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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Love-triangle
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: February 16, 2010
Date of arrest: Next day
Date of birth: October 8, 1965
Victim profile: Kelly Brennan, 46 (her estranged husband's lover)
Method of murder: Hitting with a hammer
Location: Indialantic, Brevard County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on September 17, 2014
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Brevard woman guilty in love-triangle murder, sentenced to life

By Andrew Ford -

September 17, 2014

Margret Byers watched her daughter stand as a jury said she was guilty of first-degree premeditated murder, and a judge sentenced to life in prison. Sheila Graham-Trott was accused of the February 2010 killing of Kelly Brennan, her estranged husband's lover.

Before the verdict, Byers recalled her daughter swimming in Georgian Bay in Ontario as a child. She loved the water. She moved to Brevard County to study oceanography. Byers said her daughter was not guilty.

Brennan's relatives declined to speak with FLORIDA TODAY, one woman said they miss her. They felt justice had been served.

The state said the case came down to comments Graham-Trott made on the night Brennan went missing.

Her sons testified she told them she had a dream Brennan had been hurt, then drove with them to a beach access near Mark's Landing in Melbourne Beach. They saw a body there, then drove to a vacant lot where Graham-Trott picked up a reusable Publix bag that was never recovered by police.

After they returned home, one of Graham-Trott's sons called Byers. Byers called 9-1-1 to report the incident, and a recording of her call was played as part of the state's closing argument.

Assistant State Attorney Samantha Barrett estimated Brennan died between a phone call she made at 7:48 p.m. and about 8:15, when she would have usually left home to get to an appointment with a personal trainer.

Barrett recalled testimony that the night Brennan died, Graham-Trott left her house at about 6 or 7 p.m., saying she needed to go to Walmart.

She suggested Graham-Trott waited in Brennan's yard on Cypress Street in Indialantic, then attacked from behind. While the associate medical examiner testified the injuries that ended Brennan's life were consistent with being hit with a hammer, no such weapon was ever found.

Though Graham-Trott weighed about 115 pounds at the time, Barrett said her size didn't matter. It wasn't a mutual fight.

Assistant State Attorney Jim McMaster described a possible scenario in which Graham-Trott wore a protective suit while committing the crime, then carefully cleaned up.

Barrett suggested Graham-Trott had time to move Brennan's body about 13 miles to where it was found. Barrett said Graham-Trott worked in real estate and could have accessed a lock box to a vacant property to clean up. Then she could have left Brennan's car where it was later found on Cato Court and walked about half a mile back to her own car at Brennan's home.

Barrett recalled Graham-Trott's son testifying she was acting strangely when he got home at about 10 or 10:30 that night.

The defense pointed to a lack of evidence tying Graham-Trott to the crime, instead suggesting Brennan's husband could have killed her. They pointed out the only sample police took from Brennan's yard, where the state said the killing took place, was tested at a lab and came back negative — it wasn't blood. Police didn't test blood found near Brennan's body, which the defense said could have belonged to her true attacker.

While awaiting the verdict, Graham-Trott's mother said her daughter has been a vegetarian since ninth grade because her bus stop was near an abattoir. She liked to garden and grew roses.

"It's hard in the heart," Byers said. "If she's found guilty, there's something very wrong with the system."

When a clerk read the verdict, Byers sat between Ariel Hill and one of Graham-Trott's sons, both of whom had testified about the night Brennan went missing. Graham-Trott was led away in handcuffs.

After the verdict, Byers left the courtroom, tears in her eyes. She was confronted in the hallway by a gaggle of reporters, lights shining on her as she walked to an elevator. For a moment, she looked back, but Hill pulled her away.


Defense rests in Brevard love triangle murder trial

By Andrew Ford -

September 15, 2014

Outside the presence of the jury who will decide if Sheila Graham-Trott is guilty of first-degree murder, and before they delivered their verdict, Judge James H. Earp made comments that the killing was premeditated and there's evidence that Graham-Trott admitted to the crime.

Graham-Trott is accused of killing Kelly Brennan, the lover of Graham-Trott's estranged husband.

After presenting a witness who said evidence should have been handled differently to prevent possible contamination, the defense rested their case. The jury was sent away for the evening, and the defense argued that the state hadn't proven premeditation and asked the judge to find their client not guilty.

The state countered by saying premeditation could be shown by injuries aimed at vital areas — Brennan died after suffering blunt injuries to the head consistent with being hit with a hammer, though no murder weapon was found. Brennan's car was moved and Graham-Trott's sons testified she appeared clean the night of the killing.

"Which suggests the planning of taking additional clothing or wearing protective clothing at the time of the struggle with the victim," Assistant State Attorney Jim McMaster said.

The judge denied the defense's effort.

"I think the conclusion is easy to reach, that this was a premeditated homicide," he said.

