Minot man pleads guilty for biting off co-worker’s ear

A 53-year-old Minot man pleaded guilty to biting off another man’s ear during a fight at Minot Lumber on Sept. 2, 2015.

Gary Eiland was sentenced Monday in district court in Minot to time served of two days and three years of supervised probation. He was also ordered to pay $2,955.73 in restitution and $1,100 in court costs.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed with the court, Eiland and the other man, David Shoats, were fighting over where to place store merchandise and Eiland bit off 80 percent of the other man’s ear. Though the detached ear was found, doctors were not able to reattach the body part.

No charge was filed against Eiland until a year after the incident took place.

Eiland told Judge Richard Hagar that he accepts responsibility for the crime but he was acting in self defense.

“I was assaulted by David Shoats,” he explained, saying that he did not start the altercation with his former friend and co-worker. “He’s younger, faster, stronger … he won the altercation in a couple of punches.”

Eiland said Shoats continued the fight and Eiland was afraid that his head would be banged on the concrete and he would lose consciousness.

“I just acted on instinct, out of fear for my safety,” said Eiland, when he bit Shoats’ ear.

Eiland also disputes that Shoats lost 80 percent of his ear. Eiland said he saw photographs and it looks like Shoats lost about 30 percent of his ear in the fight.

“I understand the seriousness of the injury I caused,” said Eiland, who did not dispute that he is guilty of aggravated assault.

Eiland said he is a U.S. Air Force veteran who has lived in the community for 29 years and has children and grandchildren. He said he has no prior record of violence and only wants to live peacefully.

Shoats was not present in the courtroom. Ward County Assistant State’s Attorney Marie Miller said Shoats has been kept informed of what has happened with the case.

Hagar thanked Eiland for wearing a suit to the hearing. He said he wishes he could get the lawyers who appear in his court to dress that well all the time. Hagar then said he understood how the incident could have happened and wished Eiland luck.

Eiland is barred from contact with Shoats during the three years he will be on probation.