Man sentenced to 65 years in prison in murder of woman he met on dating app
A Fairfield Judicial District judge called convicted killer Brandon Roberts dangerous, devoid of remorse and cruel as he handed down a 65-year sentence for the murder of Emily Todd Friday. The Bethel woman was found face down in the sand by the public boat ramp in Bridgeport in December 2018. Roberts was found guilty of murder, felony murder, robbery and carrying a pistol without a permit in April. He faced a maximum of 90 years in prison, which Todd’s family pushed for during the sentencing hearing.
Todd’s mom, Jenn Lawlor, gave a powerful and emotional to the court, during which she said her family has been living a life sentence for the past 3 1/2 years and asked Judge Alex Hernandez to give that to Roberts too.
“Emily and I both died, though it was only Emily who left the earth that day. Brandon ended the lives of many innocent human beings who remain here in endless sorrow when he shot and killed my child,” Lawlor said through tears. “He took so much. Brandon took the light from my eyes, the strength from my legs, the air from my lungs, the joy from my heart, the trust from my world and the faith in my God.”
Todd and Roberts met on a dating app and dated briefly before Todd ended it. In court, Lawlor called Roberts manipulative, abusive and lazy, saying all her daughter wanted was for him to leave town. Lawlor said she even had to change her cellphone number because of him.
But police said Roberts lured Todd to meet him one final time, during which he shot her in the back of the head, then stole her car, phone and bank cards, before fleeing the state. Lawlor recalled how she had to identify her daughter by pictures of her tattoos because the shooting left her unrecognizable.
“I’m asking you today to sentence Brandon to the fullest extent of the law that's within your power. I’m asking you that your sentence cause him to live his life without the hope of freedom,” she said.
Robert's' attorney, retired public defender Joseph Bruckman, countered that Roberts is sorry for what happened and has wanted to apologize to the family. Bruckman said the fact Roberts confessed to police when questioned should be considered in deciding his sentence. He also pointed out Roberts agreed to plead guilty to the charges in exchange for 45 years in January 2020. Todd's family vehemently objected to the deal, so it was rejected.
State’s Attorney Joseph Corradino called Roberts arrogant, angry and manipulative. Corradino stressed Roberts shows no contrition for what he did and pointed to Roberts' behavior in the courtroom when he was found guilty.
“When the jury returned its verdict and the defendant was being removed from the courtroom, he looked to the victim’s family and said, ‘I’m alive’ or ‘at least I’m alive,’ something like that. In other words, to compound their grief, to compound their loss, he pointed out that he lives and Emily dies, and I think all of those things taken together -- and again, I'm not a psychiatrist but -- are indicative of the personality of a psychopath,” Corradino said.
He told the court he believed Roberts was a “nascent serial killer,” who would continue to kill if given the opportunity.
“The thing that looms largest in this case is the incapacitation of the defendant so that he can't commit these types of crimes again,” Corradino said.
Hernandez agreed, saying Roberts needed to be isolated from the public, before sentencing Roberts to 65 years. Hernandez also agreed to a protective order, keeping Roberts from Lawlor, in the event he ever gets out.
On Friday, Roberts also pleaded guilty to a 2017 shooting in Bridgeport in exchange for 20 years. He previously confessed to both that shooting and Todd’s murder in an interview with police when he was captured in Ohio. That sentence will run concurrently with the judge's sentence.