Taylor man sentenced for killing neighbor in firewood dispute

Eddie Arnold Hicks/Taylor Police Department

A 76-year-old Taylor man who shot his neighbor to death in a fight over firewood in 2021, was sentenced Feb. 9.

Eddie Arnold Hicks was sentenced to two to 15 years in prison after being found guilty for manslaughter and felony firearm, with credit for 84 days served.

Hicks was convicted in a jury trial for shooting 46-year-old Barry Bellestri to death in June of 2021 after an argument over firewood escalated. The incident happened in the 6400 block of Cornell Street.

Police say Hicks - who was then 73 years old -  retrieved a firearm and shot Bellestri multiple times on the front lawn of the residence. His family said he was being attacked with a shovel and shot Bellestri in self-defense.

The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office said the shooting happened after an initial fight, and rejected claims the shooting was in self-defense.

According to the MDOC, his earliest release date would be Nov. 16, 2027. The maximum discharge date listed is Nov. 16, 2040.

On a Facebook page titled Freedom Eddie Hicks, a quote attributed to him says, "I am the Victim. I protected myself but the state said the abuser is the victim and convicted me."

Eddie Arnold Hicks/MDOC

Eddie Arnold Hicks/MDOC