Andrew Silas Mitchell, who was shot three times with a .38-caliber snub-nosed revolver at the couple’s Pleasure Drive home in Flanders, told the jury he remembers thinking at the time, “I’ve got to get the gun from her, or she is going to kill me.”
During his testimony, the ex-boyfriend said an enraged Tennant “busted open” the locked master bathroom door and “held the gun with two hands, pointing it at me.” “You think I’m joking?” Mitchell said Tennant told him, before she fired the first shot, striking him in the chest and piercing his lung.
Mitchell, known as Silas, said Tennant then ran back into the bedroom and around the bed before jumping on top of it and firing the gun a second time, piercing his chest and lung, again. He said he lunged at her, and the couple wrestled for the gun. Mitchell got his finger on the trigger and kept squeezing it until there were no more bullets left in the chamber. The two then rolled off the bed and onto the floor before Mitchell said he gained control of the revolver. Tennant ran off right after, Mitchell said. He was also struck once in the arm, though it is not clear when that shot was fired.
Tennant’s defense attorneys, Matt Touhy and Austin Manghan, are not disputing the fact that Tennant shot Mitchell. It’s the circumstances and Mitchell’s narrative of the shooting they are challenging.
Saying he had never been physically abusive to Tennant, Mitchell did confess he is “strict.” He also admitted to philandering. Mitchell said he made solo trips to the Caribbean every year. In June of 2019, during a trip to Saint Vincent, he was introduced via text message to a woman named LaToya. He said their relationship evolved quickly.
“We had a sexual relationship,” Mitchell said.
He decided to bring LaToya back to the East End, where he rented a cottage in Riverhead for her, and gave her a job working as a bookkeeper for his construction company. The sexual relationship with LaToya continued, and he took a trip with her to Rhode Island, telling Tennant he was on a business trip. Mitchell said he didn’t tell Tennant about the relationship because he “didn’t want to hurt her feelings.”
Mitchell was first questioned by prosecuting attorney Eric Aboulafia, during which time the Grenadian native told the jury he is a builder who works on projects across the East End, from Water Mill to Montauk. He is currently managing a project at an estate on Further Lane in Amagansett, among others.
He said he was driving on Newtown Lane in 2000 or 2001 when he first saw the 5-foot, 10-inch Tennant, who also goes by Patricia and Susie, a name given to her by her grandmother. He pulled over and struck up a conversation. He said at the time Tennant was going back and forth to Jamaica, where she is from. Their relationship “evolved into romance,” which is when the two moved in together in a cottage in Flanders. Mitchell said Tennant maintains a U.S. work visa, while he is a legal resident of the country with a green card.
He also said while the pair were living together he married a woman in Indiana in 2004. Mitchell said Tennant knew about the marriage, which ended in 2008.
The U.S. citizenship status of the couple was an ongoing issue in their relationship. Mitchell told the jury he promised Tennant he would marry her when he becomes a citizen.
Mitchell said the couple jointly purchased their Pleasure Drive home in 2015. He told the jury he also keeps a boat in a local marina, where he would stay by himself every Friday night.
In 2016, Tennant gave birth to their daughter, Vanessa Mitchell, and, for some time, the couple was close. That relationship has since deteriorated, he said. There were three Nest security cameras inside the Flanders residence that Mitchell said he would monitor remotely to watch over his child, who he said is the most important person in the world to him.
In the early morning hours of August 10, Mitchell was notified the security cameras had been disabled. He said Tennant had cut the cables to the cameras. Mitchell ended up fixing the system, after first demanding that Tennant do so, and threatened to call the police on her. There were no surveillance cameras in the bedroom where the shooting took place.
During cross-examination, Mitchell was asked about his relationships and recollection of the events leading up to the September 5 shooting.
“You were honest with the woman in Indiana and you were honest with Ms. Tennant?” Touhy asked Mitchell. “The poor woman in Indiana had no idea.”
“I was not dishonest with her,” Mitchell responded. “I couldn’t keep up going there all the time, so we got divorced.”
Touhy then asked Mitchell how honest he was with Tennant about seeing other women.
“She did her thing, I did my thing,” Mitchell said. Touhy asked if Tennant ever saw another man during their relationship. Mitchell responded he once caught Tennant having lunch with a man in East Hampton.
Touhy also asked about the early August morning the surveillance camera cables were cut.
“You were with LaToya that Friday night?” Touhy asked, saying Mitchell was “monitoring” Tennant from his girlfriend’s house.
“She was planning to kill me,” he said. “I guess if I were home that night, she would have shot me.”
Mitchell said Tennant worked long hours several days a week as manager of the CVS on Pantigo Road in East Hampton, and that he and Tennant both took care of their child, who was with a nanny, Floria Nichola-Bautista, during the day while they were at work. Nichola-Bautista, one of 15 witnesses to testify so far, took the stand March 10.
Touhy said that Mitchell constantly sent text messages to Tennant and Nichola-Bautista criticizing their time spent with Vanessa, and the cleanliness of the house.
“You perceive things differently than other people do?” Touhy asked.
“I perceive the facts,” Mitchell answered, adding he treats women with respect.
Touhy once again brought up Mitchell secretly being with LaToya, saying, “Is that treating a woman with respect?”
The attorney then challenged Mitchell’s account of the night he was shot, first asking if it was his gun.
“It is not my gun,” Mitchell said. “I have never seen that gun before.”
Touhy asked Mitchell if, in fact, the couple had gotten into a heated argument before the shooting, and that Tennant had told him “I am not staying here tonight. I am leaving, and I am taking Vanessa.”
The attorney said that is when Mitchell pulled out the gun, telling Tennant she had to leave, but that she was not going to take their daughter with her.
“That is not true,” Mitchell said. “That never happened.”
Touhy questioned how Mitchell knew to squeeze the trigger to empty the gun of bullets during his struggle with Tennant over the weapon. Mitchell responded he’s seen movies with guns, and added, “I have used a gun once in my life, at a shooting range at Calverton.”
According to Touhy, it was Tennant who was fighting for her life, and that she shot Mitchell in self-defense.
While exiting the courtroom Mitchell said he has fully recovered from the shooting.
Tennant, who faces multiple felony charges, is expected to take the stand this week.