Trinity Copeland murder trial begins - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Trinity Copeland murder trial begins

Posted: Updated: April 16, 2014 12:03 PM

TROY, N.Y. - Opening statements in the trial of a Troy woman accused of killing her father began on Wednesday.

Trinity Copeland was charged with second-degree murder in connection to the death of her father, Harlan Copeland. 

Copeland kept her head down in court Wednesday, at times wiping away tears as first the prosecution and then the defense presented opening statements. 

The prosecution says the teen stole her father's ATM card and made purchases totaling $150 with it. Authorities say the bank had just alerted Harlan. The defense didn't deny that Copeland, then just 17-years old, pulled the trigger -- but they had a different story. Her attorney says the evidence will show Harlan had a drinking problem and that he was drunk that morning and Trinity was in danger. 

The prosecution, however, told the jury that Copeland initially told a neighbor and police that someone broke into the apartment and shot her father.

According to the prosecution, Copeland showed no emotion and later changed her story.

"There was no phantom burglar, there was no stranger at all. It was the defendant. She shot her father in the head. She shot him as he lay down on the couch, sound asleep, defenseless," said Assistant District Attorney Shane Hug.

However, the defense told the jury that Copeland had no choice and reminded them that there are times when you have to use force to protect yourself.

"The proof is going to show that she had no choice. That's the only thing she could do under those circumstances or she would not have survived the moment," explained defense attorney Michael Feit.

Copeland spent about 10 months behind bars after she admitted to the shooting, but she was released from the Rensselaer County Jail in May 2013, when the original murder indictment against her was dropped. Rensselaer County District Attorney Richard McNally said the court found prosecutors failed to properly instruct grand jury.

In September of 2013 she was re-arraigned on charges of second-degree Murder and first-degree Manslaughter, to which she plead not guilty.

Authorities say Harlan Copeland was found with one gunshot wound to the head. A firearm, believed to be the weapon involved, was recovered at scene.

Jurors were selected Tuesday.

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