MEMBERS of James Nolan's family wept yesterday as his killer pleaded not guilty to murder, but guilty to manslaughter, Newcastle Supreme Court heard.
Martin Booth, 38, was set to face trial this week for murder, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge on the grounds of excessive self defence.
Booth shot Mr Nolan in the chest at Booth's Leumeah Place, Bolton Point, home on March 19 last year.
A sentencing hearing before Justice Megan Latham will be held in November.
Booth and his then-girlfriend, Sabina Pincovai, went on the run for two days after the shooting before they were arrested outside their solicitor's office at Toronto.
Pincovai, 28, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to concealing a serious offence and was placed on a good behaviour bond for one year.
She and Booth appeared to exchange words when they sat together in the dock on Tuesday and Pincovai kissed Booth quickly when she left the dock to sit in another section of the court.
A statement of facts tendered at Pincovai's sentencing hearing stated that Booth confronted one of Mr Nolan's relatives over a drug dealing dispute in the early hours of May 19. Booth allegedly attacked a man in the relative's house during that dispute, the statement said.
Booth learnt during the day that Mr Nolan was going to confront him about the incident involving the relative, the statement said.
Mr Nolan attended Booth's home at 8.50pm and was shot in the chest. He died instantly.
The gun was never found.
Pincovai screamed, "What have you done?", and was hysterical before she and Booth fled. She spent three months in custody before she was released on bail.
Booth has been in custody since his arrest.