Trial begins for Troy teenager accused of murder

Posted at: 04/16/2014 12:42 PM
Updated at: 04/16/2014 6:42 PM
By: Kumi Tucker

Trinity Copeland wipes away tears at the beginning of her murder trial in Troy.
Trinity Copeland wipes away tears at the beginning of her murder trial in Troy.

TROY -- Trinity Copeland wiped away tears during opening arguments before Rensselaer County Court Judge Andrew Ceresia.

By some accounts, she is a smart girl who had everything going for her.

Prosecutors say that in July, 2012, when she was 17 years old, she shot her father, Harlan Copeland, in the head with a rifle as he lay sleeping on a couch in his boxer shorts in their Seventh Avenue apartment in Troy.

The prosecutor said that in the time after first responders were called for the shooting death, Copeland never shed a tear, and he described her interaction with an officer at the scene.

"The defendant ran up to him. She said to him on two occasions, not, 'How is my dad? Is he okay?' What she said to him, folks, was, "Is he dead yet." Is he dead yet. Twice," said Rensselaer County Assistant District Attorney Shane Hug.

Police say she told a neighbor and officers that someone broke in, got into an argument with her father and shot him. Copeland's attorney said it was her father himself who told her to say that.

The defense asked jurors to pay close attention to what Trinity has to say about the hours leading up to her father's death.

"Why this would happen. Why Trinity would shoot her father. She had no choice. I believe that the proof is going to show that she had no choice. That's the only thing that she could do under those circumstances or she would not have survived the moment," said defense attorney Michael Feit.

Prosecutors say that two days before the death, she took her father's debit card from his wallet and used it to take out $154. The defense says his death was not about her fear of punishment.

Copeland is charged with murder and manslaughter, and she is expected to testify.

The prosecution's case will continue Thursday morning.