SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – It was a regretful 4th of July for all involved.
Two families were torn apart by the events that day in 2013.
“I still see that picture to this day,” said Corie Sharp, the sister of the man killed outside his Payson home. “The knife wound in his neck. I have nightmares still.”
It was the 4th of July 2013, when K.C. Wright’s sister came upon her brother’s dead body outside in the front yard. Wright died after being stabbed by someone he had never seen before.
About four hours later, Keenan Thompson turned himself in to police and was eventually charged and convicted of murder.
After his arrest authorities learned Thompson came to the home to learn why his nephew had been kicked out of the 4th of July party. His nephew was drunk and belligerent according to witnesses who talked with police.
At a recent parole hearing, Thompson said being an African American in a predominately white state had been difficult for him. It made him defensive. On that day he said his defenses naturally rose when three white men approached him that night. He had a knife in his hand as the men neared him.
“I planted myself and waited for them to get close and I began to swing (the knife),” he told his parole hearing officer. “(I) swung striking him twice and he hit the ground.”
Thompson also lived in the same neighborhood but didn’t know the Wrights. He then fled.
He’s been in prison for nine years now and prison has given Thompson plenty of time to think of what he did.
“This is a good man,” Thompson said referring to Wright. “I’ve known over the years; this was a very good man. This should not have happened. K.C. did nothing wrong.”
But as far as K.C.’s family is concerned; Thompson’s revelation is too late and the damage he inflicted is unforgiving.
His sister also was at the virtual parole hearing. She opposed early release for Thompson.
“For me the 4th of July is the worst holiday,” said Sharp. “I should be celebrating. I am greeted with an unbelievable sadness and heartache. I try to be happy. The violence of it, it just kills me.”
Sharp said her brother was non-violent and would have probably been friends with Thompson had they gotten to know each other.
Thompson was in near tears when he apologized to Sharp and to K.C.’s family.
While in prison, Thompson said he’s come to learn about himself, received counseling, received an education, and turned to God. All with the goal of one day, joining society as a better human being.
“Today I am an ordained minister, a minister Keenan Thompson,” he said. “I’ve got my associate’s degree in theology. (I am) moving forward in purpose. I felt my purpose.”