Murder suspect Shantel Wagner's mother: 'I truly believe it was a suicide'

Murder suspect Shantel Wagner's mother: 'I truly believe it was a suicide'

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - "I just wish everyone would stop jumping to conclusions," says Tevan Welch.

Welch is Shantel Wagner's mother. Wagner is locked up, accused of killing her husband, JPSO Sgt. Troy Smith.

"They were both good people. No body is talking bad about Troy. We loved Troy. They both have children, and this is affecting all of the kids," says Welch.

The incident that led to Smith's death was first reported as an attempted suicide. Investigators were called to the couple's home in Waggaman on June 17 Father's Day night. They found Smith in a bedroom with a single gunshot wound to the head. He died a week later in the hospital.

Wednesday morning, detectives arrested Wagner for second-degree murder stating forensic evidence and interviews showed Smith's injury was not self- inflicted.

"I know Troy was depressed and he had PTSD. I truly believe it was a suicide, but I was not here, so I don't know exactly what happened," says Welch.

Smith was an instructor and hostage negotiator with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office. Before that, he was a SWAT team member and officer with the NOPD.

"He's a very dedicated and strong-willed and strong person all around. It's very shocking and all of his friend felt the same way," says friend Eric Hessler.

Smith's friends say Wagner's story of attempted suicide never added up.

"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," says Hessler.

Smith and Wagner married in 2016, and both had children from previous marriages.

Neighbors described them as happy, but the two were facing financial troubles. Smith and Wagner filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy on June 1, listing more than $291,000 in debt.

A neighbor told FOX 8 that she attended the funeral. She says Wagner approached her and said that Smith didn't commit suicide, but his death was an accident.

"From my understanding, he did shoot himself, and she didn't know if it was actually a suicide or an accident. When he pulled the gun up, it went off," says Welch.

FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti says this case will ultimately come down to science.

"These types of cases are driven by things like ballistics, gun powder residue on hands, the direction of the bullet. Because all you have is one witness - the defendant," Raspanti says.

"I just wish people would stop trying her and convicting her in the media. I mean, unfortunately at this point, we just have to wait and see what happens," says Welch.

Wagner remains locked up on a $500.000 bond.

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