Defense attorney explains why he believes JPSO sergeant's death was suicide

Defense attorney explains why he believes JPSO sergeant's death was suicide
Updated: Jul. 11, 2018 at 9:41 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - Attorney Leo Palazzo is representing Shantel Wagner, who also worked as a secretary for his law firm. Wagner is accused of killing her husband, Sergeant Troy Smith. Smith was an instructor and hostage negotiator with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office.

"This was a suicide and not a homicide. Troy was a friend of mine too. I loved him, and this just broke my heart," says Palazzo.

Deputies say Wagner called them out to the couple's Waggaman home at 11:25 P.M. on June 17, Father's Day night, stating Smith had attempted suicide.

Investigators found Smith in a bedroom suffering from a single gunshot wound to the head. He was hospitalized for a week before he passed away. Detectives now say forensic evidence and interviews show Smith's injury was not self-inflicted.

"It doesn't make sense to me," says Palazzo.

Palazzo says Wagner told him that on the night of the incident, Smith was upset, was dealing with depression and was suicidal.

"This was Father's Day. My appreciation he didn't receive any calls from his children. He might have had too much alcohol and I think he just broke. He just broke," says Palazzo.

Before working with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, Smith was a member of the NOPD.

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

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

"He was definitely a career officer, dedicated and in the military too. He's not the kind of guy you would think would take this route," says Hessler.

A neighbor told FOX 8, on the night of the incident, she heard the couple arguing.

"I was in the kitchen and all I heard was some hollering and screaming, banging around and stuff," says Karen Lonadier.

"I think the evidence will show that they probably had a normal marriage where they had ups and downs. During this particular night, they were arguing," says Palazzo.

Wagner remains locked up on a half a million dollar bond for one count of second-degree murder. Bond is set at $500,000.

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