The attorney for the Riverhead woman accused of shooting her estranged boyfriend and abducting their child said his client was acting in self defense.
Austin Manghan, the attorney for Patchita Tennant, 42, said the gun belonged to his client’s boyfriend and that she wrestled it away before shooting him.
Ms. Tennant pleaded not guilty Saturday morning at her arraignment in Southampton Town Justice Court on charges of first-degree assault and criminal use of a firearm, both Class B felonies that carry penalties of up to 25 years in jail.
Prosecutors said that on Thursday, Sept. 5, at about 8:20 p.m., police were called to a report of a shooting at a home on Pleasure Drive in Flanders, where they found Andrew Silas Mitchell, 46, shot three times, twice in the chest and once in the arm.
He was conscious and alert and able to tell officers that his girlfriend and the mother of his child, Ms. Tennant, had shot him during a domestic dispute.
Ms. Tennant had fled the scene with her three-year-old daughter and police issued an Amber Alert for her whereabouts.
Mr. Mitchell was airlifted to an undisclosed hospital for treatment of what police described as serious but not life-threatening injuries.
At Ms. Tennant’s arraignment Saturday morning before Judge Barbara Wilson, Mr. Manghan said the child was not present at the time of the shooting and that Ms. Tennant did not have the gun with her when she fled.
He said the gun belonged to Mr. Mitchell.
Assistant District Attorney Eric Aboulafia asked that two orders of protection be issued, urging Ms. Tennant to stay away from Mr. Mitchell and her daughter.
Ms. Manghan objected to the order of protection regarding the daughter, saying it would be “devastating” for Ms. Tennant if she makes bail and is not allowed to see her daughter.
Mr. Aboulafia said a Grand Jury notice has been issued, meaning the case will likely be shifted to County Court is Ms. Tennant is indicted.
He said Child Protective Services is investigating the case.
Mr. Aboulafia said Ms. Tennant and the couple’s daughter had been at a relative’s house when she realized she might not have enough clothes for her daughter and went alone to the house she owned with Mr. Mitchell to get more.
When she got there, an argument ensued with Mr. Mitchell, who she accused of having an affair. The prosecutor said Ms. Tennant, who had recently been living in Riverhead, banged on a door and screamed “I’m going to kill you.”
Mr. Mitchell grabbed a .38 caliber handgun and the two wrestled over the gun, which went off, hitting Mr. Mitchell, according to the prosecutor.
Mr. Manghan said Ms. Tennant had never seen the gun before and was unaware that Mr. Mitchell owned it. Prosecutors said the gun was not properly registered or licensed.
Mr. Manghan said that after Mr. Mitchell was shot, the gun was dropped on the floor and Ms. Tennant fled. He said Mr. Mitchell then tried to shoot her, but the gun had no more bullets.
Mr. Manghan said Ms. Tennant took off in a 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe and the gun was left behind in the house. She then went back to the relative’s house, where she retrieved the couple’s daughter and fled the area.
She eventually left the child with another relative and abandoned the car in a parking lot in Middle Island. She turned herself in to police Friday.
Mr. Mitchell suffered injuries to his lungs and diaphragm as a result of the shooting, Mr. Aboulafia said.
The prosecutor added that surveillance cameras from a CVS pharmacy also showed Ms. Tennant purchasing clothing and a “burner phone” — a pre-paid cell phone intended to be used a few times and then discarded — which led prosecutors to believe she was planning to leave the area.
Mr. Manghan said Mr. Mitchell has a history of abusing Ms. Tennant over the 10 years they were together, and that he will show in court that Mr. Mitchell “has a violent history.”
He also pointed out that there were a number of friends and relatives of Ms. Tennant at the court Saturday to support her and there was no one there in support of Mr. Mitchell.
Those relatives declined to speak with reporters outside the court.
Mr. Manghan said Ms. Tennant has been a manager for nine years at the East Hampton pharmacy where she has worked for 25 years.
Judge Wilson set bail at $250,000 cash or $500,000 bond.
Ms. Tennant is due back in court on Thursday, Sept. 12.
Caption: Patchita Tennant is taken to her arraignment in Southampton Justice Court Saturday. (Credit: Tim Gannon)