When 52-year-old Gregory Mitros of Manayunk entered a Criminal Justice Center courtroom for Tuesday morning’s preliminary hearing into his wife Lynda’s shooting death, he waved and briefly smiled to four rows of supporters on the other side of the bulletproof glass.
During the next 20 minutes, he’d waive the hearing itself since the basic facts of the case aren’t disputed, and hear that the charges against him were adjusted to third-degree murder, which made him eligible for bail. Judge Teresa Carr Deni then set $150,000 bail for Mitros, whose friends and relatives, who’d raised the $15,000 necessary to free him, immediately went down to the Criminal Justice Center basement to start that process.
When released, he’ll live with his sister and brother-in-law, around the corner from the Markle Street home where an apparent struggle involving a handgun resulted in Lynda Karlin-Mitros dying in her husband’s arms in the afternoon of June 20.
The judge set several conditions for release, including the removal of all firearms from the home where he’ll stay pending an Aug. 23 arraignment, barring Mitros from going to any bars or other establishments serving alcohol and not allowing any potential life-insurance money to be used for collateral.
“He shouldn’t have been in jail in the first place,” said Joe Genovese, the suspect’s brother-in-law. “Yeah, he drinks. He’s a happy guy; I’ve never seen him hurt anybody. This kid is so devastated.”
Mitros supporters and prosecutors seemingly agree this isn’t a case of premeditated murder. Both sides maintained that Mitros was trying to disarm his wife while wielding one of his guns on the stairwell in their home. During that struggle, the gun went off, sending a bullet into the 64-year-old woman’s jaw and through the top of her skull. Attorney Michael Quinn said Mitros held his wife in his arms as she died before calling police in shock, saying, “I shot my wife.”
After being taken to the Roundhouse later that day, Mitros gave a statement to that effect to investigators.
“The evidence in the case at this point is consistent with that version of events,” said assistant district attorney Brian Zarello after speaking with the victim’s son and daughter-in-law post-hearing.
“It’s consistent with a charge of third-degree [murder] based on everything I know,” Zarello said.
In the time since charges were filed, Mitros has lost his job as a shift supervisor in the utilities area at the University of Pennsylvania. In the hallway after the hearing, Quinn told supporters that today’s “mission was accomplished” from his perspective, but Mitros would be well served hiring an employment attorney to help get his job back as he awaits trial or a guilty plea.
Among the reports still pending is a toxicology report for the victim, which would indicate whether she’d been drinking prior to the argument on a day that she and her husband went to a cousin’s funeral. Alcohol and depression were mentioned as factors in a potential trial. A written statement from family friend Andrew Harasim recounted entering the Mitros home the morning after the death.
“I want to make it clear that I loved and will dearly miss Lynda Mitros. However, I am also sure that Greg Mitros did not intentionally shoot Lynda,” it read, noting that he found paperwork regarding “survivor death benefits,” signed savings bonds and bank-account numbers and passwords “in plain view as if they were meant to be found.” It also noted that Lynda traditionally made sure that her children got birthday cards on their actual birthday. This year, however, she sent cards a week early last month; the fatal struggle happened before the actual birthday.
Quinn initially sought a $100,000 bail, and Zarallo asked for $250,000. Mitros noted that he’d “never been arrested” in his life prior to this case.
Said Quinn, “This was just a horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible accident.”