Columbia man sentenced to 35 years in 1996 slaying Victim, 25, fatally shot at Hickory Ridge party

January 30, 1998|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

A 22-year-old Columbia man was sentenced yesterday to 35 years in prison for killing a father of two after a dispute at a party at a neighborhood center in Hickory Ridge village.

Willie Marquez Hampton told Circuit Judge Lenore R. Gelfman that he did not mean to kill Sean Wilson, 25, in Howard County's fifth homicide of 1996.

"I am sorry for what happened," Hampton said. "It was a mistake."

But Gelfman told Hampton that he made "a choice" Dec. 21 when he took a gun with him to the party.

"You took somebody else's life," Gelfman said, in a courtroom packed with relatives of Wilson and Hampton. "I don't know of anything worse than the death of a child."

As part of his sentence, Hampton must pay $3,816 in restitution to the victim's father for the costs of the funeral. Hampton was found guilty of second-degree murder and use of a handgun in a felony.

The night of the shooting, a police officer targeting underage drinkers was patrolling the area around the Hawthorn Neighborhood Center because he knew there was a party. The officer heard gunshots just before 1 a.m., court records say.

When the officer arrived, he saw a crowd scattering and Wilson's body on the ground with a gunshot wound in the chest.

Wilson, who lived in the 1300 block of Hallock Drive in Odenton in Anne Arundel County, had gone to the center to pick up a friend of a cousin from the party, police said.

Court records say Wilson and Hampton got into an argument as Wilson was leaving the party. Hampton then took out a gun and shot him.

Yesterday in court, Hampton's attorney, Aron H. Baumel, asked Gelfman for mercy. "What this man did was nothing short of a mistake," Baumel said. "He still has an entire life in front of him."

Baumel said Hampton was a product of his environment: a man raised by a single mother in Baltimore, whose brother was killed in a cross-fire.

"Should we be shocked by this?" Baumel asked. "Unfortunately, this seems to be the nature of the beast."

Said Assistant State's Attorney Sue Ellen Hantman: "There's always an excuse for something."

Pub Date: 1/30/98

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