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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A Marine sergeant was busted to lance corporal Tuesday for biting off part of a soldier’s ear during a brawl in an Okinawa City alley last September.

A general court-martial panel found Sgt. Robert Graves, 26, assigned to Marine Air Control Squadron 4, guilty of maiming.

The felony carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and a dishonorable discharge, but the panel weighed professional and character references and reduced his rank two grades and fined him $200 a month for three months.

During the two-day court-martial, the jury heard conflicting accounts of what occurred in a dark alleyway in the Gate Two Street entertainment district the night of Sept. 1.

Testimony from Graves and other defense witnesses contend a fight broke out between two lance corporals in a bar called Good Times. Graves said he broke up the fight and separated the two junior Marines, and with his wife joined one of the lance corporals and another Marine who had wandered into a nearby alley.

Meanwhile, Army Staff Sgt. Zachary Delisi, then assigned to the 58th Signal Battalion, his wife and another couple were walking to a club when they heard a commotion in the alley and suspected a woman needed help, according to testimony.

Delisi said Graves and another Marine confronted him and a friend, Marine Sgt. David Garitano, and were told to mind their own business. They said several other men were also in the alley and a scuffle broke out.

"We fell to the ground, and he got me from behind and tried to scratch out my eye," Delisi said of Graves. "Then he got me in a headlock, and that’s when I felt I had been bit."

Graves testified there was no woman in distress, and that they were attacked from behind by Delisi, Garitano and Delisi’s wife.

"People just kept kicking my face and my nose and my eye and just kicking and kicking," he told the jury. He said his wife ran into the alley then and threw herself over him to protect him.

"I did not bite off anyone’s ear," he said.

Part of Delisi’s left ear was recovered at the scene and it was reattached. He is now a drill sergeant at Fort Jackson, S.C.

Graves was the only person charged with a court-martial offense in the incident.


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