Ex-UMass student facing lesser assault charge
by The Republican Newsroom
Thursday March 27, 2008, 3:20 PM
By NANCY H. GONTER <firstname.lastname@example.org>
NORTHAMPTON – A former University of Massachusetts student accused of stabbing two men who yelled racial slurs at him has been indicted on a lesser charge than he originally faced.
Jason W. Vassell, 23, of Boston, a senior biology major who withdrew from UMass-Amherst after the Feb. 3 incident, was indicted this week by a Hampshire Superior Court grand jury on two counts of aggravated assault by means of a dangerous weapon. No arraignment date has been scheduled.
Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Frank E. Flannery, who is handling the case, was not available for comment this afternoon about why there was no indictment on charges Vassell faced in Eastern Hampshire District Court of armed
assault with intent to murder. Vassell has pleaded innocent to those charges.
Vassell’s case has drawn the attention in the UMass community and a rally and a vigil were held in support of him and in opposition to hate crimes. Vassell is black and the two other men involved are white. Vassell’s supporters have
created a group called “Justice for Jason.”
Defense lawyer David P. Hoose has said the two men taunted Vassell and he showed them a knife and told them to leave. Hoose has suggested that Vassell acted in self defense.
John C. Bowes, 20, of Hancock, N. H., is accused of punching Vassell and breaking his nose. Bowes pleaded innocent to civil rights and other charges in Eastern Hampshire District Court, but was not indicted in Superior Court. The
man with Bowes, Jonathan Bosse, 19, of Milton, was not charged.
Court documents state that after Vassell was punched, he stabbed Bosse five times, Bowes four times. All three were treated at areas hospitals.
Supporters have created a Web site, www.justiceforjason.org, which provides details of the incident and information about how Vassell volunteered at an art program as a teenager, worked as a tutor at Bunker Hill Community College which he attended before UMass and most recently worked with disabled adult men and volunteered as a mentor at a local middle school.