NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The woman charged in the murder of her Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office sergeant husband is expected to enter a plea Friday (Nov. 9). A grand jury indicted Shantel Parria Wagner on second-degree murder charges.
Already, Wagner’s mother, Tevan Welch, says it feels like a conviction.
"It's just destroying her entire life," said Welch.
Wagner has been in jail since July.
“She misses her children dearly, and her family,” Welch said.
Deputies took her into custody close to a month after her husband, Sgt. Troy Smith, died in what investigators call murder. Welch and Wagner say it was suicide.
“I truly think it was a suicide. It may have been an accident on his part, but he shot himself,” said Welch.
Father’s Day 2018, a frantic Wagner speaks with a dispatcher after calling 911. She tells the man that her husband, Sgt. Smith, shot himself. Wagner and her attorneys say he was suffering from PTSD, depression, marital issues and financial trouble. The couple filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy on June 1.
Even so, Smith's friends find suicide hard to believe.
“He was definitely a career officer, dedicated, and in the military also. He’s not the kind of guy you would think would take this route,” said friend Eric Hessler.
Detectives didn’t buy it either. During a preliminary hearing, the lead investigator told a judge there were inconsistencies in Wagner’s story, like where the gun was positioned. That, plus Wagner’s account of the events didn’t line up with scene reconstruction.
Yet Welch says she doesn’t believe her daughter is capable of murder.
“I think the truth will come out, and I truly know in my heart she’s innocent,” Welch said.
Wagner is being held on a $750,000 bond.