VERNON, Conn. (CBS4) — The man accused of fatally stabbing a star South Florida high school football player who went on to play at the University of Connecticut, pleaded no contest on Friday to first-degree manslaughter.

John Lomax III, of Bloomfield, who had faced a murder charge, entered his plea to the lesser charge in Superior Court in Rockville, according to the court clerk’s office.

Lomax faces up to 20 years in prison at sentencing. An investigation of the case was ordered ahead of the sentencing set for March 25.

Authorities say the 22-year-old Lomax stabbed Jasper Howard, a defensive back for UC who used to play for Miami Edison Senior High. Howard was stabbed in the abdomen during a dispute outside a dance on campus on Oct. 18, 2009, that investigators think started over a comment one player made about a woman. According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Lomax and a friend retrieved knives from a car during the altercation, which broke out between a group of football players and a group that included Lomax.

Several witnesses identified Lomax as the man who stabbed Howard, according to the affidavit. But Lomax denied it was him and his lawyers said there were other witnesses who support his version of events.

According to the affidavit, wide receiver Mike Smith told police he saw Howard throw a punch at a man later identified as Lomax. Smith said that Howard ran across the street yelling, “They got me!” and that he walked with him toward the student center before Howard collapsed on the sidewalk.

Other players identified as being at the altercation included defensive end A.J. Portee, receiver Kashif Moore and tailback Kelmetrus Wiley. Parker, who suffered minor injuries, was dismissed from the team in January for academic reasons. None of the players has been charged with any crime.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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