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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Man pleads guilty in shooting death

Terry Sheets, arrested in charged with murder, pleaded guilty to amended charges Thursday morning in Elkhart's Circuit Court.

Posted on Oct. 24, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on Oct. 24, 2013 at 6:54 p.m.

GOSHEN — An Elkhart man pleaded guilty Thursday, Oct. 24, in Elkhart Circuit Court to charges related to another man’s shooting death this spring.

Terry Sheets, 26, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and criminal recklessness in the April 20 fatal shooting of Matthew Bark, 24. Sheets had been charged with murder but attorneys revised the charges prior to Thursday’s court appearance.

Sheets agreed to a sentence of 20 years in prison and 10 years on probation. He will also be required to pay restitution.

He will serve concurrently 18 months in prison for his criminal recklessness charge.

The shooting happened in an apartment Sheets and Bark shared at 2801 Toledo Road, Apt. 1517.

According to the probable cause affidavit for his arrest, Sheets stayed at the scene after he shot Bark. He told investigators that he was trying to defend himself and a witness who had been arguing with Bark.

Sheets told police he was home when he heard Bark and his girlfriend, Nary Try, arguing, grabbed a handgun and pointed it at Bark.

Bark took a shotgun out of his closet and pointed it at Sheets, yelling to drop the handgun. Sheets shot Bark.

Try told police she took the handgun from sheets and called 911. Bark was taken to Memorial Hospital in South Bend, where he was pronounced dead.

During interrogation, Sheets admitted that he could have left the apartment during the altercation between Bark and Try, and that he had the option of calling police if he felt Try was in danger.

However, he maintained that he shot Bark in self-defense. He said he kept the handgun, a Glock Model 21, on top of a refrigerator, with 12 rounds in the magazine and without a round in the chamber. He kept the round out of the chamber to “... Have an extra second to think about it. To make a choice.”

Sheets fired a total of five shots, according to the affidavit. Two of the rounds hit Bark, and two others were lodged into the apartment walls and were unrecoverable.

A fifth round went through the mattress in a neighboring apartment and was found underneath the bed.

The charge of criminal recklessness was added because “he created a substantial risk for bodily injury,” according to the amended charge.

Judge Terry Shewmaker scheduled Sheets’ sentencing hearing for 8:30 a.m. Dec. 12.

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