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Two versions of shooting emerge during opening statements of attempted murder trial

It was “he said, she said” Monday in the opening statements of the attempted murder trial of Patchita Tennant, the Riverhead woman accused of shooting her estranged boyfriend — and father of her child — three times in Flanders on Sept. 5, 2019.

“If you’re not going to marry me, I’m going to kill you, and I’m going to kill myself,” is what Assistant District Attorney Eric Aboulafia said Ms. Tennant yelled at Andrew Silas Mitchell before aiming a .38-caliber revolver at him and shooting him two times in the chest and once in shoulder.

He said Mr. Mitchell was still able to wrestle the gun from her and empty all of the bullets so he wouldn’t get shot again.

But Matthew Tuohy, the attorney for Ms. Tennant, said in his opening statement that no such scenario occurred. He said the case is “all about self defense,” and that “at the end of the day, it’s his story versus my client’s story” and that, under state law, “it’s not her burden to prove anything.”

He described their relationship as “toxic and abusive” at times.

One question that has yet to be answered is who the gun belonged to, as both have accused the other of owning it.

Both Ms. Tennant, 42, and Mr. Mitchell, 48, are expected to testify in the trial before County Court Judge John Collins in Riverside.

Ms. Tennant, who was a manager at the East Hampton CVS pharmacy, is charged with attempted murder, assault with a weapon, criminal use or possession of a firearm and assault with intention to cause physical injury. 

The top charge is a class B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

Mr. Aboulafia said that at about 8:20 p.m., Ms. Tennant was banging on the door of a bedroom in the house she and Mr. Mitchell owned on Pleasure Drive in Flanders, calling for Mr. Mitchell to come out.

She yelled that she was going to kill Mr. Mitchell and herself, and then burst through the door, according to Mr. Aboulafia. Ms. Tennant then took out a revolver and shot Mr. Mitchell. 

Mr. Mitchell was able to wrestle the gun way, despite fighting for his life, and Ms. Tennant took off in her gray 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe, prompting police to launch a multi-agency search and statewide Amber Alert for her, based in part on the belief that her 3-year-old daughter was in the car with her, which she was not. She had been left with a family member when Ms. Tennant went to Mr. Mitchell’s house, police said. Ms. Tennant turned herself in to police the following day. 

Mr. Aboulafia said that Ms. Tennant’s actions were motivated by jealousy and rage, because Mr. Mitchell would not marry her and was seeing other women.

Mr. Mitchell ran out of the house and called 911 at about 8:22 p.m. A 911 recording with Southampton Town Police indicated that he was beginning to lose consciousness while on the phone. His right lung was punctured, according to Mr. Aboulafia. 

Surveillance recordings from the Manorville CVS recorded Ms. Tennant buying a disposable cell phone, a large container of water, a new shirt and cleaning materials shortly after the shooting, according to Mr. Aboulafia.

After the shooting, the Hyundai Santa Fe that Ms. Tennant was driving was found abandoned in a shopping center parking lot in Middle Island.

Ms. Tennant had left her purse behind in the vehicle, and in it was a round of live ammunition, according to Mr. Aboulafia. He said the evidence will show that the shooting of Mr. Mitchell was premeditated and was done with the intent to cause serious physical injury or death. 

Mr. Tuohy said the shooting was done in self defense. He said there are only two witnesses to what happened — Mr. Mitchell and Ms. Tennant.

Mr. Tuohy said it was Mr. Mitchell who had the gun on the night of the shooting and that they both struggled to take possession of it, and Mr. Mitchell lost his balance and lost the gun to Ms. Tennant, who shot him in self-defense.

Mr. Tuohy said there is no evidence — other than what Mr. Mitchell said — that she yelled, “I will kill you and I will kill myself.”

He said she bought the disposable, pre-paid cell phone because it was her only means of communicating and is “not proof of anything.”

Police have said the gun was not legally registered.

Testimony began Monday after opening statements and will continue Tuesday before the trial resumes again on Thursday.