A Jefferson Parish magistrate commissioner found probable cause Tuesday to hold Shantel Parria-Smith in jail while she awaits possible charges stemming from the death of her husband, a Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office sergeant who died in June from a single gunshot wound to the head.
Commissioner Paul Schneider set bail at $300,000, which he said was lower than the $500,000 bail that would be typical for this kind of case.
Parria-Smith, 35, who has also used the last name Wagner, listened during a second day of testimony in 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna about the death of her husband, Troy Smith.
Her attorneys claim Smith took his own life after struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, a crumbling marriage and financial problems.
Smith was found on June 17 at their home on Camellia Lane in Waggaman with a single gunshot wound to the head. He died a short time later.
Police arrested Parria-Smith on July 11 and booked her on second-degree murder without elaborating on their case against her. District Attorney Paul Connick's office is still reviewing the case and has yet to seek a grand jury indictment.
Defense attorneys Leo Palazzo and Wiley Beevers tried to elicit testimony from Dana Troxclair, a forensic pathologist with the Coroner's Office, about whether Smith's wounds indicated he killed himself.
Those efforts were held in check by frequent objections from prosecutors Shannon Swaim and Kellie Rish. Schneider upheld the objections after ruling on Monday that Troxclair could testify only about what she observed during the autopsy, not about any conclusions she may have reached.
Troxclair testified that Smith's wounds indicated the bullet entered above his right ear and traveled slightly toward the back of his head and upward.
She said she has found no evidence of gunpowder burns or abrasions on Smith but added that her report is not final yet.
The defense attorneys questioned Chief Detective Timothy Scanlan, who re-creates crime scenes for the JPSO, about a bullet hole in the wall at the house. They were seeking to establish there is no proof that it wasn't there before June 17, but Scanlan said the evidence strongly suggests the bullet hole was made as a result of the shot that killed Smith, and that a fragment was found on the bed with drywall dust on it.
The defense did elicit testimony from Scanlan that none of Parria-Smith's DNA was found on the weapon, a fact Palazzo argued should keep his client out of jail until any charges are filed. He also said there are text messages that indicate Smith was contemplating suicide.
Rish, however, argued that any thoughts of suicide Smith may have expressed would be insufficient to suggest he ever followed through, and she pointed out that one of Parria-Smith's many conflicting statements included an admission she had shot her husband.
Schneider cited those conflicting accounts when he ruled Parria-Smith could be held in prison. As for the lower bail amount, he said he doubted either side would be happy about it.
Palazzo, who said he does not expect Parria-Smith to be able to make bond, said after the hearing that the case against his client was "bull" and that Smith, whom he knew, would be "turning over in his grave" if he knew his wife was accused of murdering him.
“How do you shoot someone without touching the gun?” Beevers added.