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Nov 15, 2019 12:41 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Defense Denies New Allegations In Flanders Shooting Case

Patchita Tennant outside her arraignment in September. COURTESY TIM GANNON/RIVERHEAD NEWS-REVIEW
Nov 19, 2019 2:24 PM

Details presented by Assistant District Attorney Eric Aboulafia in court last week may paint a grim picture of the drama that led to violence in Patchita Tennant and Andrew Mitchell’s Flanders house in September.

It’s a picture that Ms. Tennant’s defense attorney, Austin Manghan, didn’t expect to see — and one he strongly denied.

Mr. Mitchell, 46, was shaving in the bathroom of the couple’s Pleasure Drive home when Ms. Tennant kicked the door open, accused him of cheating on her and threatened to kill him, Mr. Aboulafia told the court on Thursday, November 14, at Ms. Tennant’s arraignment in Suffolk County Supreme Court in Riverhead.

Accused of shooting her estranged boyfriend, Ms. Tennant, 42, pleaded not guilty last week to two new felony charges before Justice John Collins. She originally had been charged with first degree assault and criminal use of a firearm when she turned herself in to Southampton Town Police on September 5. On October 31, a grand jury handed up an indictment articulating additional counts of attempted murder and assault in the second degree.

The narrative Mr. Aboulafia offered of the events of the morning of September 4 is a new one, according to Mr. Manghan. “I guess they did some investigating,” he said following the arraignment. “The statements made in court this morning are new to me. It’s a different story than the one told at her initial arraignment.

“Our story has never changed,” the defense attorney continued. “In the house that day, my client was attacked.”

It wasn’t the first time, he contends: A longtime victim of alleged domestic abuse at the hands of her boyfriend, Ms. Tennant was at the house that Wednesday morning to pick up clothes. She, and her 3-year-old daughter, had been staying with her sister and, Mr. Manghan said, “just needed some items.”

But when she got to the house, Mr. Mitchell attacked her, he attorney said. He was the one who went for the .38 caliber gun. The pair wrestled with it and it fell to the floor.

“She was fighting for her life and the first to pick up the gun,” Mr. Manghan said.

“In a state of shock and fear,” according to the attorney, Ms. Tennant fired the gun, striking Mr. Mitchell three times. When she realized what had happened, Mr. Manghan continued, “she dropped the gun and left.”

The Amber Alert issued after Ms. Tennant fled the scene raises questions, Mr. Manghan said. It indicated that Ms. Tennant was armed and dangerous and had kidnapped a child. But her daughter wasn’t in the car or the house when the shooting occurred, and Ms. Tennant didn’t have the gun, he said. Mr. Manghan suggested Mr. Mitchell got police to issue the alert.

Ms. Tennant turned herself in to police later that day.

While the court case proceeds, Ms. Tennant is free on $500,000 cash bail. A native of Jamaica, she’d applied for a passport renewal prior the incident, Mr. Manghan said. On Thursday, Justice Collins directed Mr. Manghan to take possession of the renewed passport when it arrives in the mail.

In the meantime, support for the defendant continues unabated, her attorney said. Mr. Manghan said friends and acquaintances “come out in droves” to attend court appearances in a show of solidarity. On Thursday, some 30 or 40 supporters packed the courtroom, he reported.

Ms. Tennant is due back in court December 12 for a conference.

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