Jury selection is expected to begin Monday in the attempted murder case against Patchita Tennant, the woman accused of shooting her estranged boyfriend during a domestic dispute in September at a Flanders home.
During a brief conference in court in Riverside Thursday, New York State Supreme Court Justice John Collins told the parties that he expects to call 150 jurors Monday to begin the first round of questioning.
Ms. Tennant, 42, is accused of shooting her estranged boyfriend, Andrew Silas Mitchell, 46, three times, twice in the chest and once in the arm. She was initially charged with first-degree assault and criminal use of a firearm and later arraigned on upgraded charges, including attempted murder and assault with intent to cause physical injury with a weapon.
The shooting incident occurred on Thursday, Sept. 5, shortly before 8:20 p.m., when police were called to the home on Pleasure Drive that Ms. Tennant previously shared with Mr. Mitchell. Police were advised to be on the lookout for Ms. Tennant, who was reported to have fled the scene with the couple’s 3-year-old daughter.
The search for Ms. Tennant and the child, which led police to issue a statewide Amber Alert, spanned about 18 hours. The child was located with a family member late the next morning and Ms. Tennant, whose vehicle was found in Middle Island, turned herself in to Southampton Town police. She remains free on a $500,000 bond.
During Thursday’s court appearance, Judge Collins also made several rulings on whether to allow certain elements to be introduced to the jury during the trial. An admission made by Ms. Tennant to Mr. Mitchell in August regarding cutting wires to cameras at the Pleasure Drive home will be allowed to be presented during the trial.
The judge denied a motion made by prosecutors to introduce testimony regarding an alleged incident regarding a boat owned by Mr. Mitchell, remarking that the evidence is “particularly speculative.”
Speaking to reporters after the conference, defense attorney Matthew Tuohy of Huntington said speculation that Ms. Tennant attempted to do something to Mr. Mitchell’s boat was irrelevant to the case.
“There’s no proof of it,” he said.
He did however consent to evidence about cutting the wires to the home’s security system.
“[Mr. Mitchell] was constantly following her and watching her. She was just fed up with it,” Mr. Tuohy said.
He expects both Mr. Mitchell and Ms. Tennant to take the stand during the trial, which he anticipates will last two weeks.
Ms. Tennant maintains her innocence.
Prosecutors have 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, whom she accused of having an affair. Assistant District Attorney Eric Aboulafia said Ms. Tennant, who had recently been living in Riverhead, banged on a door and screamed “I’m going to kill you.”
Mr. Mitchell then allegedly grabbed a .38 caliber handgun and the two wrestled over the gun, which went off, hitting Mr. Mitchell, according to the prosecutor.
Mr. Tuohy said Thursday that he feels they have a strong case.
“She’s a victim here,” he said, adding that Ms. Tennant has put up with years of abuse because they have a child together and are financially tied.
“It was his gun and he’s tried to manipulate the whole situation,” Mr. Tuohy said. “It was a life or death situation for her.”
As jury selection commences, Mr. Tuohy said he will be looking for intelligent people.
“People who are reasonable and look at the whole situation, not people who make snap-second judgments and have their minds made up,” he said. “[Ms. Tennant] is credible. She’s honest. She’s a nice person and people are going to see that.”
If convicted on the top charge, Ms. Tennant could face up to 25 years in prison.