Prosecutor explains plea bargain for UMaine football player accused of 2012 domestic violence assault
ORONO, Maine — The woman who Florida police say was stabbed by a former University of Maine football player last week in an attack that left another man dead told prosecutors in Maine last year that she did not want him to go to jail after she reported that he choked her and threatened to kill her in December 2012, an assistant district attorney said Friday.
“She thought the charges were too harsh and she didn’t want him to go to jail for two years,” Brendan Trainor, assistant district attorney for Penobscot County, said about the case he prosecuted against UMaine student Zedric Joseph.
Joseph, 23, of West Palm Beach, Fla., was arrested Wednesday in connection with the March 7 double stabbing that claimed the life of Ricardy Chery, 23, and injured Vashti Laurore, 23, who is the mother of Joseph’s 2-year-old daughter and a son by another man.
Laurore, whose name is spelled Vasthi Laurori in Maine court documents, suffered a stab wound to the hand during last week’s attack in West Palm Beach.
She walked into the Orono Police Department on Dec. 17, 2012, with dark purple bruises on her neck and told officers that Joseph had choked her twice and threatened to kill her, according to the report filed by Officer Jason Butterfield of the University of Maine Police Department.
“There wasn’t much physical evidence collected regarding the choking, slaps and pushing she described,” Trainor said Friday.
Joseph was arrested by Butterfield and charged with domestic violence assault, domestic violence criminal threatening and misdemeanor assault.
The threatening charge was “dismissed due to the lack of evidence,” Trainor said.
Joseph later entered into a plea agreement with the district attorney’s office to drop the other charges in exchange for pleading guilty to disorderly conduct, which he did in May 2013.
The charges were changed because it was the first offense for Joseph, the couple had moved to Maine from Florida together and at the time they were cooperating with Department of Health and Human Services investigators, called in to check on the welfare of the two young children in the home, Trainor said.
“She moved back to Florida before the case was resolved,” the prosecutor said, referring to Laurore. “We told her about the [plea] offer and she was fine with it.”
Studies by health and domestic violence prevention advocates show it is not unusual for victims to avoid pursuing charges.
Joseph was sentenced to 48 hours in jail, which was counted as time served.
After last week’s stabbing, Joseph fled to Georgia, where he was apprehended by Richmond County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
He remained at the Richmond County Jail in Augusta, Ga., on Friday, and is expected to be formally charged with murder and two counts of aggravated assault once he is returned to Florida.
“He’s waiting to go to court to sign the extradition papers,” Capt. William Reeves of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office said Friday. “It takes a few days [to get the paperwork from Florida]. It’s a good chance he’ll go on Monday. He’s just sitting here waiting.”
Police will release more details about what they believe happened during the stabbing once Joseph arrives in Florida, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Teri Barbera said Friday.
“As soon as he gets into our jail, it will be available,” she said, referring to the police affidavit. “Right now, he’s being held on a warrant, a probable cause warrant.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS 800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.