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John Wayne and Lorena Bobbitt Trials: 1993 & 1994

Lorena Bobbitt's Trial Begins

The trial of Lorena Bobbitt on the felony charge of maliciously wounding her husband opened January 10, 1994. Autographed John Bobbitt T-shirts were selling for $25, all proceeds going to the defense fund. A restaurant offered a Bobbitt Special—a hot dog with French "cut" fries. Downtown Manassas was a mass of eager spectators and throbbing diesels powering satellite trucks.

Seven women and five men occupied the jury box. Prosecutor Ebert's opening statement asserted that, temperamental and demanding, Lorena Bobbitt had acted out of pique.

Defense Attorney Lisa B. Kemler described her client as "a battered woman in the classic sense" who acted in self-defense out of "irresistible impulse," and who was suffering from mental disorders. "What we have," said Kemler, "is Lorena Bobbitt's life juxtaposed against John Wayne Bobbitt's penis. In her mind, it was his penis from which she could not escape. At the end of this case, you will come to one conclusion. And that is that a life is more valuable than a penis."

On the stand, Bobbitt denied he had raped his wife just before the attack. She, he said, had tried to initiate sex when he returned from drinking with a friend, but he was triedtoo tired toinitiateand fell asleep. whenThen, hereturnedhe testified, from"I was bleeding. I hurt real bad. I thought she just, you know, grabbed me, just pulled it out of my body."

Defense witnesses testified to John's boasting that he enjoyed brutal sex with women, repeatedly hit his wife, pulled her hair, and threw her against the wall.

Lorena's defense traced the disintegration of the Bobbitts's marriage, the increasing violence, and John Bobbitt's use of what she called "Marine Corps torture techniques," which included twisting her leg so severely that she was hospitalized. She finally acted, said James Lose, one of her defense lawyers, on "irresistible impulse," a form of temporary insanity.

In cross-examination, Lorena testified that she did not remember severing John's penis. Only when she found it in her hand while driving away, she said, did she realize what she had done. But Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Mary Grace O'Brien retorted by quoting Lorena's police statement. "He always have orgasm and he doesn't wait for me to have orgasm," it said. "He's selfish. I don't think it's fair, so I pulled back the sheets then and I did it."

Attorney O'Brien then asked Lorena, "You're saying under oath that you don't remember cutting him?"

"No," said Lorena. "That's what I assumed happened."

A defense psychiatrist testified that Lorena suffered a "brief reactive Psychosis" under which she attacked "the instrument that was the weapon of her torture." A prosecution psychiatrist rebutted by declaring, "she had a choice to make. She chose to amputate that penis, and as such we do not have an irresistible impulse but an impulse she did not resist."

After six hours of deliberation, the jury concluded that Lorena Bobbitt was temporarily insane when she cut off her husband's penis. It found her not guilty on all criminal charges. Said a male member of the jury, "We didn't believe John Bobbitt."

Under state law, Lorena underwent five weeks of psychiatric examination in a mental hospital and was released.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994John Wayne and Lorena Bobbitt Trials: 1993 1994 - Lorena Bobbitt Is Charged, John Bobbitt Tried For Malicious Assault, Lorena Bobbitt's Trial Begins