Court upholds mayhem conviction in ear-biting case

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BOSTON (AP) — The Massachusetts Appeals Court on Tuesday refused to throw out the mayhem conviction of a Springfield man who bit off part of a youth basketball coach’s ear.

Timothy Forbes was sentenced to up to four years in jail after being found guilty of mayhem and assault and battery causing serious bodily injury.

Prosecutors said Forbes attacked the coach of the team his two sons were playing against after a championship game in 2012. Forbes’ sons were on the losing team.

After the game, Forbes began to kick and throw punches at Feliciano, who backpedalled away from Forbes. With Feliciano up against a gymnasium wall, Forbes locked him in a “bear hug,” pinned his arms and positioned his mouth near Feliciano’s neck, according to a summary included in the court’s ruling.

A group of people, including Feliciano’s wife, attempted to pull Forbes off Feliciano.

“It was at this point that Feliciano felt the defendant’s teeth clamp onto his left ear and then heard a ‘crunching’ sound as a portion of the ear was ripped off,” the court said in its ruling.

“In this manner, the defendant bit off a large piece of Feliciano’s ear, later measured to be four centimeters by two and one-half centimeters.”

Forbes “spat out the severed piece of ear on the floor” and ran out of the gym.

In his appeal, Forbes argued that he didn’t act with “malicious intent to maim or disfigure,” as required under the mayhem law. The Appeals Court rejected that argument, finding that “a jury might well have wondered how he could have bitten off a large portion of Feliciano’s ear without maliciously intending to maim or disfigure him.”

The court did overturn Forbes’ assault and battery conviction, finding that it was duplicative of the mayhem conviction.

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