By KEN RITTER Associated Press
LAS VEGAS (AP) — The University of Texas at Dallas has banned a student from attending classes on campus while she serves house arrest in Texas ahead of trial in a Las Vegas-area stabbing that drew international attention, a campus official said Wednesday.
Authorities in Nevada have said Nika Nikoubin, 22, attacked her date in a hotel room last year in retaliation for the 2020 death of an Iranian military leader killed in an American drone strike.
Phil Roth, a university spokesman, confirmed that Nikoubin was admitted for the spring 2023 semester before university officials became aware that she was charged with a crime and is under the jurisdiction of a Nevada court.
“Because the safety of our campus and our community is of utmost importance, we have removed her from campus,” Roth said in a statement. It said campus police “will monitor the student’s compliance with the removal order.”
In Las Vegas, Clark County District Court Judge Carli Kierny said Wednesday she didn’t have authority to make a campus ban part of tight restrictions imposed on Nikoubin while she lives with her parents in Frisco, Texas.
But the judge did decide that Nikoubin, an aspiring music video performer, can’t book singing and dancing performances at venues away from her home.
“At this point, we’ll just say no,” Kierny said of performance gigs, adding that Nikoubin can ask officials overseeing her pretrial release to seek prior court approval on a case-by-case basis.
A campus police detective, Rod Bishop, cited security concerns and Monday’s fatal mass shooting at Michigan State University as he asked the judge to issue a court order banning Nikoubin from UT Dallas, where Nikoubin’s father is a professor.
Three university students were killed and five were wounded in East Lansing, Michigan, before a 43-year-old gunman shot himself dead as police confronted him following an hours-long manhunt. Authorities said the man had no known connection to the university and a motive for the shooting was not immediately known.
“After this week’s shooting,” Bishop said by teleconference to the Las Vegas courtroom, “along with continued campus violence across the nation, students and parents are even more alarmed about safety issues.”
Bishop on Monday told Kierny that Texas police only became aware of Nikoubin’s criminal charges in Nevada after a reporter tried to interview her about her internet music video posted under the name Nika Borouj, according to KLAS-TV in Las Vegas.
Earlier Wednesday, Bishop had said UT Dallas reached an agreement with Nikoubin restricting her to online courses only, and that she will “not return to the university (campus) while her legal issue is pending.”
“It is important that our 31,000 students as well as our staff and faculty know that their safety is our priority,” he said.
Kierny restated Nikoubin’s restrictions, including a GPS monitor, an evening curfew and limited travel for specified purposes on a pre-approved schedule, including to school. The judge called it “a private issue, whether she is allowed on campus.”
“That would be up to you,” Kierny told Bishop.
Nikoubin’s father, Tooraj Nikoubin, an electrical and computer engineering professor at the university, declined to comment by email and telephone on Wednesday.
Nika Nikoubin has pleaded not guilty and faces trial in July on attempted murder and felony battery with a weapon charges following her arrest in the alleged March 2022 attack.
Authorities said she told officers that she met the unidentified victim on a dating app and then stabbed him inside a Henderson hotel room as the two had sex. The man was blindfolded at the time, officials said. He survived the attack.
Henderson police said Nikoubin acknowledged using a knife and told investigators it was an act of revenge for the death of Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian military leader killed by an American drone aircraft strike in January 2020.
“The U.S. killed Soleimani. … So I feel like it’s fair that American blood be spilled,” Nikoubin told an officer, according to bodycam footage taken during the aftermath of the stabbing.
Nikoubin underwent court-ordered psychological evaluations in Nevada before she was found competent to face criminal charges. She was indicted by a grand jury in December.
Her defense attorney, Alanna Bondy, told Kierny on Wednesday that Nikoubin has been making the 40-minute trip from home to college in Dallas, and rather than return home, stays at her father’s office on Tuesdays and Thursdays between morning classes that end before 10 a.m. and evening classes that begin at 6 p.m.
Bondy said her client is a permanent U.S. resident. She declined to comment about elements of the case.
Kierny set Nikoubin’s next court date for March 29.