Saturday, April 17, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now?--Indiana Ear Biter Acquitted of Battery

A New Castle, Indiana man was acquitted by a Henry County Jury of felony battery in an incident from April Fool's day 2009 involving a road scrape with a local area cyclist.  According to the account at the, Curtis A. "Alan" Cross (mug shot) bit off more than a sizeable chunk of ear Jeffrey Guffey's ear lobe.  Here's a sizable chunck of Douglas Walker's report from the Muncie, Indiana Star Press:

"Cross, 44, had been charged with a Class C felony, carrying a standard four-year prison term, in an attack, on April Fool's Day 2009, on Jeffrey Guffey. Authorities said Cross attacked the 32-year-old Guffey, who had shouted at the defendant to slow down as he drove on East 20th Street at what Guffey said was a high rate of speed.

According to a police report, Cross told officers he became angry, stopped his pickup truck and confronted Guffey after the alleged victim held up his middle finger as Cross drove past.  The defendant also maintained Guffey threw the first blow in their fight, an allegation Guffey strongly denied. After negotiations on a plea agreement in the case broke down last September, defense attorney Joseph Lansinger filed a motion maintaining his client had used 'justifiable reasonable force' in his encounter with Guffey.

'It doesn't matter how the fight ended,' Lansinger told jurors in his closing remarks Wednesday. 'It matters how the fight started.  It doesn't matter why (Cross) got out of the car,' the attorney said. 'That's not illegal. ... (It was) beyond dumb, but it wasn't illegal for him to do that.'

Lansinger also noted that immediately after losing a portion of his ear, Guffey rode his bicycle to his mother's house, rather than calling police or seeking medical treatment. Why would a person who's just been attacked not call police? he asked.. .. .[the prosecutor]  maintained Cross was not 'entitled' to claim he had acted in self-defense.

'If anybody's entitled to self-defense, it's Jeff Guffey, all 110 or 115 pounds of him,' he said. 'None of this would have happened had the accused just gone on.' Guffey's torn left ear has been restructured by a surgeon and now resembles a fully formed ear, albeit significantly smaller than his right one.

Last September, Guffey told The Star Press he was not in favor of a proposed plea bargain that called for Cross to be placed on home detention.  'I don't wish jail on anybody,' Guffey said, 'but he bit my ear off.'"
Here's a perfect example of what we've been talking about in terms of proof of all elements of a crime being necessary for a conviction.  The defense attorney deserves a big "thank you," are you listening Mr. Cross?

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