It was a parking lot fight in Columbia between two friends, everyone agrees, and it ended with one of the two combatants fatally stabbed.
But in a murder trial that began Monday, April 23, prosecutors argued that the stabbing death of Phillip Edward Wise was murder, while defense attorneys contended that accused killer Anthony Patrick Parker acted solely in self-defense.
"We don't fight to the death here," prosecutor Susan Weinstein said in her opening statement Monday afternoon at Howard County Circuit Court in Ellicott City. "There are consequences to the actions we take."
Countered defense attorney Jose Molina: "The only thing that Mr. Parker was trying to do was save his own life."
Parker, 53, is facing one count of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree assault.
His trial is expected to last four to five days, according to T. Wayne Kirwan, spokesman for the Howard County State's Attorney's Office.
Parker, who is listed in court records as having addresses in Long Reach and Gwynn Oak, was arrested Sept. 14, a day after Wise was found bleeding in a parking lot of the Fall River Terrace housing complex in the 5500 block of Harpers Farm Road, in the Harper's Choice village of Columbia.
Wise, a 46-year-old of no fixed address, was taken to Howard County General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Weinstein said Parker and Wise were part of a group of six friends who were riding round in a van collecting scrap metal to sell for gasoline and for beer. They had heard about an acquaintance's cookout in Wilde Lake and went in search of free food, only to learn that the cookout was not taking place.
That led to an argument between Parker and Wise in the van, and the group soon returned to a parking lot in the Fall River Terrace housing complex, where they been earlier and where they often hung out, Weinstein said.
The argument escalated into to a fight, she said. Parker had a knife, Wise had a hammer.
Wise was stabbed five times, Weinstein said, once through his rib and into his heart.
"On the basis of the fight that took place and the fact that one man died, not only is Anthony Parker factually responsible for the death of Phillip Wise, but he is criminally so," Weinstein said.
However, Molina told jurors that the evidence not only will show Parker to be not guilty of murder, but also of assault.
"Mr. Phillip Wise violently provoked the series of actions and reactions that resulted in his unfortunate death," the defense attorney said. "During this incident, the most immediate thought in Mr. Parker's mind ... was just to repel the thunderous, violent, murderous hammering that Mr. Wise was laying upon Mr. Parker's head."
Molina argued that Wise had grabbed a hammer and was getting out of the van before it had even come to a stop. Parker, he said, couldn't get away, trapped between the van and a vehicle next to it.
A hammer police found tested positive on its head for Parker's DNA, and witnesses said they saw claw marks on Parker's neck, Molina said.
"The only person on Sept. 13, 2011, who had the malevolent desire to snuff out the life of another person was Phillip Wise," he said.