BRIDGEPORT — Jennifer Lawlor could not recall any specific aspects of her interactions with investigators following the 2018 murder of her daughter, Emily Todd, as she testified Tuesday at the trial of the man accused of his murder.

But she detailed the times she learned Todd, 25, would never return to her Bethel home after a frantic day of unreturned calls and texts on December 9, 2018.

“I was still sitting and trying to contact Emily, calling and texting and waiting for a response,” Lawlor said. “I looked out my window and there was just a stream of police vehicles coming down my street at the same time.”


“I was home alone with my little boy,” she said while being questioned by Assistant State’s Attorney Susan Campbell. “The police and the FBI got out of their cars and they came to my door with a file in their hands.”

She would come to learn that the file contained photos depicting tattoos and piercings on Todd’s body. Investigators did not show her photos of her daughter’s face, she said, because they told her it was “unrecognizable”.

“They let me know that much earlier today an unidentifiable female was found, and it was in a similar area to where the account withdrawals took place,” Lawlor said, his voice breaking. breaking at almost every word. “They thought it might be Emily. She was my daughter. »

She said the cops asked her to try to calm down as best she could so they could move quickly to catch her killer.

Lawlor said she did everything they asked, telling them Todd had a brief relationship which she recently ended – and the breakup “didn’t go down well”.

The man Todd dated was Brandon Roberts, now 29, whose murder trial began Monday in Bridgeport Superior Court before Judge Alex Hernandez.

Police say Todd called off the relationship, but Roberts convinced her to meet him one more time, luring him to the public boat launch area off Seaview Avenue before killing her with a single shot to the back of the head.

Lawlor took the witness stand for about three hours on Tuesday, describing his daughter, who worked as a recreation therapist at St. John Paul II assisted living facility in Danbury, as “a really sweet and kind person.”

She said Todd was “really good with people even when she didn’t have to be” – including Roberts, whom Todd gave money to fix his car and even asked his parents to allow him to move into the house after knowing him briefly. .

She said her daughter met Roberts, who was staying with relatives at a hotel in Stratford, on an online dating app.

Lawlor said she and her husband turned down the request — “That was a really quick no.” This caused some tension between them and the young woman seeking independence, with Todd threatening to live out of his car, before relenting and sending his mother an apologetic message.

Eventually, Lawlor said the brief relationship between Todd and Roberts soured. A week before his death, Todd called 911 to report that Roberts had threatened to kill himself.

Lawlor said Todd told him that Roberts asked him to lose his number and said “you put the cops on me”, calling it a swear word. She said Todd changed her phone number and blocked her on Instagram.

She described her daughter as scared and exhausted and tearfully recalled the last time she saw her alive – and the panic she felt the next morning when she couldn’t get her. locate before learning of his death.

“Overall, there was a lot of fear in me that week,” she told police in an interview after the murder.

After Lawlor’s testimony, State’s Attorney Joseph Corradino showed jury oversight that Roberts allegedly withdrew cash from ATMs at a United People’s Bank in Trumbull and a market on East Main. Street in Bridgeport after the murder.

The final witness to testify on Tuesday was Bradford Belcher, an uncle of Roberts, who allowed his nephew to use a room at the Quality Suites on South Avenue that he rented after his house flooded.

He recalls speaking to police after Todd’s death, identifying his picture at the Trumbull ATM and saying that investigators initially said they were looking for Roberts only in connection with a domestic violence incident.

“They told me he killed a girl and that shocked me,” Belcher said. “They didn’t tell me right away.”

He later said he spoke to his nephew on the phone after Roberts left for his father’s home in Shaker Heights, Ohio, where he was arrested six days after the murder and reportedly confessed to police.

“I’m sorry, Unc,” Belcher said, quoting his nephew.

Cross-examined by Assistant Public Defender Tracy Jo Mathis, he said at the time he told police that when he asked Roberts by phone what had happened, his nephew replied: “I do not know. I’m sorry, Unc, I don’t know.

Belcher said the 2017 death of Roberts’ mother from stomach cancer “really ruined it.”

“He wasn’t the same,” Belcher said. “He needed help.”

In previous hearings, Roberts’ attorneys have indicated that they will not challenge their client’s taped confession, but will instead raise a defense of extreme emotional disturbance.

Unlike the so-called insanity defense, if a jury is satisfied that Roberts was acting in extreme emotional distress, they could convict him of a lesser manslaughter charge.

Testimony in the case was due to resume Wednesday morning.

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