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Utah County party killing sends man to prison

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Keenan John Thompson. Courtesy photo

By Jim Dalrymple II

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Oct 01 2013 02:52PM
Updated Feb 14, 2014 11:35PM

Friends and family of a man who was stabbed to death by Keenan Thompson show off matching shirts. pic.twitter.com/bbJvJehlZu— Jim Dalrymple II (@jimmycdii) October 1, 2013

American Fork • Keenan John Thompson said he will never forget the man he killed.

William "K.C." Wright died early on July 4, 2012, after Thompson, by his own admission, cut him with a knife outside a Payson house party.

"I am not what this incident has made me out to be," Thompson said, turning slightly away from the courtroom podium to face Wright’s weeping family in the pews behind.

Thompson added: "My heart goes out to each and everyone of you."

Moments later, 4th District Judge Thomas Low sentenced Keenan to prison for up to 20 years.

Thompson, 30, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in August, for which he received up to 15 year in prison Tuesday. He also pleaded guilty to one count of illegally possessing a weapon, for which he received up to five years in prison. Those sentences will run concurrently.

Low also imposed two sentences of up to five years for probation violations. Thompson will serve those sentences concurrent to each other but after the manslaughter and weapons sentences.

The hearing was an emotional one for Wright’s family and friends, who wore matching shirts with his name and picture printed on them. The group crowded into the courtroom, occupying half of the available pews, and later Wright’s sister Corie Sharp called Thompson a "danger" and a "threat" to himself and others.

"Every morning I still wake up and remember that he was murdered," Sharp told the court. "And it takes my breath away."

In court documents, Thompson admitted to stabbing Wright, 36, in the neck and abdomen with a knife in the early hours of July 4, 2012. The stabbing happened at a Payson house party, which Thompson visited because his 15-year-old cousin called and asked him for help with an "altercation," according to prosecutors.

Witnesses testified during Thompson’s preliminary hearing in April that the teen was upset after being told several times to leave the party because he was underage and alcohol was being served. Partygoers also testified that Wright was trying to be "the peacekeeper" during the party at his home, but as the party began to wind down, the teen began yelling threats from across the street, saying his cousin was coming to kill them.

Soon after, a car came to a screeching halt in front of the house, and Thompson exited his car, witnesses said.

According to a probable cause statement, Thompson told police that a man rushed toward him as he exited his car, so he grabbed a knife and began "swinging at the male with his fists," the document states.

Thompson told police that he didn’t know whether he had cut Wright in the scuffle, but witnesses said he didn’t stick around to find out.

Thompson and his younger cousin got into his car and drove to Spanish Fork, prosecutors said. Along the way, Thompson threw the knife out the car window and stripped off a layer of clothes — he was wearing another shirt and pants — and put the top layer in a Dumpster, according to court documents.

Wright was taken to a nearby hospital but died from his injuries.

Police arrested Thompson a day after the stabbing. Prosecutors initially charged him with first-degree felony murder, second-degree felony obstruction of justice and third-degree felony counts of possession of a firearm by a restricted person and possession or use of a controlled substance.

However, those charges were reduced in a plea bargain.

jdalrymple@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jimmycdii

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