The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

May 6, 2013

Loss of teeth takes bite out of appeal

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

MERCER — Maybe a member of the Pagan Motorcycle Club considers the loss of a couple of teeth in a bar fight to be no big deal, but three Superior Court judges agreed with a local judge that it is.

Alan E. “Catfish” Bowen, 40, formerly of East Lackawannock Township, appealed his conviction on a charge of aggravated assault, arguing that the victim did not suffer “serious bodily injury,” a phrase used in the statute, and that the loss of two teeth “did not arise to a permanent loss or impairment of the function of a bodily organ,” a paraphrase also derived from the statute.

Bowen, a Pagan, walked into the Mustang Bar on Wilson Avenue, Mercer, on Dec. 31, 2010, came up behind a seated man, put him in a headlock and punched him in the mouth and the back of the head multiple times, according to the opinion issued by Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher J. St. John.

In addition to losing two teeth, the victim suffered a cut inside his mouth that had to be closed by stitches and an injury to the jawbone, St. John said.

A jury convicted Bowen, who was sentenced to 1è to 3 years in prison, of aggravated and simple assault, reckless endangerment and harassment.

Bowen did not appeal the jury verdict, only St. John’s denial of a post-sentence motion, arguing there was insufficient evidence to convict him of aggravated assault.

In an opinion issued Friday, Superior Court said the evidence only had to show that Bowen attempted to cause serious bodily injury to sustain a charge of aggravated assault.

The panel also said the testimony of the victim’s dentist that a tooth is considered an organ of the body and that the loss of a tooth can cause problems with occlusion and aesthetics shows that Bowen inflicted “serious, permanent disfigurement” and “protracted loss or impairment of the function of ... (an) organ.”