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Utah partygoers recount moments leading up to 2012 fatal stabbing

Published April 15, 2013 8:19 pm

Courts • Keenan John Thompson, 29, has been charged with murder for allegedly stabbing 26-year-old William "K.C." Wright.
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American Fork • Friends of a man killed at a Payson house party last summer recounted their final moments with William "K.C." Wright during a preliminary hearing for the man accused of fatally stabbing him.

During Monday's hearing in 4th District Court for 29-year-old Keenan John Thompson, Wright's friend, John Clements, testified that the party at Wright's house on July 4, 2012, was full of good conversation and everyone was in a good mood, including Wright.

Clements said he was in the kitchen drinking a beer in the early morning when he heard several women scream, and someone told him that Wright had been hurt.

Clements testified that he ran outside, saw his best friend lying in the street, and laid next to him, putting his cheek to Wright's face.

"There was so much blood," Clements testified. "I stayed there with him 'till he took his last breath."

While Clements said there were no arguments at the party that night, another partygoer, Amanda Calton, recalled Monday on the witness stand that there was a problem with a 15-year-old boy who lived nearby who had been kicked out of the party several times.

"He kept trying to drink," Calton said of the teen. "He was going and stealing beer, and he was being very disrespectful and rude ... He got kicked out of the party a few times, because he wasn't welcome there. He wasn't old enough."

Calton said those at the party were drinking beer and Jagerbombs — shots of Jagermeister mixed with an energy drink.

Amy Anderson also testified Monday that the teen had been asked to leave the party on several occasions, and said that she had argued with the teen across the street from the house until Wright intervened.

"He was trying to be the peacekeeper," Anderson said of Wright. "He was trying to explain to this little boy why he couldn't be there."

As the party began to wind down, Calton testified that the teen began yelling at partygoers from across the street, saying that he had called his cousin to "come kill" the people at the party.

The 15-year-old called Thompson, his cousin, and asked him to help with an altercation at a house on the 600 North block of 700 East, according to a probable cause statement filed in 4th District Court.

According to that statement, Thompson told police that when he arrived, a man "came toward him in a fast/hurried manner" so Thompson grabbed a knife from his car and began "swinging at the male with his fists," the document states.

Thompson told police he did not know if he had cut Wright, who police said often had parties at his Payson home.

The 15-year-old told officers he thought Thompson punched the man twice. Wright collapsed and the teen saw "a large amount of blood," according to the statement.

Thompson told his cousin to get into his car and they drove to Spanish Fork. Along the way, Thompson threw the knife out the car window and stripped off a layer of clothes — he was wearing another shirt and another pair of pants underneath — and put the top layer in a Dumpster, the document states.

In Spanish Fork, the teen said, Thompson "freaked out" and said, "I hope I didn't kill him."

Wright was stabbed in his throat and abdomen, the document states.

Thompson is charged 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.

Thompson's preliminary hearing began in January, but was continued after his defense attorney withdrew from the case because of a conflict of interest. The hearing is scheduled to end Thursday, when Thomas Low will decide if there is enough evidence for Thompson to stand trial on the charges.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller