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Updated 3 hours ago
When Trooper Matthew Pergar arrived at a Hempfield home earlier this month, he found Frances Smith lying dead in her bed with a gunshot wound to the left cheek.
Smith's arms “were extended kind of way out in front of her,” and a gun was “positioned somewhat behind the knees of the victim,” Pergar testified Friday at a preliminary hearing for Smith's longtime boyfriend, Allen Eugene Trent, 53, who is accused of killing the 61-year-old woman.
The gun was somewhat obscured by blankets and bedsheets, Pergar testfied.
Trent was ordered to stand trial on a homicide count by District Judge Mark Mansour in connection with the Feb. 12 shooting at the couple's Waycross Road home. Police said the pair spent the afternoon and evening drinking at two social clubs before the shooting, which Trent reported as a suicide.
He winked at a supporter in the courtroom while waiting for the 25-minute hearing to begin. When Pergar testified that the bullet was “intertwined” in Smith's hair behind her left ear, Trent sighed and hung his head. He shook his head during some parts of testimony from Pergar and Trooper Joseph Lauricia, who said Trent gave investigators “multiple stories.”
Police were called to the couple's home just outside South Greensburg at 8:42 p.m. for a reported suicide, and Trent appeared to have scratches on his arms and blood stains on his clothing, according to court papers.
Trent told police during an interview that the pair, who had been in a relationship for 12 years, went to the South Greensburg Hunt Club about 2:30 p.m. Sunday and drank for a few hours, then moved on to the Midway-St. Clair VFD Club. They returned home at 7:30 or 8 p.m.
Smith was eating a fish sandwich when she “poked and scratched” Trent's chest and torso, Lauricia wrote in an affidavit.
During a police interview, Trent gave multiple accounts of what happened next.
Lauricia testified that Trent got a revolver from the living room and took it into the bedroom, where Smith had gone to sleep.
“He said that she asked, ‘What are you doing in here with that,'” Lauricia testified. “She said, ‘Put that away.'”
“He explained that she grabbed at his arm and the gun went off,” the trooper said.
Public defender Donna McClelland asked that the charge be dismissed.
“There's been no proof of a cause of death,” she said.
Assistant District Attorney Jim Lazar said evidence from the scene is clear that Smith was shot. An autopsy report is not complete.
“I apologize, but I think that's laughable,” he said in response to McClelland.
Trent remains in the Westmoreland County Prison without bail.
Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-837-5374 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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