Updated March 24, 2020
Patchita Tennant, an East Hampton CVS manager charged with attempted murder, broke down in tears when the foreman of the jury of nine women and three men announced it had found her not guilty of the crime, as well as of two other felony charges in the courtroom of New York State Supreme Court Justice John Collins Thursday, March 19. It took the jury less than six hours to reach their verdict.
“Thank you for being my rock,” Tennant said repeatedly to her sister Carol, as the two women hugged and cried outside the courtroom. “Thank you for everyone who supported me and believed in me.”
She credited her supporters in the courtroom throughout the trial for giving her the strength to see it through.
Tennant was facing up to 25 years in prison had she been convicted of attempting to murder her ex-boyfriend Andrew Silas Mitchell. She shot him three times with a .38-caliber snub-nosed revolver inside the couple’s Pleasure Drive home in Flanders the night of September 5, and said it was in self-defense. Two of those shots had punctured Mitchell’s lungs.
He and the prosecution team of Eric Aboulafia and Katharine D’Aquila made the case to the jury that Tennant had ambushed him while he was shaving inside the master bathroom.
Tennant, and her attorneys Austin Manghan and Matt Touhy, painted Mitchell as a serial misogynist who cheated on Tennant during their 19-year relationship, from which they have a daughter, and was physically abusive, too.
“You are listening to two different versions of events,” Touhy told the jury in his closing argument. “There is the Silas version, and there is Ms. Tennant’s.”
Touhy handled most of the cross-examination of the prosecution’s 20 witnesses, while Manghan played a pivotal role in the questioning of his client. Tennant took the stand for two days.
Beyond A Reasonable Doubt
Manghan and Touhy’s strategy for Tennant was simple yes, she shot him, but she shot him in self-defense. It was the defense lawyer’s belief that Mitchell’s credibility would not measure up to Tennant’s during testimony.
Tennant’s attorneys did not have to prove to the jury that Tennant had acted in self-defense. Rather, the burden of proof was 100 percent upon the prosecution, who had to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the shooting was not an act of self-defense.
After the not-guilty verdict was read, Tennant began crying, and hugged her attorneys. Touhy, whose aggressive cross-examination of Mitchell likely opened the door for the jurors to move toward acquittal, sat down on a bench, covered his eyes with his hands, and also began to cry. The trial lasted two-and-a-half weeks.
Addressing media following the conclusion of the trial, Tennant said she is looking forward to returning to work as the manager of the Pantigo Road CVS in East Hampton, where she has worked for almost two decades. She is currently on personal leave from the job.
Most important, Tennant said, she is looking forward to being able to reunite with her four-year-old daughter Vanessa, of whom Mitchell currently has custody. Tennant has only been allowed to see her daughter one hour a week since the shooting.
Her two days on the witness stand were emotionally grueling for her and her family.
On Wednesday, March 18, she described the abuse she said she had undergone, breaking down on the stand.
‘Lied About Everything’
Tennant began living with Mitchell in 2002, in Montauk, before he bought a house in Flanders.
Mitchell had told the jury that while living with Tennant, he married a woman in Indiana. Tennant said she never knew about that marriage, which ended in 2008, although Mitchell said she did. Tennant said her boyfriend always told her he was going to see his brother when he went to Indiana.
“He lied about everything,” she said.
When the couple purchased their Pleasure Drive home in 2014, $90,000 was required up front. Tennant said she paid $66,000 of the down payment, with Mitchell putting up the balance.
Yet, she said, Mitchell was very possessive about the house. If she bought sheets for the bedroom he did not like, she would have to get rid of them, she said.
“Once we moved in, it was his house,” Tennant said. “Everything was, ‘My house.’”
Mitchell also grew violent, she said. Tennant described a 2008 incident in which he struck her across the face.
“He doesn’t like it when you talk back,” she said. “After that, I moved out. I found an apartment in Hampton Bays, and I moved in with Kamishka.”
Kamishka O’Connor is Tennant’s niece.
The couple eventually reconciled, and when asked why she went back to Mitchell, Tennant said he was “attractive, charming, educated, and hard-working.”
While pregnant in November 2013, Tennant testified while in the kitchen with Mitchell during a disagreement “he grabbed me and slammed me against the refrigerator.”
She went to work at CVS, and when she arrived, her water broke. She called for O’Connor, who was working at the store, and the two went into the bathroom. Tennant took off her pants. “The little fetus was in my underwear,” she said.
At that point in Tennant’s testimony, O’Connor, who was seated in the courtroom, began sobbing, and left the room.
Tennant said she was hemorrhaging blood badly and had to be hospitalized. After the incident, Mitchell and Tennant reconciled yet again.
In 2016, Tennant gave birth to Vanessa. For a time, the couple became closer, but that soon ended.
In 2019, Tennant went to Mitchell’s office in Water Mill. There was a woman working there.
“He was acting really weird,” Tennant said, adding she said hello to the woman, but, “she would not turn around.”
Mitchell started talking, she said.
“He started stuttering,” Tennant said, before getting the words out: “‘Hi. This is LaToya. This is Patchita. Patchita, my wife.’”
In his testimony, Mitchell said LaToya was his mistress, whom he said he never told Tennant about.
After buying the house, Mitchell installed surveillance cameras in two downstairs rooms. Tennant discovered them.
“I felt like a prisoner in my home,” she said, adding he would call her complaining about the tidiness of the house, and the way she was raising their daughter.
Recalling the night of September 5, Tennant said she went upstairs to the master bedroom, and said, “When I entered the bedroom, I saw him near to the side table.”
“I said, ‘Vanessa is with my sister.’ He said, ‘Why?’” Tennant said, adding Mitchell became confrontational. “I don’t know why you don’t get the f*** out and leave me with my daughter,” she said Mitchell told her.
“He shoved me in the face,” she said, saying she fell back onto the bed. He went into the bathroom, locking the door. She began knocking on the door, then kicked it, damaging the trim.
“I’m going to f***ing straighten you out,” Tennant said he shouted at her. Mitchell went into his closet and came back holding a gun, she said, grabbing her by the collar. Mitchell pointed it at her, saying, “I need to move on with my life, and I need my daughter,” Tennant testified. She grabbed his wrist, and the two wrestled for the weapon, she said. He tripped over a table and fell to the floor, dropping it. Tennant got her hands on the gun, and when Mitchell came at her, she said she squeezed the trigger.
“All I know is I kept squeezing,” Tennant said. “He kept coming, and I squeezed again.”
After she was acquitted of attempted murder on March 19, she exhaled outside the courtroom, knowing it was all over.
“I’ve been out of my house for six months . . . my baby, for six months,” Tennant said, sobbing, hugging family and friends. “I’m free.”