A Brooklyn man has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for shooting and killing someone who shot him during an argument in Hempstead.
The altercation happened on Feb. 18, 2019, at 2:44 a.m., as Matthew Gilreath, 28, of Hempstead, was standing in the doorway of an apartment building at 100 Terrace Ave. That’s when “an argument broke out with the defendant," James Wilson, the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office wrote in a news release.
"Wilson fired six shots, striking Gilreath twice in the head, and continued to fire as Gilreath’s body was falling to the ground,” according to the news release.
Wilson was shot once in the abdomen by Gilreath during the altercation, according to the release.
“James Wilson made the choice to resolve an argument with 28-year-old Matthew Gilreath with extreme violence — shooting him twice in the head. Wilson continued shooting as his victim’s limp body fell to the ground, ensuring that he had inflicted maximum damage. Now, with this prison sentence, Wilson has been held accountable for this brazen and senseless murder,” the district attorney, Anne Donnelly, said in a news release.
Wilson, 38, who had been convicted in March, was sentenced Wednesday before Judge Howard Sturim on charges that include second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon.
Wilson’s attorney, Christopher Cassar of Huntington, said in an interview Friday that his client was acting in self-defense after Gilreath tried to rob him and opened fire first.
“It’s undisputed that the decedent here shot him in the stomach. The decedent had a mask and had his gun inside of his sweatshirt and fired his gun, concealed in the pocket of his sweatshirt,” Cassar said, adding: “The decedent’s gun jammed — and but for that gun jamming my client would be dead — and then my client returned fire.”
In 2009, Cassar noted, Gilreath was among two robbers who stuck up Hofstra students. Prison records show he served prison time for robbery.
In the 2019 case, Cassar said that the two men knew each other, and that Gilreath’s mother at one point raised Wilson when he was younger.
“They were childhood friends,” Cassar said.
Co-defendant Raphael Carter, 34, of Hempstead, pleaded guilty in September 2020 to taking the gun from Wilson and bringing it to his apartment, the release said. The gun was never found.
Cassar said that Wilson, who is married, lost organs in the shooting but has since recovered.
Gilreath’s family couldn't be reached for comment, nor could Carter, who was paroled May 27, 2021, from a medium-security state prison in upstate Ulster County, according to state prison records.