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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Student's Arraignment Put Off Until Wednesday

November 07, 2000

POMONA — A Pomona College student charged with attempted murder for allegedly stabbing a popular philosophy professor appeared in court Monday--but was allowed to delay entering a plea until Wednesday.

Jared Essig, 22, is accused of stabbing professor Frederick Sontag Oct. 30 with a pocketknife as the professor drove the senior to his dormitory at the oldest of the seven Claremont colleges.

Pomona Superior Court Commissioner Wade Olson reduced Essig's bail from $1 million to $550,000 and granted a request from Stuart Holmes, Essig's attorney, to delay the student's arraignment until Wednesday morning. Holmes said he wanted to talk to his client before entering a plea.

Essig sat in the jury box, answered to his name and smiled at his parents, who were among the spectators.

Sontag, who is recovering at home, has said he's forgiven the Essig, whom he said has a history of mental problems and was out of his mind at the time of the incident.

Essig was hospitalized twice during his sophomore year for mental illness but since had become an active leader on campus, said his roommate J.B. Waterman.

The alleged attack occurred after Sontag picked up Essig from the Claremont police jail, where the student was being held after being arrested on suspicion of shoplifting, vandalism and public intoxication. Essig's behavior led police to contact a mental health agency that decided the student was no threat to himself or others, authorities said.

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