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Man involved in UNH stabbing to claim self-defense

By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent

August 09. 2016 10:50PM
Attorney Adam Bernstein, left, sits with his client, Eric Denning, during a recent hearing at Strafford County Superior Court in Dover. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Correspondent)

DURHAM — The lawyer for a man involved in the stabbing of a fellow University of New Hampshire student says his client was defending himself during the altercation.

Eric Denning, 21, of Salem, was with Matthew Gibbons, 20, also of Salem, on Feb. 20 when the stabbing took place at 17 Madbury Road just before 12:45 a.m. Police say Gibbons stabbed Dean Skelley with a knife, while Denning punched Casey Calvo in the face. Calvo’s injuries were so severe that he required surgery.

Denning has been indicted on a charge of second-degree assault by a grand jury at Strafford County Superior Court in Dover.

Denning’s attorney, Adam Bernstein of Nashua, said his client’s actions were justified under New Hampshire state law. Under state statutes, a person can use non-deadly force upon another person in order to defend themselves or a third person from what they reasonably believe to be the imminent use of unlawful, non-deadly force.

Bernstein said witness statements and surveillance video back up his claims.

“The defendant submits that the actions of the alleged victim in this matter placed the defendant in the position where he believed that he was about to be assaulted and bodily injury could occur to him,” Bernstein said in a document submitted at Strafford County Superior Court.

So far, the state has 1,300 pages of discovery in the case. Jury selection in Denning’s trial has been scheduled for March.


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