Prosecutors also allege that the couple had been fighting because David Tronnes had lied about being a multi-millionaire and was visiting bathhouses to have sex with men.
A Florida man is on trial for murdering his wife for refusing to participate in a house-flipping reality show.
55-year-old David Tronnes has been charged with first-degree murder for the death of his wife, 39-year-old Shanti Cooper-Tronnes, in April 2018. He pleaded not guilty, and the trial began last week.
Prosecutors allege that the couple had been renovating their house in Florida, which they termed a “money pit,” according to People. They were in talks to appear on a reality show called “Zombie House Flipping,” which Tronnes believed would increase the value of their home significantly.
“Zombie House Flipping” is a home renovation show on A&E. The show features old, abandoned homes, or “zombie houses,” that get renovated into high-value homes.
But Cooper-Tronnes was hesitant about the idea. She reportedly even walked out of a meeting with producers just a week before her death.
“This home show, this ‘Zombie House Flipping,’ was the lifeline out of this mess with this house that they’ve dug themselves into and she at that point a week before her murder was not into it,” said prosecutor Michael Smith, according to Inside Edition.
Cooper-Tronnes was found dead in the Tronnes’ home on April 24, 2018. When Tronnes called 911, he claimed she had slipped and fallen while getting into the bath. But first responders saw bruises on her neck and wounds on her face. She was completely dry, despite Tronnes’ claim that he had found her in the bathtub.
“They could immediately tell this wasn’t a fall, this was a violent attack,” Smith said. “There are multiple injuries, there’s blood all over her face, a huge wound. There’s bruising around her neck, there’s petechia that you can see and there’s scrapes on her legs from being [dragged].”
The medical examiner reported Cooper-Tronnes’s cause of death as strangulation and blunt-force trauma to the head, according to Daily Mail. Tronnes was arrested in August 2018.
Initially, Tronnes was ruled incompetent to stand trial, as he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. But in 2022, a judge found him competent after he began receiving treatment.
Tensions in the Tronnes’ marriage went beyond the home renovation project. When they got married, Cooper-Tronnes believed that Tronnes had inherited millions of dollars from his father. But after he purchased their Florida home for $600,000 — and left Cooper-Tronnes off the deed — he refused to pitch in financially.
“He always talked about how he had a ton of money, but she couldn’t figure out why he was such a miser,” Cooper-Tronnes’ friend Melissa Burzinski said shortly after her death, according to People.
Reportedly, he only wanted to pay for one-third of the rent on their previous home, saying that he was one of three people in the home, along with Cooper-Tronnes and her young son from a previous relationship. Tronnes also refused to pay for groceries or household items.
Prosecutors allege Cooper-Tronnes believed she was marrying a millionaire but found out that he had lied about his inheritance. They also claim the couple had been fighting because Tronnes had allegedly been going to spas and bathhouses to have sex with other men.
The trial is set to wrap up this week.
“We all thought we knew David Tronnes,” said a friend of Cooper-Tronnes. “Come to find out, what we knew was a facade. He was living a total lie.”
After reading about the murder of Shanti Cooper-Tronnes, read about the man wrongfully convicted of the murder of his wife and children. Or, read about the times reality shows have led people to murder.