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Belizean student at UCLA facing attempted murder charges Print E-mail
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Thursday, 15 October 2009 12:29

Damon ThompsonFormer SJC High School and Sixth Form graduate Damon Thompson, who was studying at University of California in Los Angeles was arraigned at an Airport Courthouse in Westchester California on Tuesday afternoon for a single charge of attempted premeditated murder of his classmate. The allegation against 20-year-old Damon Thompson is that on Thursday October 9, he attacked a 20-year-old female classmate Katherine Rosen. It happened in an organic chemistry class in the William Young Hall at the university sometime around midday on Thursday when Thompson allegedly pulled out a knife and stabbed Rosen five times and slashed her throat.
 
Thompson, an A -student with consistent excellent academic performance is an only child of Judith Brook a legal clerk with the Legal Advice and Services Centre in Belize City.  While the US media has painted a negative picture of Thompson,

sources close to him and his family  indicated that prior to this incident he had made countless complaints against classmates and this specific lab partner but with no results.  Contrary to US media reports, Thompson did know Rosen who was his lab partner and who has been very offensive to him on previous occasions and even the day in question. Now UCLA in an attempt to shift blame away from itself has sought to discredit the mental stability of Thompson by using his many complaints by e-mail as an indication of instability.

But according to KTLA news, a professor who taught Thompson said he told a university administrator he was worried about the student's mental health 10 months ago. UCLA history professor Stephen Frank, who taught him Western civilization late last year admits that Thompson sent him several emails complaining that classmates sitting around him had been disruptive and made offensive comments to him while he was taking a written exam and even accused the Professor of taunting him. 

One e-mail stated "I believe I heard you, Professor Frank, say that I was 'troubled' and 'crazy' among other things," Thompson wrote. "My outrage at this situation coupled with the pressure of the very weighted examination dulled my concentration and detracted from my performance."  

Frank said he was present during the entire exam, that Thompson sat in the front row and that he saw nothing to support the student's complaints. Frank said he was told that other professors had reported similar exchanges with Thompson, who complained he was taunted by other students -- in class, the dorms, dining areas and the library.  A university official told Frank that he could only suggest that Thompson seek treatment, but they couldn't require him to seek psychological help. "My concern was in the context of other violent incidents on campuses around the country," Frank said.

Sources close to his family explain that Thompson frequently spoke with his mother and complained about the many things student had done to him and the names he was called even by the female students.  However, they explain that the problem had to be extreme for Thompson to have reacted so violently. 
 
UCLA spokeswoman Carol Stogsdill said university officials were forbidden by federal privacy laws from discussing how the school may have handled any complaints about Thompson's behavior.

Sources say, Thompson has indicated that he was provoked and this is consistent with reports by school sources that ‘the stabbing occurred following an in-class argument.’ Witnesses report that in addition to stabbing her, Thompson also allegedly punched Rosen. He reportedly turned around and calmly walked out of the lab and reported to the administration that he had just stabbed his classmate.

The alleged victim then staggered out of the lab bleeding profusely and it was with the help of a teacher’s assistant that she was rushed to the on campus hospital, the Ronald Reagan Medical Center where she is still hospitalized but is expected to recover fully.
 
Thompson was offered bail in the sum of $3 million because prosecutors argued that he was a flight risk. Reports are that he didn’t meet the bail and was remanded to prison.  If convicted for this offence Thompson could serve a life sentence in state prison with possibility of parole.  His defense attorney Robin B. Berkovitz described her client as a hard-working biochemistry major with no criminal record in addressing the court.  She has just been assigned to the case and has been unable to say much about the details of the matter.

Damon Thompson left Belize two years ago to attend UCLA.  He is a biochemistry major. His ambition is to become a doctor.  Those who knew him in Belize described him as a quiet and mannerly hard-working student who did not interfere with anyone and teachers who have taught him are shocked at the incident and cannot believe that he was not provoked.  He never hanged out on the street and ran around with friends but rather was very disciplined and mature.

Both of Thompson’s parents, his father who is a US citizen, attended his arraignment.  Thompson had already obtained his residency through his father and was in the process of obtaining his citizenship. He is scheduled to reappear in Court on October 27, 2009.