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Henrico man accused of shooting, killing neighbor walks free

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HENRICO, Va (WTVR) -- At 6:00 a.m. Michael Mabry, 25, of Lakeside in Henrico was released from the county jail after spending six months behind bars for the shooting death of his neighbor last year.

Dressed in a blue button-down shirt, Mabry left the jail as scheduled.  He had little to say to CBS 6 Reporter Jerrita Patterson, except "I'm free, it feels good to be out."

Earlier this week Mabry entered an Alford Plea to a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.  The plea didn't mean he admitted guilt, but it acknowledges there is sufficient evidence in the case.

Mabry was facing charges for second-degree murder for shooting and killing Donald Sims, 62.  According to reports Mabry and Sims were arguing last year, over noise Mabry and his younger brother were making with their dirt bikes.  The argument eventually escalated into a deadly shooting.

Mabry claimed the shooting was self-defense.  But prosecutors argued Mabry was not afraid, citing Sims was unarmed when he was shot.

"It was self-defense," Mabry said following his release.

A judge declared a mistrial, after a jury of seven women and five men came back as a hung jury following seven and a half hours of deliberation.  This past Tuesday after entering his plea, a judge sentenced Mabry to five years in jail with four years and six months suspended.  Because he received credit for time served, he was allowed to go free Friday morning.

As part of his plea Mabry must stay out of trouble for 10 years or he will have to serve his full sentence.  CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone said both the prosecution and the defense team benefits from the agreement.

"He's getting his freedom and he doesn't have to have that risk of going to trial and having a lot of time to serve," Stone said.  "The prosecutor, what they get is a guaranteed conviction, he's on probation and then they have time hanging over his head to try and keep him in line in the future.  So each side gets something out of it on a negotiated plea."

Just before Mabry got into the passenger side of a pickup truck outside the Henrico County Jail to leave, he had a message for the Sims family, "my condolences to the family.  I'm sorry for everything that happened."

Mabry was facing up to 40 years in prison, if he had been convicted of the original charge of second degree murder.