A 30-year-old postal worker was found guilty of mayhem and malicious disfigurement yesterday after a woman testified he took a bite out of her ear in a lover's spat last year.
Sharon Diana Ross, 31, told a D.C. Superior Court jury that she was dancing with Charles F. Williams at the Metro Club in Northeast Washington last Sept. 16, when he whispered into her ear that if she moved, he would bite it off.
Ross said she moved -- and felt Williams' teeth take off a large chunk off the top of her right ear. She said she has had to undergo cosmetic surgery three times to have the ear reconstructed.
"I'd say we're still friends," Ross testified, when asked by Williams' attorney, Irvin Foster, to describe her current relationship with the defendant. "He's all right with me."
Government witnesses testified that Williams, of 437 Evarts St. NE, and Ross, of 1617 Holbrook St. NE, had quarreled that evening after Williams told her not to go to a dance at the Metro Club, at 2335 Bladensburg Rd. NE.
But, according to testimony, Ross decided to go with a girlfriend anyway. When she arrived, Williams confronted her and accused her of being out with another man. Williams than shoved her outside, ripping her dress in the process, witnesses testified.
Ross testified that she returned to the club the same night after her girlfriend phoned and said Williams had left.
But shortly after Ross returned, Williams showed up again and demanded to dance with her, according to testimony.
Ross just said no, but when Williams persisted, she agreed to dance, she said. At the end of the dance, she testified, he bit her ear and spat out the piece.
Williams, who said he had downed 12 to 15 drinks that night, said he remembers only dancing with Ross and wispering in her ear.
Several jurors said they had thought the case was humorous at first, but later agreed that the biting was "just as serious as a stabbing or a shooting."
"On the one hand, this case is a dispute between lovers," said juror Rod Mitchell, an interior designer. "But in a larger sense, this is something the whole community reacts to and we have to decide what standard of conduct we want in our community."
Juror Clifford Burton said he felt "a case like this should never have come into the courts. This was a boyfriend-girlfriend problem and should have been handled some other way."
Another juror said, "We did not think the case was amusing. It was grotesque and some jurors winced when they recounted the details of the incident described in testimony."
Ross said after the trial that she had tried in recent months to drop the charges against Williams. "I wanted to drop the case but the U.S. attorney told me they were going to prosecute him anyway."
"I know he tried to hurt me," she added. "But I don't want to see him go to jail. This is not an eye-for-an-eye-type of thing."
Williams, who will be sentenced Oct. 9, could receive a jail term of up to 10 years for the crime.