Thursdays were always special for the Ulrich family.
They were the days Adam Ussery, 25, would come home to visit. He had been living on Beech Grove Farm in Gambrills.
On Sept. 12, 2014, Ussery showed up in a good mood, said Mary Ulrich, his godmother who raised him since he was a child. He had a job and things were going well, she said.
"I had never seen him that happy," Ulrich said.
But Thursdays are particularly difficult for the Ulrich family now, she said.
On Sept. 19, 2014, one week after Ussery's last visit, he was stabbed to death on a farm in Gambrills. He was supposed to go fishing with his godfather the next day.
Last Thursday, 35-year-old Jason Thayer of Crownsville pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for Ussery's death.
On Thursday of this week, Thayer was sentenced to 30 years in prison, with all but 15 years suspended.
Anne Arundel Circuit Court Judge Michele Jaklitsch called Ussery's death a "senseless tragedy."
Ussery was living on Beech Grove Farm with several other people in September of 2014. Thayer lived there previously.
But conflicts arose between women mutually known by Ussery and Thayer, said Assistant State's Attorney Brooke McKay. Then Thayer heard Ussery had "disrespected" him and his girlfriend.
On Sept. 19, 2014, a Thursday, Thayer and two women went to the farm to confront another woman who lived there, McKay said. The dispute took place inside a home on the property, then continued outside.
At one point, Ussery came outside, McKay said. He and Thayer got into a verbal altercation and then a fist fight, McKay said. Ussery went back into the house to retrieve a knife.
Moments later, Ussery came back outside holding a kitchen knife, McKay said. Thayer then pulled out a pocket knife, approached Ussery and stabbed him in the chest, she said.
"(Thayer) chose not to retreat to safety or defuse the situation," McKay said.
After the stabbing, Ussery went back into the house, where he collapsed. The wound proved fatal.
Thayer and the two women with whom he arrived got back into their vehicle and fled. Police found Thayer a short time later near Crownsville and Hawkins roads, and placed him under arrest.
Ulrich's family found out about Ussery's death that afternoon.
District Public Defender William Davis said Thayer is taking responsibility for his actions. But Davis also said Ussery "upped the ante" during the confrontation by bringing a knife out of the house.
"None of us would be here today if Mr. Ussery didn't come back out of that house with a knife," Davis said.
Jaklitsch acknowledged that fact when handing down Thayer's sentence. The state asked for 30 years, with all but 25 years suspended. Davis asked for the 15-year sentence.
"I wish you had better skills at addressing problems when you see a knife than doing what you did," Jaklitsch said to Thayer.
Jaklitsch ordered Thayer to receive drug and mental health evaluations, and take an anger management class. She also gave him five years of probation.
Thayer had eight prior criminal convictions for crimes ranging from drug offenses to burglary to forgery. He has been in and out of jail since he was 18 – his latest release came 16 days before he stabbed Ussery – and previously was affiliated with the Dead Man Inc. prison gang.
Davis said Thayer has "repudiated" the gang and a "stab on sight" order has been issued for him. He asked for Thayer to be put into protective custody.
When it was time for Thayer to speak, he apologized to Ussery's family. He said an innocent life was taken in an "argument that went terribly wrong."
"I have to live with this for the rest of my life," Thayer said. "I wish I could change it, but I can't."
Thayer and Ussery had unconventional childhoods, their attorneys said.
Thayer grew up the youngest of six children in southwest Baltimore, Davis said. His dad left when he was a small child, Davis said, and died when Thayer was 15. His mother died when he was 20.
The family was made up of hunters, Davis said.
Although Thayer had to be tough and stand up for himself in his "gritty" neighborhood, Davis said, he also had a caring side, protecting a developmentally disabled child in the neighborhood from bullies and taking care of his neighbor's pets.
He eventually developed a drug problem and ended up in and out of jail. He worked as a laborer when he wasn't incarcerated, and always had a knife because of his carpentry and roofing work, Davis said.
Ussery's mom died when he was a small child and his father wasn't in the picture, McKay said. He was taken in by his godparents, whom he called "mommy and daddy," and had a host of siblings, cousins, relatives and two young nephews.
He enjoyed fishing and was very handy around the house, McKay said.
Although Ussery was "not perfect," Ulrich said – he occasionally showed up drunk at night – he had a good heart and would go out of his way to help others.
Anita Baase, who manages Beech Grove Farm, said she saw the good side of Ussery the more she got to know him.
"The world lost a loving man with a good, kind soul," Baase said.