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
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
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
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