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Slasher student to plead guilty

Boston, April 10 (AP): An Indian college student who allegedly stabbed his professor because the failing grades he was receiving would lead to his deportation to India plans to plead guilty to the attack, his lawyer said yesterday.

Nikhil Dhar, a 24-year-old at University of Massachusetts at Lowell, is accused of slashing Mary Elizabeth Hooker’s neck on December 22, 2005, after following her more than 32 km from the campus to her home. Right before the attack, Dhar allegedly told Hooker: “Now I will have to go back to my country,” police said.

He was scheduled to go to trial on Wednesday, but instead plans to enter guilty pleas on April 17 to charges of armed assault with intent to murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, his attorney Stephen Hrones said.

“It’s going to be a plea. We’re not in much of a position to go to trial. The evidence is basically pretty overwhelming,” Hrones added.

Hooker, an assistant professor of clinical lab sciences, had Dhar as a student in her haematology lecture and laboratory courses.

The police said they found a bloody note in his pocket, which read: “I’m sorry I’m having to do this. But I have no options left.... You look at me and I will kill you. I have nothing to lose.”

Hooker told the police Dhar approached her at her home and wanted to talk about failing her class. She said when she suggested going to a coffee shop to talk, he dragged her into the yard, hit her and slashed her neck, according to police reports.

Hrones said Dhar, who was from Calcutta, came to the US on a student visa.

“There was tremendous pressure on him because he was flunking his courses, and if he flunked out of school, he’d be deported,” Hrones said. “His family is also very highly educated, and he wasn’t doing well. It was a combination of those two things that exploded. This was completely out of character.”

Hrones said he has been talking with prosecutors about a sentencing recommendation to make to the judge, but the two sides have not reached an agreement. He would not discuss the sentence he is seeking and said Dhar would be deported after he completes his prison term.

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