While discussing jury instructions, the judge said there was "direct evidence of an admission." Graham-Trott's sons testified she had a dream Brennan had been hurt, and then drove them to where her body had been taken.

Graham-Trott will appear in court Tuesday as both sides make their closing arguments, then the jury will be sent off to determine their verdict.


Failed plea deal in Graham-Trott love triangle trial

By Andrew Ford -

September 11, 2014

A failed plea deal delayed the start of testimony Thursday morning in the trial of the woman accused of killing her estranged husband's lover.

The state offered a deal to Sheila Graham-Trott, who is accused of first-degree murder, but she declined. The defense made a counter offer, but the state turned that down.

The trial carried on, with testimony from a crime scene investigator who found tire tracks, a drag mark and blood in the front yard of victim Kelly Brennan's Indialantic home.

Defense Attorney Mark Lanning pressed now-retired Brevard County Sheriff's Investigator Deborah Demers about the blood found in the drag mark. She field-tested the substance and found it was blood. But she didn't take a sample or a photo of the blood spot. She conceded the field test couldn't confirm the blood was human. She said it was from a mammal, but wasn't sure if the test would distinguish bird blood.

While photos of the victim's yard show many photo markers that were said to note spots of blood, only one sample was taken and sent to a lab. And that test came back negative.

The state showed the jury photos of blood spattered on the side and bumper of Brennan's Honda Passport.

With the jury sent outside the courtroom, Brevard County Sheriff's Sgt. Terry Laufenberg explained that he has training in reading the patterns of blood spatter. He opined that based on Brennan's head injuries and the spots on the car, she wasn't standing when the injuries were inflicted and her head was about two feet away.

But the judge didn't allow that testimony, as Laufenberg hadn't been properly established as an expert in court on the topic of blood spatter.

The jury returned, and Laufenberg narrated a series of photos of Brennan's car, noting spots the defense required him to refer to not as blood, but as "reddish brown" stains.

Investigators took samples of those stains, and testimony about those test results is expected Friday.


Two sons testify in Brevard mother's murder trial

By Andrew Ford -

September 10, 2014

Linda MacRae dabbed her eyes as crime scene photos of her friend's bloody body were projected larger than life during the trial of her accused killer, Sheila Graham-Trott.

"I tried to look away," MacRae said.

"She was beautiful," MacRae said of her friend, Kelly Brennan, who died in February 2010. "She lit up a room. She was charismatic."

In 2001, when MacRae divorced, Brennan and her husband came to MacRae's home with cans of paint. They painted her bedroom in her favorite colors — painting her ex out of her life.

Brennan, a registered nurse, was in a relationship with Daniel Trott, a former Indialantic mayor. The Trotts had been separated for years.

State prosecutors presented a series of photos to illustrate the crime scene, starting with bucolic aerial landscapes, transitioning to grotesque close-ups.

They called in the Brevard County Sheriff's Office helicopter pilot who found Brennan's body during a search. They showed photos taken from the chopper. The wide shots showed the waves near Mark's Landing in Melbourne Beach, a footpath, the area of brush where Brennan's body lay. At a lower altitude, a portion of Brennan's running shorts were visible.

BCSO chief pilot John Coppola testified he landed the helicopter nearby and ran to the body, thinking she might still be alive.

"It was quite evident from what I could see, the person had been struck in the head a number of times," he said.

A crime scene investigator narrated as photos were projected for the jury. Yellow police tape ringing the sand parking lot, the foot path, Brennan's legs sticking out from a stand of saw palmettos.

Then, Brennan on her back. Her stained sneakers, her heavily injured head, detail shots of her body.

"I could see that she had what appeared to be blood in her hair, and her hair was matted up," BSCO Crime Scene Investigator Candace Matthews said.

Matthews found blood on the ground leading through the foliage to Brennan. There was no sand on the bottom of her shoes, little on the back of her legs, more on her upper back. This suggests her legs were lifted off the ground and she may have been dragged by her feet.

Brennan was placed in a white bag with a medical examiner seal. She was number 0020406.

Graham-Trott's sons testified as part of the state's case against her.

Creighton Trott sat at an angle in the witness stand, facing away from his mother as he described how he came home from work one night after his brother called to say his mother had a seizure. They called paramedics and later took her to a hospital. In the middle of the night, she called out to them.

"Mom woke up, saying she had a dream that Kelly had been hurt," Creighton said.

He testified they drove with her to find a body near Mark's Landing.

The defense raised questions about her health and size — Graham-Trott stood about 5-foot-8 and weighed 115 pounds. They questioned her sons about whether she was covered in sand or blood and whether she smelled of cleaning chemicals that night.

They said she didn't.


