Family seeks justice after daughter shot and killed

Published 2:52 pm Wednesday, April 5, 2023

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“We are not going away, we will not be silent”

POLK COUNTY–Tryon and the surrounding communities have been rocked by the violent death of Talia Petoia, age 27, who was shot by her boyfriend Tyler Laughter while at the home of his mother and stepfather on the night of March 10. 

Petoia was pronounced dead at Spartanburg Regional Hospital later that night. 

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Laughter claims that he was attempting to discharge his gun at the time of the incident when Petoia was shot in the chest, according to authorities. He has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the case.

From the onset, Petoia’s family says that it asked Polk County Sheriff’s Office for help from the SBI to investigate the shooting, and says that both Sheriff Timothy Wright and Detective Huckabee assured them that they had no issue with SBI involvement, as they said that they wanted as many eyes on the case as possible. 

In spite of these reassurances, the SBI was not called in, the family says. 

“I have always supported the police, but I feel like local law enforcement has failed in their investigation. I am so disheartened by this,” Julie Daniels, Petoia’s mother, told the Bulletin last week. 

The family says it communicated its concerns to current District Attorney Andrew Murray, who also has not authorized SBI involvement, according to Daniels. 

The family is concerned with adequate justice, and says that Laughter has a history of domestic violence with their daughter and two other women, adding that they believe their concerns have been dismissed by law enforcement and the district attorney. 

Daniels has contacted media outlets, including the Bulletin, to bring attention to the tragic death of her daughter. The Bulletin first reported the shooting on Monday, March 13.

When she contacted WLOS, a news station located in Asheville, Daniels learned that they had reached out to the Polk County Sheriff’s office on March 13, three days after the shooting, and three days before the autopsy. The producer stated that they were told by the PCSO that the case was closed and ruled an accident, Daniels says.  

The Bulletin was also told by PCSO on March 13 that no foul play was suspected in the case.

Repeated calls to both Sheriff Tim Wright and District Attorney Andrew Murray have gone unanswered, the family says.

The family of Talia Petoia is continuing to seek justice for their daughter and says that they will persistently pursue all avenues of justice for Talia. They have started a GoFundMe page to raise funds for a private investigator and to help with legal fees.

“We are not going away, we will not be silent,” states Daniels.

Laughter’s first court appearance is scheduled for April 12.