A guilty plea comes two years and one day after a shooting outside a Jones Senior High School basketball game.
James Cuthbertson pleaded guilty this afternoon in a Jacksonville courtroom.
He was sentenced to 17-1/2 to 22 years, and given credit for the two years already served behind bars. Cuthbertson will also have to pay $11,000 in restitution.
Cuthbertson admitted killing 23-year-old Shamel Baker in the high school parking lot after the game when a fight broke out.
In court, prosecutors say Baker was shot in the back, with the bullet going all the way through his chest. They say before the shooting, Cuthbertson was removed from the game for acting unruly and later admitted to shooting Baker.
Prosecutors say evidence shows the two men were part of gangs, while Cuthbertson's lawyer says the man acted in self defense, believing Baker also had a gun.
In court, Cuthbertson apologized to the victim's family. "I don't want people to think of me as a killer, I am a man of god, and thank my parents. I only wanted to protect myself that night. I was protecting my brothers and sisters."
The New Bern man also pleaded guilty to two unrelated robbery charges that happened in Craven County.