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Salem man to plead guilty in stabbing of UNH student


DOVER — A Salem man charged with stabbing a University of New Hampshire student plans to plead guilty to first- and second-degree assault, according to court records.

Matthew Gibbons, 21, allegedly stabbed Dean Skelley with a knife on Feb. 20, 2016, at 17 Madbury Road, just before 12:45 a.m.

When police arrived on the scene, Skelley was lying in the third-floor hallway outside Apt. 310, holding his abdomen. He sustained injuries to his stomach and back. Emergency rescue crews took Skelley to Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover where he underwent surgery.

Eric Denning, 21, of Salem, was with Gibbons on the night of the stabbing, and allegedly broke Casey Calvo’s nose by punching him in the face. Calvo needed surgery to repair the damage. Denning has been charged with second-degree assault.

After the incident, Gibbons and Denning posed for a photo, which Gibbons posted on Snapchat with the caption that read, “When me and Eric ---- on kids.”

A copy of that photo is in an envelope containing evidence related to the case at Strafford County Superior Court, along with a number of voluntary statements from witnesses.

If Gibbons had gone forward with a trial, prosecutor Lauren DiGiovanni was prepared to call 46 witnesses to testify on behalf of the state.

Before his arrest, Gibbons admitted to police that he became angry during a confrontation with Skelley and swung a knife at him. Gibbons told a detective he had consumed alcohol, and that did not mix well with the prescription drugs he takes. Both he and Denning later claimed self defense.

According to witness statements, that claim is not reliable. Calvo told police Gibbons and Denning knocked on the door of the apartment where he and Skelley were hanging out, and when they finally answered it, they could see Gibbons and Denning running down the hall.

Words were exchanged, and as Calvo and Skelley moved closed, Calvo could see Gibbons was holding a knife.

“He started stabbing the knife into walls and doors and when we came closer the kid who didn’t have the knife came and hit me in the face, nose and head, which immediately started bleeding,” Calvo told police. “I turned around to go back to the room to try and wash my face and then I heard a scream. I ran out and Dean was holding his stomach and the kids were running down the stairs.”

Gibbons is free on $100,000 cash bail. Denning is free on $50,000 personal recognizance bail. Both men were suspended from UNH following the incident and have been directed to have no contact with their victims.

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