A Baldwin man admitted responsibility Friday for an ex-business associate’s 2015 shooting death in a case where he first claimed he acted in self-defense when a gun went off during a struggle.
Nassau Supervising Judge Christopher Quinn told Nathan Barnwell, 48, that he would sentence him to 9 years in prison after the man agreed to plead guilty to first-degree manslaughter — the top charge against him.
Authorities have said Barnwell fatally shot father-of-three Winfield Gillespie, 39, of Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, in the early morning of Sept. 5, 2015, on Woodoak Drive in Baldwin.
Gillespie suffered a single gunshot to the upper part of one leg, had significant bleeding and died hours later at a hospital, according to prosecutors.
The district attorney’s office has said the victim went to Barnwell’s home to talk about a business transaction after the two crossed paths on the night of Sept. 4 at a nearby restaurant, several months after they had stopped talking.
Barnwell and Gillespie had been involved in multiple business deals involving real estate and cars but their relationship had soured by that time, according to authorities.
Prosecutors said Barnwell shot Gillespie outside Barnwell’s home as the two men argued. A grand jury later indicted Barnwell on the manslaughter count, along with two weapon offenses and an evidence tampering charge. He was facing up to 25 years in prison on the top charge.
Defense attorney John A. Scarpa Jr. told Newsday following his client’s indictment that Gillespie had pulled out a gun and pointed it at Barnwell after coming to Barnwell’s home while drunk and accusing him of being disloyal in business matters.
Gillespie had showed up at Barnwell’s house and begun ringing the doorbell while Barnwell was in bed, about an hour after Barnwell and his wife saw Gillespie’s car outside a restaurant where they had dinner, according to Scarpa.
The defense lawyer said Barnwell struggled with Gillespie and the weapon discharged.
Police have said Barnwell then hid the gun. Scarpa said his client panicked after the shooting and drove to Queens.
The defense attorney said police found the gun several blocks from Barnwell’s home, but that his client didn’t remember doing anything with the weapon.
Assistant District Attorney Daryl Levy on Friday asked for a 12-year prison sentence.
But the judge, who will sentence Barnwell on Jan. 3, said in court he considered information about the possibility of self-defense and forensic evidence when deciding on a 9-year prison term.
Barnwell remains free on $600,000 bond.
Scarpa said after court Friday that his client pleaded guilty after he “made the decision that he would rather know, with precision, what his life was going to be like for the next several years.”
Prosecutors declined to comment.