Former Florida mayor's ex-wife on trial for 'beating his new girlfriend to death with a hammer'

  • Sheila Graham-Trott is accused of killing Kelly Brennan, a former friend who started dating her husband Dan Trott when the two separated in 2010

  • Dan Trott is the former mayor of Indialantic, Florida

  • Graham-Trott's sons took the stand on Tuesday to describe the day their mother led them to Brennan's body

  • The 48-year-old woman was pleaded not guilty

  • Her defense hopes to sway the journey into suspecting Brennan's husband could have played a role in her murder

  • She faces a charge of first-degree murder

By Ashley Collman for MailOnline

September 9, 2014

The wife of a former Florida mayor is in court this week, accused of beating his new girlfriend - and her former friend - to death with a hammer.

Sheila Graham-Trott, 48, was arrested in February 2010 for the first-degree murder of her friend Kelly Brennan, who betrayed her by dating her husband, former Indialantic Mayor Dan Trott, when the two separated. Graham-Trott's mother turned her into police four years ago when her daughter led family to Brennan's body.

But the defense is hoping to win the case, by proving that Graham-Trott wasn't the only person who had an interest in killing Brennan. They argue that her Brennan's husband, Gino Rallo, was heartbroken at their own impending divorce, enough to kill. Graham-Trott also has an alibi - surveillance footage which shows her at a Walgreen's at the time of Brennan's brutal murder.

On Tuesday, Graham-Trott's sons Creighton and Graham took the stand to testify about the day their mother led them to Brennan's body in a wooded area.

Brennan was reported missing when she didn't show up the gym, where she said she would meet her boyfriend Trott.

Creighton talked about coming home one evening, with his brother Graham worried that their mother was experiencing a seizure.

So they took her to the hospital, and she later woke up saying she had a dream Brennan had been hurt.

Eventually they drove with their mother to a wooded area called Mark's Landing where they found Brennan's butchered body.

'Graham called us over and he's like, "I think I see something". So we walked over and saw a body...just a shadow of a body that was in some sort of spandex work-out uniform.'

The two sons did not turn their mother in, but told her 'you're going to have to deal with this yourself. We're out of this' when they returned home.

Graham-Trott's mother eventually called police to report the murder.

The Trott sons' testimonies followed that of Gino Rallo on Monday, as the defense attempted to prove he was enraged after hearing of his wife's affair, and would have killed her so she wouldn't be with another man. They also say a large life insurance pay out could have been motivation.

Rallo and Brennan were also going through a divorce when she started seeing Trott, and allegedly the two got into a physical fight when she told her husband she was leaving the house.

'You started slamming her against the wall and putting your hands around her neck. Isn't that true Mr. Rallo?' the defense asked.

Rallo downplayed the fight, saying they 'wrestled in the garage' as they were having a discussion about her moving out.

However, Rallo did admit to being torn up at the break up with his wife of seven years, and said he never reconciled himself with their separation.

'Mr. Rallo, you loved your wife?' a defense attorney asked Rallo.

'Very much,' he said.

'Even after you found out she’d been cheating on you behind your back for several months?' the attorney asked.

'Yes,' Rallo said.

'You still wanted to be with her?' the attorney asked.

'Yes,' he said.

He said he did not kill his wife for $250,000 insurance money, when asked by the prosecution.

Graham-Trott has pleaded not guilty of Brennan's murder. She was married to Trott for 20 years.


Bail denied to Brevard woman charged with killing former friend

February 22, 2010

BREVARD COUNTY — A Brevard County judge on Friday denied bail to a 44-year-old Indialantic woman charged with killing her former friend.

Sheila Graham-Trott is facing first-degree murder charges in connection with the death of Holmes Regional Medical Center nurse Kelly Brennan.

Graham-Trott’s attorney Richard Riehl had requested a $10,000 bail and that his client be released before trial with an ankle bracelet and community supervision.

Her second court appearance is March 11 and a grand jury is scheduled to convene March 15.

Graham-Trott is a Realtor and the estranged wife of former Indialantic Mayor Daniel Trott.

Sheriff’s deputies said the body of Brennan, 46, was found Tuesday near a beach crossover south of Melbourne Beach.

“It was not in a place where people could easily spot her,” Lt. Tod Goodyear said. “There is some trauma to the body, but we do not know what caused the trauma.”

Court documents show the former mayor and his wife were in the process of getting a divorce. Brennan and her husband were also getting a divorce. Authorities said the couples were friends and were in a group that ran triathlons together.

Investigators have not yet found a weapon, but said Brennan had been hit in the head with an object.

On Tuesday, Graham-Trott began making odd statements to her two sons; they called their grandmother for help, investigators said.

Graham-Trott’s mother drove to her daughter’s home and asked questions. The mother, concerned about the answers she received, called 911 and told the operator her daughter had killed someone and gotten rid of the body somewhere in the area south of Melbourne Beach.



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