By Dave Rogers
---- — NEWBURYPORT — A local man accused of biting the flesh off another man’s neck during a brawl outside the Port Tavern last weekend remains behind bars after yesterday’s court appearance was postponed a week.
Daniel P. Russell, 58, 189 Merrimac St., No. 2, Newburyport, was charged with mayhem and assault and battery after allegedly biting a section of flesh off the neck of an Amesbury man who was enjoying a night out with his wife at the Port Tavern on Saturday night. The incident was the culmination of a decade-long dispute between the men. The victim had hired Russell to paint his home, and fired him before he had completed the job.
The victim is expected to require plastic surgery to repair the severe injury to his neck. Police Marshal Tom Howard said the injury was “one of the most vicious bites I have ever seen on an individual.”
On Monday, Judge Allen Swan ordered Russell held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing originally scheduled for yesterday. But during his appearance at court yesterday, Judge Patricia Dowling ordered that hearing postponed until July 17.
Essex County District Attorney spokesperson Carrie Kimball-Monahan said no official reason for the delay was given during yesterday’s court hearing. A dangerousness hearing is to determine whether a defendant should be granted bail or is considered too much of a danger to society or the victim to be released pending trial.
According to local police, the incident was the result of a 10-year-long feud between the two men which began after the victim fired Russell while the suspect was painting his house. Over the years, the two would exchange harsh words when running into each other.
Around 6 p.m. Saturday, Russell stepped into the bar to grab a beer where he spotted the victim and his wife. An argument between the two didn’t take long to start and eventually spilled outside onto the State Street sidewalk where the two men, roughly the same age, began wrestling frantically on the ground. During the physical confrontation, Russell bit his victim several times in quick succession, turning the pavement near the wrestling match bloody.
Police officers Joshua Tierney was the first to arrive at the scene followed by officer Shawn Eaton, but by that time, Russell had fled down Prince Place. Tierney, along with Eaton and Sgt. Howard Adams, visited Russell’s Merrimac Street apartment. Hearing Russell move about his apartment, police made many attempts to coax him out. When those attempts failed, police conducted a forced entry and arrested him without incident.
It was after being read his Miranda rights that Russell admitted to police that he wanted to bite the eye out of his victim knowing he couldn’t win a fight with him, according to court records.
City Marshal Thomas Howard said it is unknown whether Russell or the victim were drunk but Russell admitted to police he had been drinking earlier that day.
However, the victim’s wife said Tuesday that neither she nor her husband were drunk at the time of the incident.