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Wife of Louisiana deputy arrested for his murder that was originally reported as suicide

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Shantal Wagner, 35 and Sgt. Troy Smith, 44.

Faimon A Roberts III
The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.

Facebook posts paint a rosy picture of the life shared by Jefferson Parish Sheriff Deputy Troy Smith and his wife Shantel Wagner. But that picture was broken in a late night call to 911 on June 17, when Wagner reported that her husband had attempted suicide by shooting himself in the head.

After a week in a local hospital, Smith succumbed to his injuries. He was buried a week later.

Wednesday, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Wagner, 35, and booked her on a count of second degree murder.

The decision to arrest Wagner came deputies investigating the death began to have questions about Wagner’s account of the events leading to Troy Smith’s death, a JPSO spokesman said Wednesday morning in announcing the arrest.

Deputies determined that the wound was not self-inflicted and obtained a warrant for Wagner’s arrest.

Social media gives little evidence of discord in their relationship. Pictures on Wagner’s Facebook page show the couple smiling together at a formal event and over a birthday cake. According to an obituary published in The Advocate, Smith was a stepfather to Wagner’s two children, as well as father to two of his own.

Late Wednesday, Gretna attorney Leo Palazzo issued a statement saying that Wagner worked for his firm and that he knew Smith.

Troy Smith “suffered from PTSD” from his past service in the military and as an officer.

“We have evidence from the day he took his own life that he was depressed, had been drinking and taking muscle relaxers and had been engaging in dark, suicidal social media posts,” the statement says. “This was a suicide, not a homicide.”

Palazzo urged the district attorney’s office to refuse the charges against Wagner.

A message left at the firm was not returned.

A search of state business records shows that Smith and Wagner were listed on a consulting firm, CQB Consulting LLC, that provided tactical and concealed weapons training.

Smith was a highly-respected instructor at the JPSO’s training academy, and had also served as a negotiator on the Crisis Negotiations Team.

Before coming to the JPSO, Smith was a member of the New Orleans Police Department from Oct. 1995 until August 2011, a spokesman said. While there, he served as a part of the department’s Special Operations Division.

Two years ago, he enlisted in the Mississippi Guard, a volunteer force that primarily provides logistics and humanitarian aid during times of emergency, such as hurricanes and other disasters, a spokesman said. Smith distinguished himself as part of the Guard.

He joined the Mississippi Guard just two years ago, but in 2017 won awards from the state and national guard organizations.

In 2017, he won state and national awards as the non-commissioned officer of the year, said 1st Lt. Russ Jones. He had just recently received his officer’s commission and transferred to a unit headquartered in Jackson, Miss., where he was an Operations Training Officer.

Smith “was a really good soldier,” said 1st Lt. Russ Jones, of the Mississippi Guard. During his short tenure in the Mississippi Guard, Jones saw “the same level of dedication he displayed in his police work,” Jones said.

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©2018 The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.

Visit The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La. at www.theadvocate.com

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