AUGUSTA — A Winslow man is expected to plead guilty to manslaughter in connection with the shooting death of 26-year-old Justin V. Smith, of South China, last December outside a pub in Waterville.

Matthew Partridge, 30, charged with murder, waived his right to a jury trial last Thursday.

Now he is scheduled to plead guilty at 8 a.m. Wednesday in Kennebec County Superior Court to manslaughter rather than murder in Smith’s death.

Both the state and Partridge’s attorney Pamela Ames intend to recommend a sentence of 25 years in prison with all but 15 years suspended and four years’ probation, according to Deputy Attorney General William Stokes.

Stokes cautioned today that both the manslaughter plea and the recommended sentence are subject to approval by the judge.

“Like most of these cases, it’s not done until it’s done,” Stokes said.

He said the plea to the lesser charge minimizes the risks of going to trial.

“This resolved the risk from our point of view and theirs and resolves it in a way that is fair to both sides,” Stokes said.

Ames said the attorney general’s office opened negotiations on the plea on July 29 after initially rejecting repeated her overtures to do so, as well as the court’s.

“As the defense team, we always believed that for the state, at best, this always was a manslaughter,” she said.

Stokes said Smith’s family has been kept informed about the progress of the case.

Partridge has been held in jail since his arrest the night of the shooting.

Partridge was in the same courtroom recently as Dr. Margaret Greenwald, the state’s chief medical examiner, gave a deposition behind closed doors, presumably about the autopsy that provided the cause of Smith’s death. According to a state police affidavit, Greenwald told officers previously that Smith had died from a single gunshot wound to the head.

Smith was shot about 11 p.m. Dec. 4 outside You Know Who’s Pub following a brief altercation between two groups of men. Partridge pleaded not guilty to the murder charge and said he shot Smith in self-defense.

According to accounts of witnesses and Partridge, the initial altercation began outside the pub on The Concourse in Waterville and then Partridge and a friend got into Partridge’s truck.

Ames said Smith blocked Partridge’s truck from leaving and then punched Partridge in the nose so hard that Partridge believed his nose was broken. That’s why Partridge shot Smith, she said.

Partridge drove off and was stopped 20 minutes later by a state trooper. According to an affidavit by a state police detective, Partridge told the trooper about the shooting and said, “Like I don’t even know why he punched me in the face. I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631
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