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Palo Alto man on trial for ear-biting incident

2013 bar fight results in mayhem charge for great bodily harm

A 40-year-old Palo Alto man is currently standing trial in San Mateo County Superior Court for allegedly biting off part of another man's ear during a bar fight.

The attack is the second in which Joshua McGriff has been implicated in a biting incident. He was convicted of mayhem in 2007 for biting the face of his then-girlfriend, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.

McGriff and the victim were both patrons at the Underground Pub in Redwood City at closing time in July 2013 when the incident occurred, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office. The victim went inside to pay his bill and left his cigarettes and lighter outside. When he returned, his cigarettes and lighter were missing. He asked McGriff for a cigarette and allegedly recognized his lighter in McGriff's hand. He confronted McGriff and pushed him, and McGriff allegedly pushed back.

The victim grabbed McGriff in a bear hug, and the two struggled into a corner outside of the bar. During the struggle, McGriff allegedly bit onto the victim's ear. He took off a substantial portion of the ear and detached the back of the ear from the victim's head, requiring skin graft surgery, according to the District Attorney's office.

The victim was intoxicated and does not have a good recollection of events. McGriff said he could not breathe while being held in the bear hug, and bit the ear in self defense, according to the district attorney.

McGriff faces charges of mayhem, with an enhancement of causing great bodily harm; assault with a deadly weapon, with an enhancement of causing great bodily harm; and having a prior strike conviction for a violent felony.

His trial resumes today, March 5, with the testimony of prosecution witnesses. He is out of custody on $75,000 bail.

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