The night of March 30th, 2016 was chaotic on the Salem State University campus after a senior student, Stephen Chastain, violently assaulted a professor in a bathroom; the professor’s identity has been withheld for privacy and security concerns. According to witnesses and police statements, Chastain first strangled the professor before stabbing him up to 30 times, only stopping when witnesses came to the professor’s aid. Seemingly a miracle, the victim of the attack suffered only “superficial” wounds and is expected to recover.
What was the Student’s Motive?
The Essex County District Attorney’s office has charged Chastain with attempted murder, assault with a dangerous weapon, strangulation, and assault and battery. And while the consequences of his violent actions are clear to see, the young man’s motives are not. University staff and spokespersons do not believe that the student and the professor had any past encounters or relations, suggesting that the attack was completely random and possibly not spurred on by plotting or premeditation.
A judge has ordered that Chastain undergo a mental health evaluation before his hearing begins. The nature of the act of violence and the judge’s decision suggest that the student could be suffering from serious mental health disorders. If it can be proven through the evaluation, it may be possible for Chastain’s defense to rely on an insanity plea for more lenient sentencing or detention in a mental health facility rather than jail.
For more information about criminal defense for college students and violent crimes, you can contact Brad Bailey Law today. Our nationally-recognized Boston criminal defense attorneys have more than 30 years of experience protecting the rights of the criminally accused. If you need their help, you can set up an initial consultation.