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Judge drops bail to $500 for ex-Fitchburg State student

WORCESTER — An expelled Fitchburg State University student charged with possessing a military ammunition belt last week is expected to be released on $500 cash bail Thursday after a judge reduced his bail from $50,000 cash.

A group of 52 friends, family, and Fitchburg State University students filled a Worcester Superior Court room Wednesday as Andrew K. Despres’s lawyer argued for his client’s release. He will appear in Fitchburg District Court Thursday.

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Judge Richard T. Tucker reduced Despres’ bail to $500, an amount his parents said they would be able to post by the end of the day. Friends of Despres were handing cash over to his mother, Doreen J. Despres, outside the courtroom.

“His rights have been trampled on,” Despres’s father, Peter Despres, said outside the courtroom.

He begged for civil rights lawyers to contact the family because the family is low on money, but said his son’s case is an example of someone being wrongfully arrested.

Andrew K. Despres, 20, of New Bedford, was arrested and arraigned last week in Fitchburg after Fitchburg State University campus police said he had ammunition in his possession.

His mother, however, said the belt was a post-punk fashion accessory she bought for her son online for $20.

“At least he’s coming home,” Doreen Despres said. “I’m just happy he’s coming home.” She hugged several people outside the courtroom, thanking them for their support.

Nate Bobowski, an FSU student, handed $50 to Doreen Despres for bail money. He gathered the signatures of everyone there to give to her.

In custody in Worcester County Jail and House of Correction in West Boylston, Andrew Despres appeared on a monitor wearing an orange jumpsuit for his bail hearing. His parents quietly listened as their son’s lawyer, Mark Meehan, argued for the young man’s release.

Prosecutors portrayed Despres as the next murderous student prepared to go on a rampage, Meehan said. Meehan argued in court that is a false representation of the man who achieved Eagle Scout status and conducted a coat drive for charity once.

“This courtroom is packed with family and friends of the defendant,” Meehan said, speaking of Despres’ssupport.

Despres has no criminal record and was made an example of, but it was his client’s style and manner of dress that was held against him, the defense lawyer said.

Despres said the ammunition is not functioning, and the belt was worn several times on campus before this incident with no problems.

Despres’s grandmother said she believes court and campus officials overreacted in light of the Newtown, Conn., shooting and other events across the country. “He’s such a good kid. He wouldn’t hurt a fly,” Barbara Despres said.

Assistant District Attorney Joseph A. Simmons argued for the $50,000 bail to remain in place.

Judge Tucker reduced the bail and ordered Andrew Despres to be in the custody of his mother if released. Despres will be placed on a monitoring device and restricted to home confinement in his mother’s home.

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