Nicholas Barbee pleads guilty, child's mother talks about potential sentence

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Reporter - Elizabeth Fields
Photojournalist - David Dycus

PADUCAH, Ky. - Originally charged with 2nd degree manslaughter, in the shooting death of 3-year-old Braydion Matlock, Nicholas Barbee accepted a plea deal Thursday morning. He pleaded guilty to reckless homicide with a recommended sentence of five-years.

Barbee admitted to accidentally shooting his girlfriend's child on February 9. Maria Lopez, Matlock's mom, has appeared with Barbee at nearly every court appearance. Until Thursday, the couple has not commented on the case until the plea deal was accepted. 

Lopez told WPSD, "The only reason we accepted the plea is because of the kids. The less time he is away, the better it is." Lopez has two other children she says Barbee is helping her raise. 

Lopez said the past three months have been terribly hard on her and her family. She said she has her "angry days and sad days" and Barbee "has been her rock." As a result, she has tried to do the same for him.

"There is nothing they say or do that will punish Nick more than he punishes himself every day," she said.

She acknowledges that not everyone understands but said, "I'm doing what I know Braydion would want me to do, stand by his daddy."

Scott Matlock, Braydion's grandfather wouldn't talk much about how the boy's biological father feels about the plea deal, but told WPSD, he personally feels like with the deal "Nick feels some sort of responsibility." Matlock added that he feels it's time to start to try to move forward and doesn't "want to see any more lives ruined."

Barbee is waiting to comment until after his sentencing. All he would say is he loved Braydion as his own and "It was an accident."

Sentencing is scheduled for August 7.

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