Under the Alford Rule a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges the state likely has enough evidence to convict, and carries the same results as a guilty plea. Ricky Lynn Hamilton entered the Alford plea without a plea agreement with prosecutors, so a judge will determine the sentence during a subsequent hearing.
The plea comes just days before Hamilton was scheduled to stand trial, said Wise County Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp.
In the early morning hours of Nov. 13, 2016, Slemp said Hamilton left his residence and walked to a neighboring property with a knife. There, Slemp said Hamilton confronted a group of UVa-Wise students, complaining that someone drove across his land.
Slemp said at some point Hamilton drew his knife and slashed two of the male students without provocation. The students sustained injuries to the face, neck and chest and received medical treatment.
"Crimes of violence, like those in this case, are rare in our community," Slemp said. "We are pleased with these convictions and thankful the injuries sustained by the victims were not life threatening. This was a close call and could have resulted in the death of innocent young people. As such, we hope the court will fashion an appropriate sentence given the severity of the incident."
The sentencing hearing has been scheduled for May 31.