A man serving a 10-year prison sentence after he bit a chunk off another man’s ear in 2016 will remain behind bars after the V.I. Supreme Court affirmed his conviction for mayhem.
Emanuel Greer, 50, of Calabash Boom, St. John, was arrested June 4, 2016, after he attacked another man and bit a large piece of his ear off.
The victim, Akeimo Williams, was traveling on the ferry from St. Thomas to St. John. Williams testified at trial that Greer was pacing on the boat and talking loudly to himself, and they got into a dispute when Williams asked Greer and another man to keep it down.
Greer threatened to throw Williams overboard and drown him. After the ferry docked and as Williams began walking to work, Greer assaulted and repeatedly bit Williams.
Williams was taken to Myrah Keating Clinic for treatment where doctors were unable to reattach the piece of ear.
Greer was charged with two crimes, and at trial, the jury was unable to agree on his guilt regarding the charge of assault. But on May 24, 2017, jurors found Greer guilty of mayhem.
Greer had two previous convictions before he was sentenced in March 2018 under the habitual offender statute, meaning that he is not eligible for probation, parole or early release, and no portion of his decade-long prison sentence will be suspended.
Greer’s attorney Alex Golubitsky appealed his conviction, arguing that a conviction for mayhem requires that the victim be permanently and seriously disfigured, and Williams’ injury does not qualify.
But the Supreme Court disagreed, and found that “there is absolutely no question that Williams was seriously disfigured and that his appearance remained such as ‘a reasonable observer would find his appearance distressing or objectionable,’” according to an opinion filed April 20 by Associate Justice Ive Arlington Swan. “Indeed, the facts here forcefully demonstrate the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words.”
Photos of the injury presented at trial “graphically display that a significant portion of Williams’ ear was bitten off and that the missing portion was visible by any casual observer,” Swan wrote.
A doctor who testified at trial explained “that the ‘white part’ in the picture was exposed, severed cartilage and further explained that the severed portion of the ear could not be reattached; therefore, it is irrefutable that the disfigurement was permanent. There is no doubt that a reasonable observer would find the loss of such a significant portion of an ear distressing.”