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Riverhead woman found not guilty of all charges in attempted murder case

Patchita Tennant, the Riverhead woman accused of shooting her estranged boyfriend three times on Sept. 5 in Flanders, was found not guilty by a Suffolk County Court jury in Central Islip Thursday.

She faced felony charges of attempted murder, assault with a weapon, criminal use of a firearm and assault with intention to cause physical injury.

She was found not guilty on all charges. The top charge, attempted murder, is a class B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

The trial started March 10 and lasted seven days, not counting weekends, with the jury taking about five hours to make a decision.

The case had started at the State Supreme Court building in Riverside but was moved to Central Islip on Monday, March 16, as it was one of only three court cases allowed to continue due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Riverside court was closed and the remaining cases were moved to Central Islip.

“I’m happy for my client who deserves this verdict,” said Matthew Tuohy, one of two attorneys representing Ms. Tennant, following the verdict. “The prosecutors treated myself and my client with great respect and they were very professional. Judge [John] Collins is the best judge on the island.”

At one point, Judge Collins told the jury they were the best jury he’d ever seen, and he even bought them pizza so they wouldn’t have to leave the building, according to a report in the East Hampton Star.

Prosecutors Eric Aboulafia and Katharine D’Aquila argued that Ms. Tennant burst into a bathroom at the house she and Andrew Mitchell purchased together in Flanders and shouted, “If you’re not going to marry me, I’m going to kill you, and I’m going to kill myself,” before aiming a .38-caliber revolver at Mr. Mitchell and shooting him two times in the chest and once in the shoulder.

But Mr. 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.” 

He said that under state law, “it’s not her burden to prove anything.”

Mr. Tuohy described Ms. Tennant’s relationship with Mr. Mitchell as “toxic and abusive” at times.

“What it really came down to is who is more credible?” asked Mr. Tennant’s other attorney, Austin Manghan, after the ruling.

“Our client, Patchita Tennant or her boyfriend, Mr. Mitchell? The jury decided it was her.”

He said the prosecution presented over 25 witnesses while the defense produced only two. Both Ms. Tennant and Mr. Mitchell took the stand.