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EXCLUSIVE: Mother of slain Bethel woman calls out justice system for failing to deliver justice

BETHEL — Emily Todd of Bethel turned to the internet to find the man of her dreams. What she found instead, was a man straight out of a nightmare. A nightmare t...

BETHEL — Emily Todd of Bethel turned to the internet to find the man of her dreams. What she found instead, was a man straight out of a nightmare. A nightmare that has haunted her family since her murder last year. Now, the family says the nightmare is getting worse, with a justice system that is failing Emily.

It was on a cold December day in 2018 when Emily Todd’s body was found face down by the boat ramp along Seaview Avenue in Bridgeport. She was shot execution style with a bullet to the back of the head and a single spent shell casing lying next to her.

Also on that beach were clues to her killer. Two boot prints were in the sand and her bank cards were stolen.

Emily’s mother Jennifer recalled when investigators showed up at her door. “Police officers, detectives, FBI guys. They walked across my front yard with the file. And I say the file, because that’s the file. That’s the photos.”

It was the day Emily Todd never returned home. “She just made everyone happy,” said Lawlor. “I think I knew right then because the terror that I had was indescribable.”

The terror was allegedly caused by 26 year old Brandon Roberts. Emily Todd was 25 years old. Her whole life was in front of her. “It is really hard to figure out how to live without Emily,” said Lawlor. She had the vibrant soul of an artist. “Emily is just such a good human being,” said Lawlor.

Emily briefly dated Roberts, whom she met online, before breaking it off. After her murder, Roberts fled to Ohio and was captured. From grief to rage. Jennifer turned emotion into strength. Now, she’s on a quest for Emily’s justice.

“For a case like this it will sometimes get a 60 year sentence, especially if you go to a trial,” remarked Attorney Jim Bergenn. But that’s the problem.

Brandon Roberts likely won’t be on trial. Roberts suggested he’d plead guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence. Attorney Jim Bergenn says Connecticut’s ‘Murder with Special Circumstances’ statute would be the only way to ensure Roberts gets locked up for life.

But none of those circumstances apply to the crime. “This one seems about as awful as it can be. It just doesn’t seem to be within those particular qualifications.”

Those qualification are:

  • The killing of certain first responders, law enforcement or judicial officers
  • Murder for hire
  • Previously convicted of murder
  • Murder committed by a kidnapper
  • Murder committed during first degree sexual assault
  • Murder of two or more persons at the same time
  • Murder of anyone under the age of 16.

Lawlor said, “In a workplace you can’t make a decision based on someone’s age gender or career choice. But this is how the state has decided was the most effective way to deal with murderers.”

Jennifer says she’ll being advocating for Emily’s law, to make murder in general subject to life behind bars. And while the final decision on if a reduced sentence is appropriate is ultimately up to the judge, lead prosecutor John Smriga told FOX61 they make a recommendation based on, “The nature of the crime, the range of penalties dictated by statute, the strength of the state’s case, the prior criminal record of the accused, and the opinion and attitude of the victim or victim’s family and any other relevant factors.”

Brandon Roberts will be back in Bridgeport Superior Court on January 28th where he is expected to plead guilty in exchange for 45 years in prison