David Tronnes was sentenced to life for murdering Shanti Cooper-Tronnes, who discovered he had lied about his fortune
A jury found a Florida man guilty of first-degree murder for killing his wife after she refused to appear on the reality TV show Zombie House Flipping with him, and after he was exposed for lying about inheriting millions, according to reports.
David Tronnes was sentenced to life in prison by a judge on Wednesday for the 2018 murder of Shanti Cooper-Tronnes, who was found covered in blood and partially submerged in a bathtub in their Orlando, Fla., home, WESH 2, FOX 35 Orlando and the Orlando Sentinel report.
Tronnes — who initially claimed his wife slipped and fell in the bathtub — previously pleaded not guilty and was found mentally competent to stand trial earlier this year despite a diagnosis of schizophrenia.
When Cooper-Tronnes married Tronnes, she believed he had inherited between $4 and $6 million dollars from his father, PEOPLE reported previously.
But after the wedding, she kept getting stuck with all the bills, people close to her recalled after she was brutally beaten and strangled in the Florida home Tronnes had spent money renovating for the reality TV show Zombie House Flipping.
A news release from the state attorney’s office obtained by the Orlando Sentinel states, “Cooper-Tronnes’ refusal to appear on the show upset Tronnes to the point that it led to her murder."
Tronnes had told police that on the day of the murder, he had pulled her from the tub and carried her to the living room — although they were both dry when emergency responders arrived minutes later.
A medical examiner later found that Cooper-Tronnes died from blunt force trauma to the head and strangulation. Four months after her death, her fake millionaire husband was arrested and charged with her murder.
Authorities have alleged that Tronnes killed his wife of about a year in their Orlando neighborhood after she learned he not only did not have the millions she thought he did, but he also allegedly had a penchant for going to bathhouses for anonymous sex with men.
“We all thought we knew David Tronnes,” a friend of Tronnes previously told PEOPLE. “Come to find out, what we knew was a facade. He was living a total lie.”
When the trial began last week, News6 WKMG reporter Emily McLeod wrote on X (formerly Twitter) from inside the courtroom and reported that in opening statements prosecutors said that the couple began fighting in 2017 over their home renovation project, which prosecutors coined a “money pit.”
In interviews with police, friends and relatives have called Tronnes “a miser” and claimed the wife, who was 11 years younger than him, married him for his money but ultimately “bought everything.” Tronnes even refused to pay more than one-third of the rent on a house they had previously shared because her young son also lived there, her friend Melissa Burzinski later alleged to police.
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