Man receives 10-year term in slaying of 'best friend'

April 09, 1996|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A computer programmer from Glen Burnie was sentenced to 10 years in prison yesterday for killing his "best friend" with a handgun that the two men often had passed back and forth.

Timothy J. Fisher, 29, of the 400 block of Sixth Ave., was sentenced by Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. after a hearing that focused on Fisher's otherwise crime-free life.

Raymond Knapp, 27, of the 1600 block of Tieman Drive in Glen Burnie was shot in the head by Fisher on July 29 after the two men went into some woods behind Fisher's home to drink two cases of beer with friends.

Fisher, who had been playing with a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol, gave Mr. Knapp $20 to get more beer when they ran out and complained when he failed to return 45 minutes later.

When Mr. Knapp showed up shortly before 5 p.m., the two argued and Mr. Knapp asked Fisher if he was angry with him for taking so long.

Fisher responded: "If I was mad at you, I would've done this." Fisher then put Mr. Knapp in a headlock, placed the gun against his head and pulled the trigger, said Assistant State's Attorney Michael O. Bergeson. Mr. Knapp died the next day at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Fisher entered an Alford plea to second-degree murder in January. An Alford plea means he did not admit guilt, but acknowledged that the state had sufficient evidence to convict him.

Mr. Bergeson read a letter to Judge Thieme from the victim's wife, saying that the shooting has left her to raise their three children on her own.

"I think they're going to need a lot of counseling," Angel Knapp, 27, said later of the children. "There's a lot that's going on in their little heads."

Several of Fisher's friends told the judge that the two men were best friends, that Fisher was reliable enough to be a baby sitter for their children and that the shooting was an accident.

Ann Kenny showed the judge photographs of Fisher, some in which he was laughing with Mr. Knapp and others showing him dressed like Santa Claus at a child's party.

"He's always been a wonderful friend," she said.

Wayne J. Cymek, Fisher's lawyer, said Fisher had no criminal convictions before the shooting. He said Fisher called 911 immediately after it happened, cooperated with the police and has had nightmares ever since.

He said the two men had played with the handgun at previous drinking sessions and that Fisher remains filled with remorse.

Mr. Cymek quoted from a letter that Fisher wrote the Knapp family in December: "You lost a son and a brother, I lost a best friend."

But Mr. Knapp's family later said Fisher may have gotten off lightly.

Fisher had a handgun collection, was proficient with the guns and would not have fired one accidentally, said Gene Knapp Sr., the victim's father.

"It was probably not completely premeditated," he said. "But it wasn't an accident either."

Pub Date: 4/09/96

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