Hempfield murder trial delayed |

Hempfield murder trial delayed

Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Allen Eugene Trent, 53, is arraigned at the office of District Judge Mark Mansour in Hempfield, Pa.on Monday Feb. 13, 2017.

The September murder trial for a Hempfield man accused of killing his live-in girlfriend was delayed Thursday to allow his defense time to hire a DNA expert.

Allen Eugene Trent, 54, is charged with homicide for the Feb. 12, 2017, shooting death of 61-year-old Frances Smith in the couple’s Waycross Road home.

Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court Judge Rita Hathaway, following a hearing Thursday, agreed to delay the case until at least March.

Donna McClelland, an assistant public defender, said her office plans to hire a specialist to review DNA evidence collected at the murder scene. DNA found near Smith’s body does not match her or the Trent, she said.

“We need to determine whose DNA it is. We’re not willing to say there was someone else there, but what I’m saying is we don’t know,” McClelland said.

According to court records, Trent called police after Smith was shot and killed.

Police, responding to a suicide call, found Smith’s body in her bed with a wound to her left cheek.

Witnesses said Trent and Smith spent that day drinking at two local social clubs and later argued.

According to police, Trent claimed that when the couple, who had been in a 12-year relationship, continued to argue after returning home. Testimony during a preliminary hearing last year revealed that Trent told investigators he took a revolver from the living room and went with the weapon into the bedroom when Smith asked him about the gun.

The revolver discharged as she pulled at his arm, Trent told police.

McClelland declined to reveal the defense Trent will use at the trial, only that her client wants the case to be resolved as soon as possible.

Assistant District Attorney Jim Lazar said Smith’s family also wants the case to conclude.

“The family is always present (in court) and they also want it done,” Lazar said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-830-6293 or [email protected].

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