Possible trial for man accused of shooting Wilkes-Barre woman

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(WBRE/WYOU) — Was it murder or was it an accident?

That’s the question at the heart of a Luzerne County homicide investigation. A Philadelphia man is accused of murdering his girlfriend and taking off to Philadelphia. Tuesday, he was in district court to face homicide and theft charges.

Prosecutors say 18-year-old Zien Council shot and killed 26-year-old Brittany Reynolds and then stole her car and gun and fled to his hometown of Philadelphia. But Council insists the shooting was an accident. Council had nothing to say as he was brought to district court in Wilkes-Barre Tuesday afternoon.

Prosecutors argue that Council shot Reynolds in the back of the head inside her Matson Avenue apartment on December 17th and then fled to Philadelphia. Her body was found several days later by police after her mother called police to do a welfare check after not hearing from her for several days.

She had a pillow over her head and was shot once in the back of the head. A Wilkes-Barre detective testified that after Council was brought back to Wilkes-Barre that he wanted to talk with them about what happened.

He told them that he did not know a bullet was in the gun, that he and Reynolds were having what he called “playfighting” with the gun and about to have sex. When he pulled the trigger, the gun went off. Council’s lawyer talked about the case moments after Tuesday’s hearing.

“No indication from any witness that she was ever afraid of him, in fear of him, had any altercations with our client. It’s a tragedy. Our hearts go out to her family but it’s not a homicide case,” attorney Joe Yeager said.

But prosecutors say Council’s story just doesn’t add up. They ask if it were an accident, why did he flee to Philadelphia with Reynolds’ car and gun? A gun that she had purchased for self-protection.

District Judge Tom Malloy determined there was enough evidence to send the case to Luzerne County Court for trial. Prosecutors are not saying what the motive was for the murder.

Prosecutors have not yet made a decision as to whether they will seek the death penalty for Council.

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A man accused of murdering his girlfriend will head to county court for possible trial. 18-year-old Zien Council is accused of shooting 26-year-old Brittany Reynolds inside her Wilkes-Barre home.

Dramatic testimony Tuesday in district court, when, for the first time, since Reynolds’ murder, Council comes face to face with her family and friends. Council had nothing to say as he was brought to court Tuesday afternoon.

Prosecutors say on December 17th, he shot Reynolds in the back of the head and then fled to his hometown of Philadelphia. Her body was found several days later inside her Matson Avenue apartment by police.

This after her mother called police to do a welfare check when they did not hear from her. She had a pillow on her head and was shot once in the back of the head. Reynolds’ mother testified that it was not like her daughter not to return calls or text messages.

A detective testified that when they interviewed Council in Philadelphia, he said quote: “I never pulled the trigger on anybody.” At that point in time, prosecutors say Council was never told how she was killed. A judge ruled there was enough evidence to send the case to Luzerne County Court for trial.

“It’s a tragic case a death of a beautiful young woman. Certainly, it was unnecessary, very sad but we are prepared to do our job and move forward,” Assistant Luzerne County District Attorney Jarrett Ferrentino said.

Council was tracked down to Philadelphia. Police say he stole Reynolds’ car and her gun. A gun that she bought for self-protection. But defense lawyers say it was accidental and a detective testified Tuesday that Council, after he was brought back to Wilkes-Barre, insisted that the shooting was accidental.

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