A Madison man who fired a gun inside a crowded State Street bar in 2015, striking two people with a single, ricocheting bullet, was sentenced Friday to nine years in prison.
Dane County Circuit Judge Ellen Berz told Nigel Goodwan Jr., 24, that he showed poor judgment in pulling out a gun on a dance floor at State Street Brats, 603 State St., on April 18, 2015, after he believed that an unarmed man had made a threatening remark to him. Goodwan had told Berz that days earlier, the man had fired a gun at a car in which Goodwan was a passenger on the Beltline.
“If you choose to fire a gun in Dane County, just accept the fact that you’re probably going to prison,” Berz said. “I’ve said it again and again and again.”
When the man, Donte Moore, approached Goodwan at State Street Brats, Goodwan pulled out a gun he was carrying. Moore tried to grab the gun, causing it to be pointed downward. Goodwan fired, and the bullet ricocheted off a cellphone in Moore’s pants pocket and struck a 25-year-old woman in the leg. She had no connection to either man.
Goodwan fled but was arrested in Chicago six months later.
In November, Goodwan pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment, both related to the incident inside State Street Brats, one count each for Moore and the woman. The nine-year sentence will be shortened by about a year and four months, as credit for time Goodwan has spent in custody since his arrest.
Berz told Goodwan that Moore may have saved him from a lifetime in prison, which he might have gotten if Moore hadn’t pushed Goodwan’s gun down instead of at Moore’s chest. Had Moore been fatally shot, Berz said, Goodwan might have been convicted of first-degree intentional homicide, which carries a mandatory life prison sentence.
Goodwan was also originally charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide for shooting Moore in the leg, buttocks and armpit just hours later in a parking lot at 7854 Mineral Point Road, but that charge was among three that were dismissed as part of a plea agreement. Berz was allowed to consider those dismissed charges, however, when sentencing Goodwan.
Goodwan’s lawyer, state Assistant Public Defender Stan Woodard, echoed the words of members of Goodwan’s family, who said that he wasn’t a violent person, adding that Goodwan had no history of violent crime. Woodard noted that, in a first among the people he’s represented, Goodwan had even legally purchased his handgun from a store and took a gun safety class, rather than buying the gun on the street when he felt he needed protection.
Woodard, arguing for probation, said that at State Street Brats, Goodwan was “minding his own business” and was acting to protect himself using his gun, although Berz pointed out that Goodwan legally was not allowed to carry a gun into a tavern. Goodwan said he didn’t know that.
Deputy District Attorney Matthew Moeser asked for 10 years in prison.