Penis-cutter's trial starts

MANASSAS, Virginia (Reuter) - Lorena Bobbitt goes on trial today for cutting off her husband's penis. She is charged with maliciously wounding John Wayne Bobbitt on 23 June.

She claims she severed her husband's penis with a kitchen knife because he raped her, the latest in a pattern of abuse. Surgeons later reattached Mr Bobbitt's penis, which police found in a field after Mrs Bobbitt threw it from her car as she fled their apartment. In November, Mr Bobbitt, 26, an ex-Marine and one-time night-club bouncer, was acquitted of rape in the same Prince William County Circuit Courthouse where his wife will stand trial.

Mr Bobbitt has denied he was abusive. If convicted, Mrs Bobbitt faces a maximum sentence of 20 years. Facts of the case have been well documented: Vanity Fair headlined it 'Sex, Lies and an 8- inch Carving Knife.' The two principals have made themselves available to interviewers. In one, Mr Bobbitt said his penis hurt when he showers. Doctors said he had made a good recovery but it could be a year before he knows if he can have sex again.

During the first trial, Mrs Bobbitt said that after her husband forced her to have sex, she went into the kitchen for a glass of water and saw the kitchen knife. 'I turned and saw the knife. I took it into the bedroom. I pulled the sheets off, and I cut it.'