Biting your opponent during a brawl may violate the rules of what's considered a fair fight, but it doesn't turn the attack into first-degree assault.
PORTLAND — Biting your opponent during a brawl may violate the rules of what's considered a fair fight, but it doesn't turn the attack into first-degree assault.
The Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled Wednesday that teeth cannot be considered dangerous weapon in a case that grew out of a 2008 fight between two Marion County men.
During the fight, 30-year-old Scott Russell Kuperus II clamped down and took out a chunk of his opponent's lower ear. He was arrested and later convicted of first-degree assault and second-degree assault and sentenced to 90-months in prison. His attorney argued the first-degree assault charge was wrong.
The Court of Appeals agreed.
One of the requirements to be charged with first-degree assault is the use of a dangerous weapon — in this case, that would be teeth.
State law defines a dangerous weapon as: Any weapon, device, instrument, material or substance which under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used or threatened to be used, is readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury.
"They were both neighbors and both incredibly drunk," said Mark Obert, Kuperus' attorney. "If teeth are not a weapon, then the first-degree assault charge does not apply."
The court allowed the second-degree assault conviction to stand, noting that victim sustained a "serious and protracted disfigurement."
A portion of the victim's ear is "visibly missing," and he requires a prosthetic replacement.
Tony Green, spokesman for the State Department of Justice, said no decision has yet been made on whether to appeal the ruling.
"What happens now," Obert said, "is Kuperus will be brought back to court. The first-degree assault will be dismissed and he will be sentenced for second-degree assault, which is 70 months."