A Portland man has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a fatal Bayside shooting last summer.

Tyrese Collins, now 20, was initially charged with murder in the death of Jack Wilson. Police said Collins shot Wilson, 45, during a June 2018 argument at an intersection near the Oxford Street Shelter in Portland. The incident was one of several violent crimes in the neighborhood that summer that prompted increased police patrols.

Collins, who was 19 at the time, pleaded not guilty in September 2018 and has been held in the Cumberland County Jail without bail for more than a year. He appeared at the Cumberland County Courthouse on Tuesday afternoon to plead guilty to the lesser charge. The benches of the courtroom were nearly empty.

The hearing on Tuesday also provided some of the first public details about the fatal confrontation, which took place after Collins intervened in an argument between Wilson and a different man whom Collins said he was trying to protect. Collins retrieved a gun from his car as the men argued, and he later told police he acted in self-defense when he shot Wilson.

A sentencing hearing will likely take place this winter. The maximum sentence for manslaughter is 30 years, but the Maine Attorney General’s Office agreed to seek no more than 15 years, with all but 10 suspended. The defense team will likely seek a lesser penalty, and the judge will ultimately decide the final sentence.

Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren said he believed Collins likely would have argued self-defense at trial but chose not to do so. When Warren spoke to him, Collins stood and clasped his hands behind his back. He wore an orange jail uniform, slip-on shoes and ankle restraints.

“At this point, manslaughter is a decision you’re making not because you’re agreeing that you exceeded the parameters of self-defense under Maine law, but because you believe it’s in your interest?” Warren asked. “Or do you actually think that although you thought you were acting in self-defense at the time, you realize now that you didn’t have the right to shoot Mr. Wilson?”

Tyrese Collins reviews paperwork with his attorney William Maselli before pleading guilty to manslaughter at the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland on Tuesday. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

“I believe it is in my best interest,” Collins answered.

The judge asked the defense lawyers – William Maselli and Erik Paulson – if they agreed. Maselli said they believed the most likely outcome at trial was a manslaughter conviction.

“We’re here acknowledging the way the verdict likely would have gone and protecting his future in terms of incarceration,” he told the judge.

Police released few details about the confrontation between the two men on June 26, 2018.

Little is known about Wilson except that he was living primarily at the shelter. People who remembered him there said he was hardworking and did not get into trouble. Initial police reports said a Portland officer was near the shelter at the time of the shooting and heard a gunshot. The officer ran to the area and administered first aid to Wilson, who was in critical condition with one gunshot wound to the stomach. Wilson died a week later at Maine Medical Center. The court file has been sealed for months, so documents like an affidavit have not been publicly accessible.

Assistant Attorney General Bud Ellis shared more information from the investigation during the hearing Tuesday.

Ellis said the police officer arrived at the scene to see people fleeing as Wilson stumbled to the ground. Ellis said many people who ran from the scene were never identified and did not come forward. Police interviewed the witnesses they could find and reviewed nearby security camera footage.

One witness told investigators that Wilson had been drinking that day and argued with another man, who was not Collins. Wilson accused the other man of having an affair with his girlfriend, and the witness told police that Wilson pulled out a knife and threatened to stab the other man. The witness said he believed he calmed Wilson down and then went into the shelter, but heard a gunshot 10 minutes later.

A security camera captured Collins and two friends arriving in the neighborhood. Ellis said Collins did not know Wilson, and he came to the area to find his mother. He encountered Wilson and the other man while they were arguing, and Collins told Wilson to leave the man alone. Investigators said they got into a verbal dispute, and Collins got a handgun from the car and returned to the argument.

Ellis said the two men then began to circle each other, and then the group moved out of the view of the camera. The video does not include sound, but people near the shelter suddenly duck and sprint. Collins and his friends are captured on camera again running back to the car. Witnesses offered different versions of the shooting itself and when Wilson brandished a knife. Collins later went to the police station for an interview, and he told police he acted in self-defense and later threw the gun into the river in Saco.

Investigators found two weapons at the scene. One was a fake gun with a blade sticking out of the end, which was found under Wilson’s body. The other was a knife with 3-inch blade, which was in Wilson’s hand.

“There’s no videotape of the final confrontation, the final shooting,” Ellis told the judge. “But we were getting those various statements about what exactly happened during those last seconds.”

His defense lawyer filed a motion to suppress statements Collins made to the police before his arrest, arguing that the detailed interview without a Miranda warning violated his rights. The judge denied that motion, Maselli said.

“There are strengths and weaknesses on both sides,” Maselli said before the plea hearing.

In February 2017, Collins was a senior captain of the basketball team for A.R. Gould, the educational component within Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland, and was featured in a Portland Press Herald article about the team’s appearance in a regional championship game. He accepted a plaque for the team in a post-game ceremony, and his coach and family praised his hard work. His juvenile record is not publicly available.

In February 2018, Collins was arrested in connection with a stabbing in Westbrook the previous November. He was released the following month on $250 cash bail and then placed back in custody for three weeks in May 2018. He pleaded guilty to violating conditions of release that month. He was out again on $500 bail when Wilson was shot, according to court records.

Cumberland County District Attorney Jonathan Sahrbeck attended the hearing because his office is handling the earlier stabbing case. He told the judge that case is still pending.

Both sides said family members from out of state will be attending the sentencing, and they anticipated a date in December or January. Warren said he wanted the attorneys to have time to prepare but encouraged them to schedule it as soon as possible.

“He probably deserves certainty as soon as he can get it,” Warren said of Collins.

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