Two former college football players pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to severely beating a homeless man in Allston and only stopping when a passerby put herself between the men and the victim, authorities said.
Craig Parsons, 22, of West Newton, and Anthony Varrichione, 23, of Medway, were arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on indictments charging them withaggravated assault and battery and aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, according to the Suffolk district attorney's office. Parsons is also charged with witness intimidation.
Prosecutors said the victim, a then-50-year-old homeless man, was panhandling for money in the area of 74 Allston St. at about 2 a.m. on Jan. 26 when he became involved in a verbal altercation with Parsons and Varrichione who told the man to go away.
"Parsons and Varrichione allegedly approached him and began punching and kicking him. Parsons also allegedly knocked the victim’s head into the sidewalk," the Suffolk district attorney's office said.
A woman who witnesses part of the attack intervened and shielded the homeless man by putting her body between the man and the alleged attackers. She also held the homeless man's head until help arrived. The man was taken to a hospital in critical condition. He is expected to survive and has no memory of the attack.
"As disturbing as this attack was, it also showed the courage of passersby who refused to look the other way when they saw someone being hurt," Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley said in a statement. "That bravery and compassion is in stark contrast to the cruel and craven nature of this assault."
Police canvassed the area and talked with witnesses and nearby residents, but were unable to immediately locate the suspects.
Over the next three months a grand jury investigation was conducted, which involved the calling of more than 17 witnesses before receiving the indictments.
During the probe, investigators learned that Parsons allegedly directed a person known to him not to cooperate with the investigation and not to identify him to authorities, prosecutors said.
Lawyers for the two men said that they expect each of them to be cleared of the charges, according to the Globe. Parsons's lawyer said he is a "good kid," while Varrichione's attorney said he's "never been in any difficulty before."
Parsons was listed as a tight end for the Boston College Eagles during his junior year. He was listed as six feet, six inches tall and weighing 253 pounds.
Varrichione previously played quarterback for Marist College in New York and was listed in the 2011 season as being six feet, four inches tall and weighing 225 pounds.
Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.