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Published Jul. 6, 2010

STORRS, Conn. - Police charged a 21-year-old man with murder Tuesday in the stabbing death of a Connecticut football player outside a school-sanctioned dance, where the suspect's lawyer says he was just trying to break up a fight.

John William Lomax III is scheduled to appear in court today on charges of murder and conspiracy to commit assault in the Oct. 18 death of Jasper Howard, police said. His bond was set at $2 million.

Police also arrested two others in connection with the fight that led to Howard's death. Hakim Muhammad, 20, was charged with conspiracy to commit assault and Jamal Todd, 21, faces a felony charge of falsely reporting an incident and a misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment for pulling a fire alarm that emptied the dance early.

None of those arrested is a UConn student. Lomax and Muhammad live in Bloomfield, about 30 miles from campus. Todd lives in Hartford.

Police have said that Howard, a 20-year-old junior cornerback from Miami, was stabbed once in the abdomen during an altercation after the dance was evacuated. Several other players were with him, but coach Randy Edsall said he hasn't heard that any player was involved in anything other than "verbal jostling."

Lomax wasn't present when the argument started and doesn't know what it was about, but he tried to break up the fight and didn't stab anyone, said his attorney, Deron Freeman.

"He was just partying," Freeman said. "Often people from out of town go to the UConn campus to party."

Lomax, a Bloomfield High School graduate who works in information technology, goes by the nickname "Pooda." He last logged into his MySpace page in March, when he listed his occupation as "taking care of my daughter."

On his Facebook page, Lomax's friends include Muhammad and 21-year-old Johnny Hood of Hartford, who was arrested shortly after the stabbing and faces charges of breach of peace and interfering with police. He was pointed out to police by Brian Parker, a UConn player out of Sarasota who suffered minor injuries in the attack.

Police would not discuss evidence or a motive Tuesday. More than 40 investigators conducted more than 200 interviews.

Players said they were happy that an arrest was made, but that it was of little comfort.

"It is a little closure, but the reality is my teammate's still not here with us," running back Jordan Todman said.