Acquaintances of the couple recounted how John Bobbitt, a former US marine, would hit and humiliate his wife. Mrs Bobbitt, born in Ecuador, told the court in Manassas, Virginia, that her husband would pull her hair, kick and beat her, using 'marine tortures - kind of karate', and that he forced her to have sex.
The abuse, she told jurors, began almost from the moment of their wedding in 1989. A neighbour testified to hearing Mrs Bobbitt screaming shortly before she did the deed that has made her a celebrity. 'The woman was screaming, it sounded like pain, she would scream out every few seconds,' Michael Dibble said.
Her testimony, which continues tomorrow, is the centre- piece of a defence strategy aimed at portraying Mr Bobbitt as a loutish wife-beater. She must emerge as a battered wife, so traumatised by his brutal behaviour that she lost her reason. That Mrs Bobbitt, who is charged with malicious wounding, mutilated her husband is not in question. The case hinges on the defence's ability to persuade the court of her 'temporary insanity' at the time. If this fails, conviction could bring her 20 years in jail, and/or deportation.
Hence the efforts to present Mrs Bobbitt as the brutalised plaything of a near-sadist, who would boast to her of his sexual conquests. 'He said he liked to make girls squirm and bleed and yell for help,' said Jonathan Whitaker, a colleague of Mr Bobbitt. A manicurist who worked with Mrs Bobbitt told of how her husband beat her and dragged her by the hair during a beach holiday in 1990.
Mrs Bobbitt, at 5ft 2in tall, is dwarfed by her burly husband who has worked as a barman and nightclub bouncer. Throughout proceedings she has sat demure and impassive.
The contrast could not have been greater with the scenes outside the court, where spectators, reporters and vendors hawking T-shirts, chocolate penises and 'Lorena Bobbitt for Surgeon General' badges, mill around in a festival of tastelessness. At the last count, 16 television satellite trucks were lined up nearby.
But the defence faces an uphill battle. Two wrongs, as the prosecution maintains, 'do not make a right'.
LOS ANGELES - A woman accused of castrating her husband with a pair of scissors while he slept was ordered to stand trial yesterday on a charge of felony mayhem, Reuter reports.