VERNON, CONN. (AP) - A man who stabbed a University of Connecticut football player during a fight in which another player was killed was sentenced Friday to 2 1/2 years in prison after apologizing for what he called "senseless violence."
Hakim Muhammad, 22, of Bloomfield was sentenced in Rockville Superior Court after pleading guilty to second-degree assault and hindering prosecution. He will serve 2 1/2 years of special parole after the prison time.
Muhammad apologized for stabbing UConn player Brian Parker during an October 2009 fight on the Storrs campus. Parker suffered a minor stab wound in the back. Parker's teammate, Jasper Howard, was fatally stabbed in the abdomen by Muhammad's friend, John Lomax III, who was sentenced last month to 18 years in prison for manslaughter.
Police say the fight was sparked by disparaging comments Parker made about a woman at a school-sponsored dance.
"I understand that there was a life lost due to this senseless violence," Muhammad said while apologizing before Judge Terence A. Sullivan, who called the plea deal fair.
Prosecutor Matthew Gedansky said he agreed to the 2 1/2-year sentence because Muhammad, unlike Lomax, took responsibility for what he did, and Parker's wound was minor. Gedansky also cited Muhammad's cooperation with prosecutors.
Muhammad's relatives declined to comment Friday.
His lawyer, Gerald Klein said Mohammad, who has no previous criminal record, pleaded guilty to exactly what he did and took full responsibility for his actions.
"When you stab someone in the back, there has to be some criminal consequences," he said.
Klein said with the 13 months he has already served, he expects Muhammad to be released from prison either late this year or early in 2012.
About 350 people attended the dance the night Parker and Howard were stabbed. After a fire alarm was pulled, the crowd spilled outside.
Witnesses told police, according to an arrest warrant affidavit, that a group including Howard and a group including Lomax and another defendant, Johnny Hood, confronted one another outside the Student Union and punches were thrown.
Several football players, including Howard, walked away to a spot near UConn's basketball arena, while Lomax and Muhammad went back to their car and armed themselves, police said.
Another fight involving several people broke out several minutes later in front of the arena. Witnesses said that's when Lomax stabbed Howard in the abdomen and Muhammad stabbed Parker as he fought with another man.
None of the football players was arrested. Parker was later dismissed from the team for unrelated reasons. He did not attend Friday's hearing, but Gedansky said he approved of the plea agreement.
Gedansky also dropped charges Friday against Asia Muhammad, Hakim's sister, who was accused of helping him destroy evidence in the case.