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Killer Facing 65 Years In Prison

Man Sentenced In 2004 Shooting Of Teenage Stranger

September 10, 2005
By STEPHANIE REITZ, Courant Staff Writer

A cycle of violence and retribution in Hartford's North End came to a sobering end Friday as Marcus Fair was sentenced to life in prison for killing an 18-year-old stranger in an act of random spite.

Fair, 24, of Hartford, was convicted in May by a Superior Court jury in Hartford on murder and gun charges for the killing of DeWayne Knowlin on Jan. 13, 2004. Knowlin had just purchased a snack from a food van near Nelton Court when he was fatally shot.

Fair's motive was a mystery until the trial, when his uncle testified that Fair wanted payback over the fatal shooting of his cousin, Steven Granger, in the same neighborhood about three months earlier.

The pain of Granger's killing, which is still unsolved, was made all the more wrenching when Granger's grandmother collapsed of a fatal heart attack while viewing his body at his wake.

Knowlin, a Bloomfield High School senior, had no connection to Fair, Granger or the events that had torn their family apart. But when Fair returned to Nelton Court bent on revenge - and wearing a disguise of fake dreadlocks and packing a revolver - the first person he encountered was Knowlin.

Superior Court Judge Carmen E. Espinosa said the calculated nature of the murder revealed Fair as a vengeful person with no regard for human life. She handed down a sentence of life plus 16 years, with another five years for the gun charge.

That means Fair must serve at least 65 years, a sentence that drew screams of profanity from some of Fair's family members and prompted the judge to have them removed from the courtroom.

Fair was convicted of shooting Knowlin twice in the chest and running away as Knowlin, assisted by a friend, staggered a few blocks and collapsed. Knowlin was dead by the time his parents reached St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center.

"[Fair] took my only child's life. Instead of getting my son his senior prom suit, we had to get him a funeral suit," his mother, Kimberly Knowlin, said during Friday's sentencing. "When he killed my only son, he killed my whole family line."

Fair's uncle, Howard Fair, turned in his nephew a few days after Knowlin's murder, despite criticisms that he was a snitch and an "Uncle Tom," he said. After calling the police, he went to Knowlin's funeral.

Howard Fair said Friday that he believed that turning in his nephew was the only way to stop the cycle of revenge and save Marcus Fair's life.

"I love him more than anything, but I knew I had to bring him in before he hurt somebody else or someone hurt him," Howard Fair said, barely holding back tears. "He never had a good life. He never had a chance."

Fair, who dropped out of high school in his freshman year, started dealing drugs at 13 and has served prison time for robbery, drug sales and probation violation, according to trial testimony.

Family members said Friday that he was seduced by the streets, embracing a culture of revenge and distrust that deepened after his cousin's murder.

He refused to help Hartford detectives investigate the Granger murder, even though he witnessed it and was shot in the shoulder by the assailant or assailants. Instead, Fair decided that someone in the Nelton Court neighborhood - anyone, in fact - had to pay the price, according to trial testimony.

For Knowlin's family, the pain of his random murder has been excruciating.

Instead of watching him accept his diploma, they had to take it to his graveside. They still are paying off bank loans for the funeral and burial and struggling to understand how their son became a victim of a stranger's vendetta.

"Mr. Fair is a hardened criminal, a murderer with no respect for human life," Knowlin's father, Jerome Shropshire of Bloomfield, said during Friday's sentencing.Fair did not help his case when he "snickered" at Knowlin's father during the trial, Espinosa said. He also assaulted a prison guard while awaiting trial in the case, according to court testimony.

"The court doesn't find many, if any, redeeming qualities. The likelihood of rehabilitation is slim to none," she said. "The court does not believe he has shown remorse of any sort."

Fair refused to speak at Friday's sentencing, other than to mutter angry comments as his uncle laid out the difficulties of Fair's childhood.

"Just give me my time and let me go," Fair said to the judge.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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