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Former Wagner man sentenced for biting off girlfriend's nose

John Abdo, formerly of Wagner, walks out of the Charles Mix County Courthouse after being sentenced for biting off his girlfriend’s nose and escape back in 2016. (Matt Gade / Republic)

LAKE ANDES — A man who bit off his girlfriend's nose, an act described as "unforgivable" by a judge, has been sentenced to seven years in the state penitentiary.

John Abdo, 30, formerly of Wagner, was sentenced Monday for charges of aggravated assault and escape during a hearing at the Charles Mix County Courthouse. The charges stem from Jan. 7, 2016, when Abdo "bit the nose off" his girlfriend, court documents state. Judge Bruce Anderson sentenced Abdo to 15 years for the crime, but suspended eight.

Abdo was also sentenced to five years for escape, with four-and-a-half of these years suspended by Judge Anderson. The escape charges come after Abdo failed to return to jail following a job interview on Feb. 17, 2016, in which he was released on furlough from the Charles Mix County Jail. He was found and arrested on June 10, 2016, according to Deputy Charles Mix County State's Attorney Scott Podhradsky.

Podhradsky described the harm caused to the victim's body as "horrific." Along with the victim's nose bitten off, Podhradsky said the doctor described the countless bite wounds to her torso, arms, legs and face more like "gnawing" than a bite.

A jury found Abdo guilty of the aggravated assault during a two-day trial on Feb. 13 and 14. It was during this trial in which the 22-year-old victim testified. It was revealed during Monday's sentencing that woman whose nose was bitten wrote a letter to the judge asking him not to prosecute and she'd like to dismiss all charges.

Judge Anderson said he would take the victim's letter with "grain of salt" just before issuing his sentences.

The sentences will be served consecutively and Abdo will be credited for 384 days previously served in jail. The credit will be issued to the aggravated assault sentence and none for the escape, the judge said.

Abdo briefly addressed the court while wearing shackles and an orange jumpsuit stating he's "just ready to get it over with." Abdo maintains his innocence and he and his attorney, Keith Goehring, plan to file an appeal.

During the hearing, an email from the South Dakota Department of Corrections was added to the record noting Abdo's previous time incarcerated. He was released six separate times, and each of these times, he violated parole.

Judge Anderson took the email in consideration, stating that any probation wouldn't be fruitful.

"It takes a while for people to be squared away. You're not squared away," Judge Anderson said to Abdo. " ... These are unforgivable, but not something that we can't work past."

Anderson told Abdo to think about what kind of role model he'd like to be, and praised his writing abilities. Abdo created a website, in which he writes blog posts and sharing his passion for his Native American culture. His attorney shared snippets of his post during the sentencing.

"I can tell a couple of things from John. He likes to write and he's very proud of his heritage," Goehring said. "He is sincere in trying to be helpful to the Native American people."