BOSTON, May 22, 2014—A man convicted of biting off and swallowing part of another man’s lip and violating his civil rights faces upwards of 35 years in prison when he is sentenced as a habitual offender next week, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said today.
On March 31, a Suffolk Superior Court jury convicted ROBERT O’CONNOR (D.O.B. 11/21/67) of South Boston of mayhem, a civil rights violation with injuries, and two counts of assault and battery in connection with a 2012 bar fight that left the victim permanently disfigured.
The trial jury, however, was not allowed to hear of O’Connor’s 11-page criminal record, which included numerous convictions and state prison sentences for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, breaking and entering, larceny, firearm charges, and other offenses, so a new jury was seated to determine whether he was the same defendant convicted of those and other offenses. Such a finding would open O’Connor to harsher penalties under the state’s habitual offender statute.
“Since 1985, this defendant has been unable to go more than four years without being arrested for one crime or another unless he was in prison,” Conley said. “He is precisely the sort of person for whom the habitual offender statute was created.”
After deliberating only 25 minutes, that second jury adjudicated O’Connor an habitual offender, exposing him to a mandatory maximum sentence for the convicted offenses when he is sentenced next week. The most serious offense of mayhem carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Assistant District Attorney David Bradley of the DA’s Senior Trial Unit presented evidence and testimony during the March trial to prove that on Aug. 5, 2012, O’Connor entered Croke Park bar in South Boston, where he attempted to pick a fight with the victim by calling the man a racial slur as the two played pool.
O’Connor then began pushing a bar employee before pulling out a knife and holding it to the man’s leg, prosecutors sought to prove. The employee convinced O’Connor to put the knife away, but O’Connor continued to push and grab him. Using a pool stick, the employee attempted to get O’Connor out of the bar. A physical struggle ensued, during which the employee, assisted by the victim and a second employee, got O’Connor out of the bar.
Once outside, O’Connor again called the victim a racial slur and the two agreed to cross the street in order to fight. During the fight, O’Connor grabbed the victim’s head, leaned in, and bit and ripped off a large portion of the victim’s lip. The evidence showed that O’Connor then swallowed it.
As responding Boston Police interviewed the bar employee, O’Connor emerged from an alleyway across the street from the bar and attempted to run from officers. He was apprehended after a brief pursuit and was found to have blood on his clothing and facial injuries consistent with having recently been in a fight. Neither the knife allegedly used in the assault on the bar employee nor the victim’s lip were recovered.
O’Connor is represented by attorney Albert Cullen. He will return to court at 2:00 p.m. next Wednesday for sentencing before Judge Patrick Brady in courtroom 815 of Suffolk Superior Court.
All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.