BAY ST. LOUIS -- A homeless man has received a 20-year prison term for killing a friend by shoving a 5-inch tube of foot cream down the man's throat.
A Hancock County grand jury had indicted Edward "Nick" Winnicki Jr., 65, on a murder charge in the December 2013 slaying of David Bourgeois, 58, in Waveland. Bourgeois also was homeless.
Winnicki pleaded guilty on a lesser charge of heat-of-passion manslaughter Monday in Hancock County Circuit Court.
Judge Roger Clark sentenced Winnicki to the maximum prison term the law allows for manslaughter.
Winnicki and Bourgeois were such good friends they were known in the community as "running partners," Assistant District Attorney Chris Daniel said. "If you saw one, you saw the other."
Bourgeois was found dead on Christmas Day 2013 by members of a local church who had gone to check on the men. He had been dead several days.
He had been staying in a shack on U.S. 90 near Wal-Mart. Winnicki was staying in a building about 20 yards away, Daniel said.
An autopsy showed Bourgeois died of asphyxiation from the tube shoved down his throat, and he had been stabbed several times.
Police found Winnicki sleeping, intoxicated, in the loft of the nearby building.
An investigation by Waveland police and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation revealed the men had been drinking and got in an argument that led to a fight.
"The fight escalated and turned deadly when Winnicki stabbed Bourgeois with a small pocket knife and suffocated him," Daniel said.
During Winnicki's plea, his attorney told the court Bourgeois had beaten up Winnicki before and said it contributed to his state of mind during the fight.
However, Daniel said, there was no evidence Bourgeois was armed the night he was killed.
District Attorney Joel Smith said his office consulted with Bourgeois' family on the offer of a plea agreement.
"It was clear that this guilty plea was in the best interest to bring accountability and justice in the death of David Bourgeois," Smith said.