Man Who Fatally Shot Neighbor Says He Acted In Self-Defense

Man Who Fatally Shot Neighbor Says He Acted In Self-Defense

It's INSIDE EDITION's chilling jailhouse interview with a neighbor who, in all likelihood, will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

"I pulled my revolver and shot him," said Michael Vilkin.

"Do you feel remorse? Are you sorry?" ask INSIDE EDITION's Jim Moret.

"I feel bad that I killed him but I do not feel that I'm guilty," said Vilkin.

Vilkin shot his neighbor, documentary film maker John Upton, twice at point blank range. Upton was shot once in the stomach and then in the head, all in a dispute over, of all things, trees and shrubbery.  

Violence erupted after Vilkin started cutting a tree on a vacant lot he owned next door to Upton's house.  

INSIDE EDITION had the 911 call:

Operator: "911 emergency."

Caller: "My partner just got shot. Please hurry. Hurry. He's bleeding. He got shot in the head."

Vilkin claimed the shooting was self-defense. He said he confused a cell phone his neighbor was holding for a gun, but the San Diego jury didn't buy it.

"We the jury find the defendant, Michael Vilkin, guilty of the crime of murder," ruled the jury.

Vilkin showed no remorse for killing Upton. He said he was sad Upton is dead, but if he were in the same situation today, he'd shoot him again.

"I was shooting to save my life," said Vilkin.

"We know now that he did not have a pistol. He had a cell phone," said Moret.

"Well, I did not see a cellphone. I saw a pistol," said Vilkin.

INSIDE EDITION spoke to Vilkin's wife, Tamara, who's been married to the 61-year-old economist for 31 years. They came to the United States from Russia in 1987.

"They painted your husband as a monster," said Moret.

"Yes," said Tamara Vilkin.

"A cold blooded killer," continued Moret.

"Yes," said Tamara Vilkin.

"Do you believe your husband is a violent man?" asked Moret.

"No, my husband is not a violent man," said Tamara Vilkin. "My husband would feel sorry if he drove and killed a rabbit on the road."

Vilkin said he learned to shoot in the Russian army. He is trying to make the best of his new life.

"You look at the next 50 years. Is that somethng you can live with?" asked Moret. "Will you be able to live the rest of your life behind bars like this?"

"I will be able to live anywhere," said Vilkin.