Trial underway for man accused of killing Bethel woman he met on dating app
The trial for a man accused of killing a Bethel woman he met on a dating app is now underway. It’s been more than three years since Emily Todd, 25, was found face down in the sand near a public boat ramp in Bridgeport.
Testimony in Brandon Roberts’ case began with Paolo Henriquez, a fisherman who owns H&H Shellfish on Seaview Avenue. Henriquez is the one who called 911 the morning of Dec. 9, 2018, after a coworker noticed something along the shore from the business’ dock.
“He told me that he thought he saw a doll on the beach so I walked back up to the dock with him, and the person was face down. I saw sand on the shoes, and I said, ‘Joe, this is not good.’ So I grabbed the phone,” Henriquez testified.
Bridgeport police have said Roberts and Todd dated briefly before Todd ended things. Then on Dec. 8, he allegedly convinced her to come to the dock and meet him one more time.
The jury heard next from some of the officers who responded to that call and discovered Todd with a bullet wound to the back of her head. State’s Attorney Joseph Corradino introduced pictures of Todd’s dead body in the sand. Some of her family members who were in the courtroom cried quietly as the photos were shown.
Bridgeport Det. Juan Serrano, then with the department’s crime scene unit, testified that his team had to work fast to process the scene.
“The water was rising. The high tide was coming in, and we were afraid it was going to wash the body out,” Serrano told the court. He also said investigators found a shell casing in the sand along with a shoe print they made a casting of.
Corradino called the deputy chief medical examiner to the stand next. Dr. Maura Dejoseph performed the autopsy on Todd’s body. Dejoseph testified Todd was killed by a single bullet that entered the back of her neck and exited her right cheek, causing massive injuries to her cervical spine, spinal cord, jugular vein, and carotid artery. She also told the jury she recovered bullet fragments that were left behind.
The state's final witness of the day was an FBI agent who testified Roberts' cellphone was traced to the vicinity of the murder scene the night Todd was killed. Special Agent Jim Wines said it also pinged off towers near other locations relevant to the case, including where Todd's car was found and her debit card later used. Police have said Roberts stole Todd’s car, phone, and credit cards after killing her. He was arrested at his father’s house in Ohio and is charged with murder, felony murder, robbery, and possession of a pistol without a permit.
In January 2020, Roberts agreed to plead guilty to the charges in exchange for a 45-year prison sentence. Todd’s family was vocal about their opposition to the deal, so the judge rejected it.
Police have said Roberts confessed to the killing in a police interview. That recorded statement is expected to be introduced to the jury this week. Testimony in the trial continues Tuesday.