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UPDATED: Stabbing suspect pleads not guilty

By Carolyn McGough and Daniel Schonhaut

Oct. 13, 2009 1:54 p.m.

The 20-year-old UCLA student who was arrested on Thursday for allegedly stabbing a female victim in his Chemistry 30CL class was charged today with one count of attempted murder.

The student, Damon Thompson, pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole, according to Jane Robison, a spokeswoman at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Thompson’s bail was increased to $3 million after a judge determined he was at risk of fleeing the country.

Special allegations of causing great bodily harm and personally using a knife were added to the charge of attempted murder, Robison said.

“We’re under the assumption now that it’s an unprovoked attack,” said Mike Pelletier, a Los Angeles Police Department detective. “There’s no evidence to show there’s any reason for the attack.”

The district attorney is alleging that Thompson committed the stabbing willfully and with premeditation.

Robison said Thompson brought the knife used in the attack with him to class, though she did not specify what kind of knife it was. The victim, doctors said in a UCLA statement, is recovering. She is out of intensive care and is in good condition.

Thompson and the victim were standing next to each other during a chemistry lab, according to the district attorney’s office. Thompson allegedly stabbed her five times, slashing her throat in the process.

Though the victim’s name was released to the press on Tuesday night, the Daily Bruin has elected to withhold the name in accordance with the victim’s family’s wishes.

A close friend of the victim, who chose not to be named because of privacy concerns, said she thinks safety on campus should be reevaluated after this incident.

“We need to be focusing on student safety,” she said.

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