A grand jury has indicted a Brooklyn man on a murder charge, and another man stands accused of taking the alleged murder weapon from him after a deadly February shooting in Hempstead, authorities said Friday.
Court records show James Wilson, 35, pleaded not guilty Thursday to a second-degree murder count and weapon charges during an arraignment in Nassau County Court.
Prosecutors have alleged Wilson opened fire at about 3 a.m. on Feb. 18 in the doorway of 100 Terrace Ave., shooting Matthew Gilreath, 28, of Hempstead, in the head, face and chest after Wilson approached him and started a conversation.
Wilson fired his gun at least six times, the Nassau district attorney's office said Friday.
At some point during the shooting, Gilreath fired back at Wilson, hitting him at least once in the abdomen, according to prosecutors.
A spokeswoman for Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said her office wouldn't comment at this time on any alleged motive for the shooting.
But Wilson's Huntington attorney, Christopher Cassar, claimed Friday that Gilreath approached his client wearing a mask and with a gun in his sweatshirt pocket.
Gilreath then started an argument with Wilson, grabbing at his necklace chains and shooting Wilson with the gun still in his sweatshirt, the defense attorney said.
Cassar described his client as the victim of an attempted rip-off but said he still was investigating if it was a third party who shot Gilreath and not his client.
"My client was shot so he doesn't recall exactly what happened," Cassar said, adding that Gilreath was found still wearing a mask and with a gun in his possession.
Prosecutors said Gilreath was later pronounced dead at a hospital, while Wilson was treated for a gunshot wound at a different hospital.
Prosecutors also alleged Friday that after the shooting, Raphael Carter, 31, of Hempstead, took the gun Wilson used in the slaying and brought it back to his own apartment. Singas' office said authorities never found that weapon.
Carter pleaded not guilty March 26 to an indictment charging him with criminal weapon possession, hindering prosecution and tampering with physical evidence, court records show.
Carter's Mineola attorney, Jeffrey Groder, said Friday he was conducting an investigation on his client's behalf and that it was too early for him to comment on the case.