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Second man pleads guilty in Clarkson University lacrosse player August assault

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CANTON — The second of the two men accused in the severe beating of a Clarkson University lacrosse player in late August pleaded guilty Friday in St. Lawrence County Court.

Dakota J. Vallance, 19, of 399 Buckton Road, Winthrop, pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal assault, a class D felony, after reaching a plea deal with the district attorney’s office.

Mr. Vallance admitted to County Judge Jerome J. Richards that at 1:52 a.m. on Aug. 24, he and Bryan A. Bicknell, 21, of 342 West Parishville Road, Parishville, attacked Donald J.W. Whelley, 21, on Maple Street in the village of Potsdam in front of the former Honda dealership.

The two suspects struck Mr. Whelley repeatedly in the head, causing him “countless fractures and dislocating his face,” according to an indictment handed up Oct. 1 by a St. Lawrence County grand jury. Mr. Whelley required facial reconstructive surgery.

Mr. Vallance and Mr. Bicknell agreed to similar plea deals, whereby they will both be facing six months in the St. Lawrence County jail, five years’ probation supervision and restitution yet to be determined.

Where the deals differ is with Mr. Bicknell’s having agreed to testify against Mr. Vallance if his case went to trial.

Mr. Vallance’s plea deal offers the chance at a youthful offender status, meaning he will not have a criminal record after serving his time.

Prior to Mr. Vallance’s plea Friday, his attorney, county Public Defender Stephen D. Button, told Judge Richards that his client was hoping to move right to sentencing so he could start serving his time.

“Mr. Vallance seems to be out of control,” Judge Richards said. He said since the crime happened in the summer, his sentence would keep him off the street next summer.

“I have sentencing set for April 14, than he will have to serve his sentence during the warm months,” Judge Richards said. “Then I hope to get his attention, as I need to.”

Mr. Vallance was released under probation supervision, with an order of protection for Mr. Vallance and Mr. Bicknell not to contact Mr. Whelley.

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