EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

February 7, 2014

Endicott student held in campus attacks

Prosecutors say incidents are similar to 'knockout game' assaults

BEVERLY — The Endicott College sophomore charged in what a prosecutor called “completely unprovoked, vicious attacks” on two fellow students walked into court yesterday with his family, who had posted his bail.

But Dillon DeStefano, 19, walked out of the courtroom in handcuffs, after a Salem District Court judge ordered him put back in custody following his arraignment on two counts of aggravated assault and battery.

Police and prosecutors say the attacks are similar to those in the so-called “knockout game,” which has gained notoriety recently through news reports and online. The “game” involves pairs or groups of individuals randomly assaulting strangers, often capturing the attacks on cellphone cameras.

DeStefano, a hockey player from Riverdale, N.J., pleaded not guilty through his attorney, Kevin Prendergast. But that was all Prendergast said yesterday, asking Judge Matthew Machera for a week to prepare for a hearing that will determine whether DeStefano poses a danger to the public.

That hearing was requested by prosecutor Patrick Collins, who described how one student has a shattered eye socket and the other a broken jaw that has been repaired with titanium plates.

That student, whose jaw had to be wired shut while it heals, has lost 10 pounds since the attack on Sunday, Collins said. The other victim, according to police, will require reconstructive surgery.

According to a police report, DeStefano was overheard bragging to others about “punching people for no reason,” a witness told officers. He allegedly talked about putting one man in a headlock and punching him in the jaw.

When approached by police, DeStefano, whose hand was still red and swollen, denied that he’d assaulted anyone, claiming that the injury was caused from “dead lifting.” At the time of the incidents, early Sunday morning, he claimed, he was at a party at “The Farm” with two friends.

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