updated 4/9/2007 7:07:44 PM ET 2007-04-09T23:07:44

A college student accused of stabbing a science professor who gave him a failing grade plans to plead guilty to the attack, his lawyer said Monday.

Nikhil Dhar, 24, is accused of attacking his professor at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell because he was flunking out of school and feared he would be deported to his native India.

Dhar was scheduled to go to trial Wednesday in Middlesex Superior Court in Cambridge. But his attorney, Stephen Hrones, said there won't be a trial and that Dhar plans to enter guilty pleas April 17 to charges of armed assault with intent to murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

"It's going to be a plea. We're not in much of a position to go to trial. The evidence is basically pretty overwhelming," Hrones said.

Dhar is accused of stabbing Mary Elizabeth Hooker on Dec. 22, 2005, after following her more than 20 miles from the Lowell campus to her Cambridge home. Right before the attack, Dhar allegedly told Hooker, "Now I will have to go back to my country," police said.

Hooker, an assistant professor of clinical lab sciences at UMass-Lowell, had Dhar as a student in her hematology lecture and laboratory courses.

Note found in pocket
Police said they found a bloody note in his pocket, which read, "I'm sorry I'm having to do this. But I have no options left. ... You look at me and I will kill you. I have nothing to lose."

Hooker told police Dhar approached her at her home and wanted to talk about failing her class. She said when she suggested going to a coffee shop to talk, he dragged into the yard, hit her and stabbed her in the neck, according to police reports.

Hooker was hospitalized for several days after the attack.

Hrones said Dhar, who was from Calcutta, India, came to the United States on a student visa.

"There was tremendous pressure on him because he was flunking his courses, and if he flunked out of school, he'd be deported," Hrones said.

"His family is also very highly educated, and he wasn't doing well. It was a combination of those two things that exploded. This was completely out of character."

Hrones said he has been talking with prosecutors about a sentencing recommendation to make to the judge, but the two sides have not reached an agreement.

"We're in discussions. We are in the process of trying to work something out," Hrones said.

Deportation after prison
Corey Welford, a spokesman for Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone, would not comment on any talks prosecutors have had with Dhar's attorney.

"If the defendant does choose to plead guilty to these charges, we will be ready with a sentencing recommendation in court," Welford said.

Hooker did not immediately return a message left at her office at UMass-Lowell.

Hrones would not discuss what sentence he is seeking. He said Dhar would be deported after he completes his prison term.

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