Northampton County woman may be charged with murder 13 years after shooting neighbor

A woman who was convicted of shooting her neighbor more than a decade ago may be charged once again after the victim recently passed away from what the coroner described as injuries sustained during the 2005 incident.

Sixty-seven-year-old Brenda Smith served 13 years in prison for shooting and seriously wounding her Northampton Borough neighbor, 20-year-old Jennifer Hendershot, over a dispute involving one of the victim's dogs.

Northampton County First Deputy District Attorney Terrence Houck said, "She received a gunshot wound to the chest, recovers from that gunshot wound somewhat, until recently when she passed away."

Since the shooting, Hendershot put her life back together, got married and had two kids.

Last year, though, Hendershot started developing undisclosed medical issues. She died this past December at the age of 33.

Then, just few days ago, the Northampton County Coroner ruled Hendershot's death a homicide saying her passing was the result of injuries sustained when Smith shot her.

Now, the Northampton County District Attorney's Office must decide if Smith, who was just released from prison last September for attempted third degree murder, should now face murder charges.

Houck admitted that convincing a jury of what is referred to as a "delayed death prosecution" is very difficult.

"This is going to take re-interviews of people all of which will guide us toward where we want to go. We're going to have to talk to everyone again. So, there's a lot of work ahead of us," Houck said.

Officials from the District Attorney's Office said it will be weeks before they decide whether to pursue murder charges in this case.
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