Teen killer's best friend doesn't buy story of gay encounter

BY admin

March 22 2005 12:00 AM ET

The best friend of convicted murderer Gary Hirte said he's known Hirte since the seventh grade but doesn't know why he would kill another man. "He had everything going for him, so there was no purpose," Eric Wenzelow told WBAY-TV in Green Bay, Wis.

Hirte, 19, was sentenced to a mandatory life prison term Thursday. Winnebago County district attorney William Lennon had asked for a life sentence without the possibility of parole, but a judge gave Hirte a chance for parole in 32 years.

Hirte, an Eagle Scout and straight-A student, admitted stabbing and shooting to death Glenn Kopitske, 37, in August 2003 at Kopitske's rural Town of Wolf River house but pleaded insanity. Hirte claimed a drunken homosexual encounter with Kopitske sent him into a murderous rage, making him incapable of knowing right from wrong.

Prosecutors portrayed Hirte during his insanity trial as a heartless killer who murdered to see if he could accomplish yet another of his goals and who then concocted the "gay panic" story after seeing a crime lab report. Kopitske's parents have said their son was not gay.

Wenzelow, who testified against Hirte, told the station that their friendship became strained when Hirte was charged with murder. He said he and some of Hirte's other friends don't believe Hirte's version of
why he killed Kopitske. He said they agree with the detectives' theory. "There was never a moment when I hung around with him that he showed homosexual urges or anything, so I didn't believe that at all," Wenzelow said.

Wenzelow said he was disgusted by Hirte's actions and visited him in jail only after being asked by Hirte's parents. He said he has no plans to visit Hirte in prison. (AP)

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