Attorney wants fall trial for man charged with stabbing UConn football player to death

The lawyer for a man accused of fatally stabbing University of Connecticut football player Jasper Howard wants to take the case to trial this fall.

Deron Freeman told The Associated Press on Tuesday he plans to file a speedy-trial motion for John Lomax III in Rockville Superior Court and is hoping for a trial in late September or October.

"Mr. Lomax has always maintained his innocence in this case and has refused to enter any plea negotiations," Freeman said. "We would like to go to trial as soon as possible."

Lomax, of Bloomfield, is accused of killing Howard, a 20-year-old cornerback from Miami, last Oct. 18 during an on-campus fight between a group of football players and a group that included Lomax.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Lomax and a friend, Hakim Muhammad, retrieved knives from a car during the altercation, which occurred outside a school-sanctioned dance at the student union.

Muhammad is accused of stabbing former UConn player Brian Parker during the fight, and he faces assault and other charges. He has pleaded not guilty.

According to the affidavit, there are several witnesses who identified Lomax as the man who stabbed Howard. But Freeman said there are others who dispute that.

"We have two witnesses who say they heard Hakim confess to the murder," Freeman said.

Muhammad's attorney has said that while some witnesses claim his client had something in his hand that looked like a knife, no one has offered evidence that he swung it at anyone.

Lomax is due back in court Sept. 17, and Freeman said he's hopeful the judge will rule on the speedy-trial motion and set a trial date at that time.

A fall trial would come in the middle of UConn's football season, and several players could be called as witnesses.

According to the affidavit, wide receiver Mike Smith 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.

Other players identified as being at the altercation include defensive end A.J. Portee, receiver Kashif Moore and tailback Kalmetrus Wiley. Parker, who suffered minor injuries, was dismissed from the team in January for academic reasons. None of the players has been charged with any crime.

Fullback Anthony Sherman, one of two offensive captains on the team, said Monday the Huskies will not let the criminal case keep them from having a successful football season.

"I think we'll try to stay away from that as much as possible and let the law process, the court system, handle it, and they will do a great job handling it," Sherman said. "It's one of those things where we can't let that distract us from how good we can be."

UConn returns 15 starters from a squad that went 8-5 last season and won the PapaJohn's Bowl. The team is expected to contend for the Big East championship this season after opening on the road on Sept. 4 against Michigan.