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It’s Still Assault to Bite in a Fight, but Not 1st Degree

(CN) - Biting someone in a fight does not qualify as assault with a dangerous weapon, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled.

Scott Russell Kuperus II bit a chunk out of his opponent's ear. The victim now wears a prosthetic device above his left earlobe to cover a 5-centimeter scar.

Kuperus was arrested and charged with first- and second-degree assault. He argued that both charges should be dropped because his teeth are not a dangerous weapon, adding that the victim was not seriously hurt.

The trial court found Kuperus guilty and sentenced him to 90 months in prison. But the Oregon Court of Appeals overturned the first-degree conviction Wednesday on the tooth issue.

"In classifying the severity of an assault, in part, on the use of a dangerous weapon in the commission of a crime, the legislature intended to distinguish between assaults committed without the use of an object external to the human body that could be used to harm the victim and those assaults in which such an object is used," Judge Lynn Nakamoto wrote for the court.

The three-judge panel upheld the second-degree assault conviction based on the victim's scar and use of a prosthesis. The court sent the case back to the trial court for resentencing.

The Oregonian reports that the dropped charge could shave 20 months off Kuperus' sentence. The report also quoted Kuperus' attorney describing the 2008 incident as a brawl between two drunken neighbors.

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