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Two plead not guilty in assault of Clarkson lacrosse player

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POTSDAM — The two St. Lawrence County men accused of breaking the jaw of a Clarkson University Lacrosse player in the early morning hours of Aug. 24 were released under probation supervision Friday at the dismay of the student’s family in Potsdam Village Court after pleading not guilty.

Stephen M. Whelley went from shifting in his seat Friday morning with his wife Ruth at his side to standing and calling for the judge to hear his case when Village Justice Nicholas J. Pignone told suspects Bryan A. Bicknell, 20, of 342 West Parishville Road, Parishville, and Dakota J. Vallance, 18, of 399 Buckton Road, Winthrop, that he would continue their probation and not remand them to jail.

Mr. Whelley was asked to take his seat; however, after the pleading, he said his outburst in court was due to not fully understanding the strategy in place by the St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s office.

“This is not over,” Mr. Whelley said to teammates of his son Donald J. W. Whelley outside the courtroom. “This has only just begun. We are going to the gates of hell with this.”

Mr. Whelley said he was “disappointed and perplexed” by the decision to release Mr. Bicknell and Mr. Vallance, adding that he expected to see their cases go before St. Lawrence County Court.

This is the second time Mr. Bicknell and Mr. Vallance have appeared in Village Court, though this time each appeared with counsel.

Mr. Vallance was represented by St. Lawrence County Assistant Public Defender Steven G. Ballan and Mr. Bicknell was represented by St. Lawrence County Assistant Conflict Defender Heather A. Dona.

Both defense attorneys declined comment on the ongoing case.

In addition to probation, the defendants have been given curfews of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and a no-contact order of protection in favor of Donald Whelley was amended by Judge Pignone to include Daniel R. Netter, the witness who found Mr. Whelley bloodied and semiconscious in the parking lot of the former Honda dealership.

Judge Pignone adjourned the matter to 9:30 a.m. Sep. 20.

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