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Ex-student admits to vicious assault

Former University at Buffalo student Kevin F. Rowland pleaded guilty Wednesday to a beating and stomping this spring in a Main Street parking lot that left another student permanently paralyzed.

Rowland, 23, of Wappingers Falls, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault for the attack on Michael W. Bliss, 21, in the parking lot of the Steer Restaurant on Main near Winspear Avenue at about 3:30 a.m. March 22.

With Rowland's parents as well as the victim, a Rochester native, in court, Rowland admitted he helped Charles P. Jordan stomp Bliss following a dispute in the bar.

State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia committed to imposing an eight-year prison term on Rowland. But he warned that the relatively lenient sentence is contingent on Rowland's continued cooperation with prosecutors in the attempted murder and assault trial facing Jordan, 22, of Clifton Park.

Today, Buscaglia is to resume a pretrial hearing in the case against Jordan, also a former UB student. His trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 1.

Wednesday, prosecutor Paul E. Bonanno told the judge that Bliss and his parents "are amenable" to Rowland's plea deal given his agreement to cooperate in the case against Jordan, who faces a possible 25-year prison term if convicted.

Joseph J. Terranova, Rowland's attorney, had been in negotiations with prosecutors since the summer. He told the judge that Rowland "was intoxicated" during the incident but he "has accepted responsibility" for his actions and "is prepared" for prison.

Though the prosecutor expressed concern about Rowland's mental stability in light of the fact that he knows he faces a lengthy prison term, the judge allowed him to remain free on a previously posted $50,000 bail bond pending his Jan. 7 sentencing.

Both Bliss and Rowland declined to comment as they separately left the Buffalo courtroom Wednesday. Bliss suffered neck, back and other injuries in the attack and uses a wheelchair.

Michael Gunderman, 23, the former college roommate of Rowland and Jordan, had also been arrested in the stomping. However, he was cleared of criminal responsibility after he testified before the Erie County grand jury that heard the case.
e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com1

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