Source AP ©

Indian student stabs his former professor

A former college student feared flunking out of school and being deported to his native India pleaded guilty to stabbing his science professor at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.

Judge Diane Kottmyer sentenced Nikhil Dhar to four to five years in state prison after he entered guilty pleas to charges of armed assault with intent to murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Dhar, 23, had been scheduled to go on trial in Middlesex Superior Court last Wednesday. But two days before the trial, his attorney said his client had decided to plead guilty in an agreement with prosecutors because of overwhelming evidence implicating him in the Dec. 22, 2005, attack.

Professor Mary Elizabeth Hooker was attacked after Dhar followed her more than 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the campus to her Cambridge home. Right before the attack, Dhar, who is from Calcutta, India, allegedly told Hooker, "Now I will have to go back to my country," police said.

Prosecutors said Dhar had been flunking out of school and feared he would be deported.

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

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

She was hospitalized for several days after the attack.

In a victim impact statement presented in court Tuesday, Hooker said she was "extremely aware that the outcome of this attack could have been very different." She survived, she said, in part because neighbors heard her screams, called police and provided first aid until help arrived.

Hooker said she continued to live with the "emotional scars."

"I have even become much more cautious in my dealings with my students - for that I am sad, for the student-teacher bond is a sacred one," she said

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