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Woman pleads not guilty in fatal church shooting

A Bucks County woman pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of first-degree murder and possession of a weapon in the shooting death of a fellow church member this year.

Mary Jane Fonder, 65, would face life in prison if convicted of killing Rhonda Smith, 42, in Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Springfield Township, Bucks County, on Jan. 23.

Fonder's attorney, Michael Applebaum, said he believes police made a "horrible" mistake in arresting his client. He said he thinks Fonder "is an honest individual . . . a kind individual," and he expects her to be vindicated at her scheduled August trial.

Prosecutors say Fonder had romantic feelings for her pastor and was jealous that Smith, a volunteer secretary, was getting attention from him. Fonder has been in prison since her April 1 arrest.

- AP