A woman's lower lip was nearly bitten off by one of her attackers.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- More than three years after they brawled in the street because of a fight among their children, three women were in court Thursday for closure.
"This is a terrible way to learn a lesson," Judge Robert Lisotto of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court told the women.
Chaletta Ferguson of Atkinson Avenue was beaten and bitten by a mother and daughter who lived just up the street. The mother, 53-year-old Deloris Hall, nearly bit off Ferguson's lower lip during the fight, said Assistant Prosecutor Robert Andrews.
Guilty pleas: Hall pleaded guilty Thursday to aggravated assault and was placed on probation for six months.
Her daughter, Monique Hall, 27, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of assault and was also given six months' probation.
Judge Lisotto said he can't understand how the women could stand before him and talk rationally about the fight that started it all in March 1998, but were unable then to resolve their problems without hurting each other.
"It's a shame," he said. "It's embarrassing and it's belittling."
How it began: Andrews said the trouble started when Ferguson's children got into an argument with Monique Hall's children outside. Ferguson and Deloris Hall began to argue and eventually came to blows, both falling to the ground.
Monique Hall then grabbed Ferguson from behind and held her while her mother punched and bit Ferguson, Andrews said.
"This was a nonsensical thing," said Atty. John P. Laczko, who represents Deloris Hall. "It never should have happened."
He said Deloris is a "law-abiding, church-going woman" who has had no other trouble with the law.
Likewise, said Atty. Louis DeFabio, who represents Monique Hall, his client has never been in any other trouble.
Still with them: "This entire incident lasted less than three minutes," DeFabio said. "But here we are 31/2 years later and everybody is still carrying around a lot of grief and pain over what happened."
Ferguson said she still has problems with her mouth because she is indigent and has no insurance, so could not afford surgery that was necessary to repair it.
She also lives with anger and confusion that have built up inside her since then.
"For the life of me, I don't understand how something cannibalistic like this could have happened," she said. "I'm glad this is finally coming to some type of closure."