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Defendant returned to hospital for mental health observation

William E. Bower, 31, of 18 Grove St., has pleaded not guilty in Hampshire Superior Court to charges of attempted murder by strangulation, assault with intent to rape, indecent assault and battery on a person over 14, assault and battery, threatening to commit rape and threatening to commit murder in connection with an Oct. 22, 2012, incident.

Bower had been committed to Bridgewater for a six-month period of evaluation beginning in January.

Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Jennifer Suhl, who is prosecuting, said at the conclusion of that period, officials at Bridgewater determined Bower would benefit from another year of commitment and observation.

Bower, who was present for Tuesday’s hearing but did not address the court, waived his right to contest the commitment.

Bower’s commitment does not affect his criminal case, which is proceeding, Suhl said.

A pre-trial hearing in the case was set for Sept. 5.

According to court records, Bower allegedly attacked a woman, broke her nose and tried to rape her on Knipfer Avenue in Easthampton about 9:30 p.m., Oct. 22. The woman allegedly had spotted Bower, whom she described as appearing disoriented, and offered him assistance.

Bower allegedly wrapped his arm around her neck, told her he had a knife, ordered her to remove her clothing and threatened to rape and kill her, according to court files. The victim fought back by yelling, struggling and biting one of Bower’s fingers hard enough to draw blood. According to police, the woman negotiated her release with Bower while still holding his finger between her teeth. Afterwards, the victim called police, who located Bower a short time later on Cottage Street.

If convicted, Bower faces up to 20 years in state prison.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@gazettenet.com.

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