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Salem man pleads guilty to his role in UNH stabbing

Union Leader Correspondent

November 02. 2017 7:55PM
Defense attorney Adam Bernstein sits with his client, Eric Denning, prior to a bail hearing last year at Strafford County Superior Court. (File photo by Kimberley Haas)

DOVER — A Salem man involved in the stabbing of a University of New Hampshire student last year pleaded guilty to second-degree assault Thursday morning at Strafford County Superior Court.

Eric Denning, 23, and his friend Matthew Gibbons got into an altercation with a group of male students on the third floor of an off-campus apartment complex on Feb. 20, 2016.

Prosecutors claim the two were banging on the doors of multiple apartments just before 12:45 a.m., and when Dean Skelley and Casey Calvo opened their door and stepped into the hallway, words were exchanged and Denning punched Calvo in the face, breaking his nose.

Gibbons then stabbed Skelley twice, prosecutors say. The duo fled from the scene and Gibbons took a picture of the two of them together.

Gibbons posted the photo of himself holding the knife and Denning with blood on his hands to Snapchat with the caption “When me and Eric (expletive) on kids.”

Emergency crews were called to the scene and transported Skelley to Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover. Both Calvo and Skelley had to be operated on because of their injuries.

Calvo required plastic surgery to fix his nose.

Gibbons was sentenced to 12 months in the Strafford County House of Corrections in June.

Prosecutor Lauren Di Giovanni said that on Thursday, Denning was also sentenced to 12 months in the county jail, but all of that time is suspended for one year if he is of good behavior.

“He was also required to complete 50 hours of community service, which he completed prior to his sentencing,” Di Giovanni said.

Di Giovanni said Denning paid Calvo $1,748 in restitution for his medical bills Thursday morning.

Di Giovanni said prosecutors at Strafford County Superior Court have a strong message for the community.

“This sentence sends the message to the community that all offenses will be taken seriously by the state. In this case, the state considered all of the mitigating and aggravating factors, and formulated a sentence which will punish, rehabilitate and deter,” Di Giovanni.

Gibbons and Denning were students at UNH at the time of the incident, but have been expelled from the college.

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