UMaine athlete charged with murder apparently received probation, community service in earlier domestic assault case

Posted June 27, 2014, at 6:52 p.m.
Last modified June 28, 2014, at 7:03 a.m.
Zedric Joseph
Zedric Joseph

ORONO, Maine — Zedric Joseph, the former University of Maine football player now facing murder charges in Florida, apparently was given probation and 20 hours of community service by the university in 2012 after his arrest on a domestic violence assault charge in Orono, according to records obtained by the BDN.

The victim in that assault, 23-year-old Vashti Laurore, the mother of Joseph’s daughter, reportedly was attacked by Joseph with a knife in March in a double stabbing that left her friend Ricardy Chery, 23, dead.

Joseph, 23, is charged with Chery’s murder, aggravated battery and burglary while armed and remains jailed in Florida.

After Joseph’s arrest in March, UMaine officials held a press conference to defend their handling of the 2012 incident involving him, calling it “comprehensive and thorough.” The university, however, declined to release information about the case, citing confidentiality laws.

The BDN obtained the record of the allegations apparently made against Joseph and the resulting sanctions by requesting the outcomes of all student discipline cases heard by UMaine’s Office of Community Standards, Rights and Responsibilities over the past five years.

The records do not name Joseph specifically, but a student conduct inquiry was filed on Dec. 17, 2012 — the same day he was arrested in connection with the assault on Laurore — charging a UMaine student with relationship abuse, domestic violence, physical assault and conduct which endangers others, a mirror of the criminal charges against Joseph.

Joseph was arrested on Dec. 17, 2012, by Officer Jason Butterfield of the University of Maine Police Department and was charged with domestic violence assault, domestic violence criminal threatening and misdemeanor assault.

The domestic violence case was one of only two student conduct cases brought in December 2012. The other involved a violation of the university’s alcohol policy by a minor student.

In March, the university’s vice president for student affairs, Robert Dana, said: “I can’t talk about [Joseph’s] case, but what usually happens in 100 percent of the [domestic violence assault] cases is that a student would be required to receive domestic assault and relationship violence counseling.”

He added, “They would be required to receive other types of counseling. They would be constrained from interactions with the person, the complainant in the case, and they probably would have to be involved in positive community experiences.”

The UMaine file correlating to Joseph lists seven student conduct violations and hearing findings of “responsible” for violating the stalking and relationship abuse policy, physical assault and imminent physical harm.

The student was found “not responsible” for substantial disruption of activities, relationship abuse/domestic violence and conduct which endangers.

The sanctions include disciplinary probation from Jan. 23, 2013, to May 31, 2013; 20 hours of community service, residence hall relocation and an “other sanction.”

Margaret Nagle, UMaine spokeswoman, said Thursday that the sanctions against the student were completed, but she could not release further details.

“I can tell you that ‘other’ typically means that a student is required to receive assessment and/or counseling at the Counseling Center on campus,” she said.

The findings of “not responsible,” she added, “can mirror charges being dropped in a police case or, more commonly, lack of evidence to support a finding of responsibility.”

Joseph later entered into a plea agreement with the Penobscot County district attorney’s office to drop all the criminal 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 Laurore then moved back to Florida, according to prosecutors in Penobscot County.

Dana, UMaine’s vice president for student affairs, said after Joseph’s arrest that he also was suspended from the football team for a period of time, but would not give specifics.

“[Joseph] was not allowed any contact with the athletic department,” he said.

After the disciplinary probation, Joseph was back on the football field. He suffered a broken leg in the Black Bears’ Sept. 14 game against Bryant, during which he made his first UMaine start. He missed the remainder of the season.

Joseph was suspended March 8 from the university, where he was studying child development and family relations, shortly after his reported involvement in a double stabbing in his hometown.

If convicted, Joseph would be the second former UMaine football player in less than two years to have killed a person. Former UMaine player Jovan Belcher, a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, shot and killed his girlfriend and then took his own life in December 2012.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.

 

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