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Man is set free after 2017 gang gunfight

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The man prosecutors believe fired the shot that killed 38-year-old Dion Nixon in a March 2017 gang-related incident has served his last day in custody in connection with the death, after a plea deal to a count of reckless manslaughter was accepted by a judge Tuesday.

Gregory Clark, 39, was originally charged with first-degree murder, along with two co-defendants, but the murky circumstances of the shooting and witness accounts of the victim brandishing or actually firing a handgun before being gunned down made proving a murder charge impossible, Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein told the court.

There is "lots of conflicting information about the guns and who had them," Rubinstein told Mesa County District Judge Richard Gurley.

At least two witnesses said they saw Nixon pull a gun from his waistband and fire, and the facts of the fatal exchange, as well as the legal implications of how the shooting happened, made the murder case untenable, Rubinstein said.

"We think Mr. Nixon made a very poor decision" to confront Clark and other members of the Sin City Deciples motorcycle gang with a gun while intoxicated, Rubinstein told the court.

Clark's co-defendants, Richard Byrd, 49, and Rufus Billups, 42, are the alleged leaders of the local chapter of the gang, and Clark held a position equivalent to sergeant-at-arms in the group, his main job being to keep the gang from "getting into trouble," Rubinstein described. The night of the killing, the men were part of group of five men and four women who went to the James Park Trailer Court near North Avenue where Nixon lived, to confront him over a woman considered "property" of the gang. The woman complained to gang leaders that Nixon had been abusing her, which led to the fatal confrontation.

Gurley handed down a sentence of 90 days in jail, plus a 10-year term on probation, for Clark on Tuesday. Clark has already served 298 days in custody, so he's already served his time. Clark, Byrd and Billups as a trio will have to pay $11,900 in restitution, Gurley ruled.

"Bad things can happen when guns are involved," Gurley lamented in resolving the "tragic results" of Clark's case, also saying that he believes Nixon fired first during the exchange.

Byrd and Billups are set to be sentenced on Monday for their roles in the killing.

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