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Jury reaches verdict in trial of teen accused of murder
A Rensselaer County jury found Trinity Copeland, 18, guilty of second degree murder Wednesday, leaving behind a lesser charge of first degree manslaughter. It took the jury less than four hours to reach a verdict.
You could see the worry on Copeland's face even before the verdict was read. The 18-year-old was just 17 years old when she shot and killed her father Harlan Copeland.
"It was a tough case. There really aren't any winners here today. This family has been torn apart by one family member killing another," said Shane Hug, Rensselaer County Assistant District Attorney.
Copeland's attorney said he didn't expect a decision made by the jury, so quick.
"Frankly, I was very surprised that the jury reached a guilty verdict as quickly as it did. I thought there were many issues to discuss," said Michael Fiet, the defense attorney.
Some of those issues, or evidence, included a videotape of Copeland speaking with police as well as her own testimony. She told the courtroom she was terrified for her life and felt she had no choice but to shoot her father. She testified that her father was mad about money she stole from his debit card and that he told her to shoot him or he would kill them both. The prosecution said that story didn't add up.
Legal expert Paul DerOhannsian said that in a case like this the defendant has to take the stand to try and convince the jury why they acted as they did.
"The risk is, in testifying, if there's something about your testimony the jury doesn't like, or finds that you are not telling the truth you will be punished for that," he said.
RENSSELAER COUNTY -- A jury in the case of a Troy teen accused of killing her father has found the girl guilty.
Trinity Copeland was charged with murder for the shooting death of her father. She testified on Tuesday that she and her father were close when she was growing up. She said their relationship started to change in the spring of 2012 when she was put on punishment and when she said he started to drink more often and become belligerent.
Copeland testified that the night she shot her father, he was angry over money she stole from him using his debit card. She said her father told her he would kill them both if she didn't kill him. Copeland said in court that she was hysterical and feared for her life. She said she felt she had no choice but to shoot her dad.
The prosecutor pushed her on that asking why, once she had the gun in her hand, she didn't run out a nearby door or try to call for help. She told him she didn't think of those things with her state of mind at that time.
In closing arguments Tuesday the prosecution argued again, that Copeland had a choice and didn't have to kill her father.
"Did she go into the bedroom, shut the door and call 911? She didn't do that either," said Shane Hug, Rensselaer County Assistant District Attorney as he spoke to the jury.
Copeland's defense attorney said in his closing arguments that Copeland had no choice. He said she acted out of fear and shock, otherwise she wouldn't have shot her dad.
"The people have not overcome the notion that she had no choice, and that she was justified," said Michael Fiet, the defense attorney.