By Jeff Lehr
Buddy Danley testified Thursday that Richard “Dickey” Clemmons chewed off a portion of his left ear during a fight a year ago at the chat piles west of Joplin known as Snowball.
The decimation of Danley’s ear was plain enough to see as he sat on the witness stand in Jasper County Circuit Court. Just how the notch had been taken out of the top of the ear remained somewhat less obvious by the end of Clemmons’ preliminary hearing on a felony assault charge.
Associate Judge Richard Copeland was perplexed enough by the respective testimonies of Danley and Clemmons to inform the attorneys involved that he was taking the case under advisement and would let them know what his ruling is at some later time.
Danley told the court that on the day before the tornado struck Joplin last year, he and his wife-to-be, Ashlee Frerer, went to Snowball to ride dirt bikes. As they arrived, he spotted a friend there, Johnny Hinds. But before they could even talk to Hinds, he said, several people emerged from behind some bushes, including Clemmons, 46, who was demanding to know: “Where’s Freddy Rickey?”
Danley said the woman told Clemmons: “That’s my dad. He’s not here.”
Danley said Clemmons then “started getting in her face” and shoved her. He said that in an effort to protect Frerer and pull Clemmons off her, he put the defendant in a headlock. Clemmons squirmed out of it enough that he was able to bite off a chunk of his ear, Danley told the court.
On cross-examination by Clemmons’ attorney, R. Deryl Edwards, Danley said he believes Clemmons’ son was in some sort of altercation with his friend, Hinds, before he and Frerer arrival at Snowball.
“Who struck the first blow — you or him?” Edwards asked him.
“I didn’t throw any punches, sir,” Danley replied.
He said he was kicked in the head by someone after Clemmons bit his ear, but he did not know who kicked him.
Edwards called his client to the witness stand in his own defense, and he had a different account of the fight. Clemmons told the judge that Frerer was screaming at his son.
“Did you push her?” Edwards asked.
“I never touched the lady,” he said.
Clemmons said he asked her to back off his son a couple of times. But then he got “sucker punched” by Danley, he said. After the punch, he and Danley went to the ground together, and Frerer began kicking him in the head with her dirt bike boots, he told the judge. He said others joined in, with three or four people kicking him at once.
Clemmons had pictures of his injuries and showed them to the judge. He said he had to ride his four-wheeler home that night with his right eye swollen shut.
He denied that he bit off a chunk of Danley’s ear and suggested that the injury may have come from having been accidentally kicked by Frerer.
THE SON OF Richard “Dickey” Clemmons had been charged along with his father with a felony assault on Buddy Danley. The charge against the younger Clemmons was dropped by the Jasper County prosecutor’s office before the father’s hearing Thursday because of a lack of evidence.