Cooper-Tronnes’ refusal to appear on the show upset Tronnes to the point that it led to her murder,” the state attorney’s office said in a news release.
Tronnes did not testify during his trial, and the defense did not call any witnesses to the stand.
It took the jury only a few hours to convict Tronnes after a week-long trial.
The judge sentenced the husband to life in prison, after the death penalty was taken off the table at the request of the victim’s family.
Before Tronnes learned his fate, Cooper-Tronnes’ son from a previous marriage, Jackson Cooper, delivered an emotional victim impact statement, in which he called his mom “the best person I ever knew,” according to the statin WESH.
“Early 2018, she was taken from me and my family,” Jackson said. “It’s like a hole in my heart that I can’t fill or fix. She didn’t die peacefully. She did not deserve anything that happened to her that night.”
Cooper-Tronnes’ ex-husband, James Cooper, said he was feeling “exhilaration and a little bit of peace” after hearing the guilty verdict.
“Now we’re going to wake up tomorrow a little brighter,” James said.