Accused Killer Pleads Guilty To Manslaughter

Accused Killer Pleads Guilty To Manslaughter

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The Ogdensburg man accused of shooting and killing someone at his home in 2018 has reached a deal with prosecutors.

Jury selection for Michael Gagnon's murder trial was scheduled to get underway in St. Lawrence County Court Tuesday morning, but instead he admitted to killing Phillip Goolden and pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter.

Gagnon was facing a second-degree murder charge in the shooting death of the 50 year old Goolden at Gagnon's Jefferson Avenue home shortly after midnight on April 7, 2018.

Gagnon shot Goolden in the head with a single round from a .30-30 caliber lever-action Marlin rifle.

“It's like being the one responsible on pulling the plug off a life-lung. There's no win. There's no win … in this,” said Bridget Goolden, widow of victim Phillip Goolden.

She also said her husband's legacy lives on despite what Gagnon did.

 “He cannot take the memories and the life Phil left behind. He cannot take that from us.”

The plea deal calls for a 12-year prison sentence, minus the seven months Gagnon has already spent in jail. He will also serve five years' probation following his release from prison.

He faced 25 years if convicted of the murder charge.

District Attorney Gary Pasqua said the victim's family was consulted on the deal.

“The fact of the matter is is that the defendant has admitted to an intentional act. He's admitted to taking his 30-30, pointing it at Mr. Goolden, and firing a shot. That's what this plea signifies,” said Pasqua.

Judge Jerome Richards had rejected a plea deal that would have handed Gagnon a 10-year sentence.

In March, Gagnon's lawyer said the defense was considering asking for a bench trial, which would have meant a judge would have decided his guilt or innocence instead of a jury. 

Defense lawyers had planned to argue at trial that Gagnon killed in self-defense. They say after a night of drinking, Gagnon threw Goolden out of his house.

“Phil Goolden came back into the premises a few minutes after he was ejected and Michael defended himself,” said Steven Cohen, defense lawyer.

Prosecutors say they were ready to disprove all that at trial.

Gagnon's sentencing is set for July 8. 

The photo shows Gagnon waiting for his court proceedings Tuesday morning.

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