PITTSFIELD -- A city man has received an 18 month jail sentence after being found guilty of nearly biting off his roommate's thumb during an altercation over bathroom etiquette.
Michael Mensah, 57, who is originally from Ghana, was convicted of assault and battery causing serious bodily injury following a one-day trial in Central Berkshire District Court's Jury of Six session. He was acquitted of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon.
According to Pittsfield Police, officers responded to a Summer Street residence on the afternoon of Feb. 11 in response to a report of a domestic incident. They were greeted at the door by a naked man with part of his thumb hanging by a tendon. Mensah, the man's roommate, was found in his room lying on his bed complaining of pain to his back, neck and head.
Police said the bathroom showed signs of a "bloody fight" and both men were taken to Berkshire Medical Center for their injuries.
At trial, Stephen Quam, 61, testified that part of his right thumb had to be removed after Mensah bit down on it as the men struggled in the apartment's bathroom. The fight began after Quam, who is also from Ghana, entered the bathroom to shave his head while Mensah was using the toilet.
Quam said doctors told him the thumb could not be reattached because it had been bitten off.
Mensah told the jury Quam had been the aggressor, choking and punching him and that he bit the man's thumb to get him to stop.
Quam denied hitting Mensah.
On Tuesday, Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Dana Parsons asked the court to sentence Mensah to two years in jail. She said Quam had suffered a permanent disfiguring injury.
Mensah's attorney, Thomas C. Doyle, said what happened in the bathroom that day was a tragedy for everyone.
Charles Hutchinson, Mensah's former employer, and Pascal Mensah, the defendant's son, spoke on behalf of the defendant who was described as quiet, dignified and well liked.
Doyle asked for an 11 month jail sentence.
Judge Matthew J. Shea sentenced Mensah to 18 months at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction.
Mensah was given credit for the more than five months he has been held in jail. He has been held on a detainer by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement since his arrest in February and will likely end up in federal custody following his sentence here.