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Crime News Domestic Violence

Trial Starts for Man Who Allegedly Killed Wife When She Found Out He Wasn't Really Rich

Prosecutors argued this week that David Tronnes savagely beat his wife Shanti Cooper-Tronnes to death in 2018 when she began to see through his alleged lies about being wealthy.

By Gina Salamone
Police handouts of David Tronnes and Shanti Cooper Tronnes

The trial began this week for a Florida man who allegedly murdered his wife after his lies about being a millionaire started to unravel. 

Prosecutors gave chilling details in court Thursday of how they believe David Tronnes killed his spouse and about the state of their marriage at the time, NBC-affiliated station WESH 2 reported.

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What is David Tronnes charged with?

Tronnes is charged with first-degree murder for allegedly killing his 39-year-old wife, Shanti Cooper-Tronnes, in 2018. He's pleaded not guilty in the case. His attorneys previously argued that he wasn't competent to stand trial due to a schizophrenia, but a judge rule him mentally fit enough for the proceedings to move forward, according to local news station ClickOrlando.com.

Cooper-Tronnes was found dead in the Orlando home that they had been renovating in hopes of it being featured on a reality TV show.

"This home show, this Zombie House Flipping, was the lifeline out of this mess," a state prosecutor said Thursday of the couple's finance-related disagreements, according to WESH.

Prosecutors added that the couple met online and Tronnes bought the house, located in the neighborhood of Delaney Park, for $600,000 in cash, but never added his wife's name as a co-owner. Tronnes lived in one area of the home, while Cooper-Tronnes lived in another area with her son from a prior marriage. 

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While Tronnes was hopeful that the chance to have the home featured on the reality show would bring in some money, his wife was upset that she was paying all the bills yet didn't own the house, the state argued.

"You're going to hear her demeanor at that time," a prosector said Thursday. "She was not into this."

David Tronnes allegedly pretended to be rich, while his wife paid the bills

Police believed that one of the reasons Cooper-Tronnes was drawn to her husband was because he presented himself as rich, and that she may have eventually figured out that he wasn't, People reported in 2018.

“He always talked about how he had a ton of money, but she couldn’t figure out why he was such a miser,” Melissa Burzinski, a friend of Cooper-Tronnes, allegedly told police.

“Dave was doing things that was [ticking] her off as it pertains to money,” Burzinski added.

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The friend also told authorities that Cooper-Tronnes told her that her husband had wanted to just pay a third of the rent for a home they previously shared, reasoning that he was living in the house with two others, Cooper-Tronnes and her son, according to People.

Tronnes also allegedly had an issue with buying groceries.

Family members of Cooper-Tronnes also told police after her death that her husband hesitated to pay for things despite implying he was wealthy. Her dad, Kishian Matani, told authorities he was under the impression that Tronnes had received an inheritance of $4 million to $6 million from his dad.

Another relative said that Cooper-Tronnes was the one forking over money for things like moving vans and television sets.

What happened to Shanti Cooper-Tronnes?

On April 24, 2018, Tronnes told authorities that he'd found his wife unconscious in a bathtub in their home and believed that she fell. However, prosectors say that Tronnes savagely beat his wife, cracking her skull and strangling her, according to WESH.

"There's blood all over her face, a huge wound, bruising around her neck," a state prosecutor said, adding, "There are scrapes from her legs from being dragged."

Prosectors added Thursday that Cooper-Tronnes' engagement ring was missing after she died, later to be found at Tronnes' mother's house, where he was living. 

WESH reported that Cooper-Tronnes' son was in court Thursday, and that family members directed him to a notepad in his lap whenever graphic photos were shown.