An elderly man in Tuscaloosa County has pleaded guilty to killing a tenant he was trying to evict.
Matthew Barnes, 81, pleaded guilty to manslaughter last week in the death of 41-year-old Dawn Brewer. Barnes told FOX6 News Wednesday that the shooting was self-defense and not murder.
"I had to do what I had to do," Barnes said.
Barnes said he was in the process of evicting Brewer from his home on 10th Street in Northport when he says she threatened his life. Barnes said Brewer threw a hammer at him.
"When she drawed it, I let her have it," Barnes said. "I let her have that .22"
Barnes then said he pulled the trigger.
"I shot it twice. But I shot once up and I shot and hit the clock. I didn't try and hit her fully. I was trying to wing her in the side and hit the clock," Barnes said. "I didn't try to kill her. But I wanted her away from here."
We're told Brewer then left the house but fell down and died in the street. Barnes was initially charged with murder. But last week, nearly two years to the day of the shooting, Barnes pled guilty to manslaughter and will not spend any time behind bars.
A circuit court judge sentenced Barnes to 14 years of community corrections. We're told community corrections is more strict than just probation and Barnes will have to check in with authorities more often. Also, Barnes can't own a gun, consume alcohol and is subject to random drug tests.
To this day, Barnes still claims self defense and says he never meant to take Brewer's life.
The prosecutor in the case tells FOX6 Barnes went on trial for this shooting a few months ago but there was a hung jury. That prosecutor says they didn't think they could get a unanimous decision in a retrial. Prosecutors say Barnes' age and health problems also contributed to the community corrections sentence.
We're told Dawn Brewer's family isn't happy with Barnes' sentence because they lost someone near and dear to their hearts and they feel more justice is needed in this case.
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