Affidavit describes what led to fight
VERNON, Conn. -- Two men charged in the fight that led to the stabbing death of University of Connecticut football player Jasper Howard told police it began when one of Howard's teammates disrespected a woman at a school-sanctioned dance, according to an affidavit released Tuesday.
The affidavit charges 21-year-old John Lomax III with murder in Howard's Oct. 18 death.
The 21-page document includes an array of witness statements, some of them contradictory, about the deadly encounter and provides the first account of what may have sparked the fight.
The witnesses described a fight between football players and a group of friends that was broken up by police. The fight restarted several minutes later, but the witnesses gave differing accounts of what immediately preceded Howard's stabbing.
Howard, who was from Miami and whose nickname was Jazz, died at a hospital from a single wound in his abdomen, hours after helping his team to a homecoming game win over Louisville.
A 21-year-old Hartford man, Johnny Hood, told police he got into an argument with two men, later identified as football players Brian Parker and A.J. Portee, after Parker made disparaging comments about a woman.
The argument occurred after someone pulled the fire alarm inside the student union and as people were leaving the building.
"Johnny was telling the guy, 'That's a girl, be respectful to her,'" his friend Hakim Muhammad told police. "The guy then started directing his disrespect to Johnny and the two of them got into it a little bit."
The two groups confronted each other outside the center and, according to several witnesses, punches were thrown. Hood and Lomax both claim football players took swings at them. Parker said another of Lomax's friends, De'Quan Muhammad, rushed at him.
At some point, Parker was stabbed in the back. He told police that as he walked away from the confrontation, two women informed him he was bleeding.
Police broke up the melee, dispersed the crowd and arrested Hood on charges of breach of peace and interfering with police.
Howard and other football players walked across the street to a spot near UConn's basketball arena, while Lomax and another men went back to their car, where police say they armed themselves.
Several minutes later, a fight developed in front of the arena, near UConn's most well-known landmark, a statue of a Husky.
Devra Brown, a witness who said she recognized Lomax because he frequented a McDonald's restaurant where she worked, recounted seeing him at the fight, saying it involved seven or eight people, including Howard. Howard swung his fists at Lomax and Lomax countered by swinging his left hand at Howard.
"It looked like he slashed or stabbed Jazz on the left side of his stomach," Brown told investigators.
Brown said Howard then ran in her direction yelling "They got me! They got me!" before collapsing.
UConn football player Michael Smith also told police he saw Howard throw a punch at a man later identified as Lomax. Smith said Howard ran across the street yelling "They got me!" and he walked with him toward the student center, and Howard collapsed on the sidewalk.
On Tuesday, UConn's athletic department referred questions to university spokesman Mike Kirk, who declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
It was not clear from the affidavit who stabbed Parker, a sophomore wide receiver, who is academically ineligible to play this season.
Witnesses said other football players at the scene included Smith, a sophomore wide receiver; Portee, a redshirt freshman defensive end; sophomore receiver Kashif Moore; and sophomore tailback Kalmetrus Wiley. None of the players has been charged.
Lomax, of Bloomfield, Conn., is scheduled to appear in Rockville Superior Court on Friday. His lawyer has denied the allegations.
Hood and two other men, Jamal Todd and Christopher Mutchler, were scheduled to appear in court Tuesday afternoon, but the hearings were delayed until a later date.
Todd is accused of pulling the fire alarm and is charged with falsely reporting an incident and reckless endangerment. Mutchler is charged with hindering prosecution, committing an act of terrorism and several misdemeanors for allegedly posting Internet messages threatening witnesses who talked with police.
De'Quan Muhammad is charged with making a false statement, hindering prosecution and interfering with an officer.
Hakim Muhammad of Bloomfield, who is not believed to be related to De'Quan Muhammad, is charged with conspiracy to commit assault.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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