Man accused of biting off wife’s lip fails to show up in court

A South San Francisco man accused of biting off his wife’s lip because she called him short faces a $1 million warrant for his arrest after failing to show up for court Tuesday.

San Mateo Superior Court Judge John Runde said he would issue the warrant if 54-year-old Akano Nzerem failed to provide an explanation for his absence by Thursday. Nzerem’s attorney, Public Defender Eric Hove, told the judge he had not heard from his client, who is out of custody on $500,000 bail. He speculated that Nzerem, who has suffered two strokes in the past, might have experienced a medical problem that interfered with his showing up.

On the same day, prosecutors had put a plea deal on the table for Nzerem, Deputy District Attorney Ivan Nightengale confirmed.

Nzerem faces a possible life sentence if convicted on the slew of charges he faces, including corporal injury on a spouse, infliction of great bodily injury, aggravated mayhem, battery, terrorist threats, false imprisonment and child endangerment.

Prosecutors allege that on Jan. 24, Nzerem attacked his wife of 17 years and mother of his six children after the woman told a friend he was acting strangely. Nzerem allegedly punched his wife repeatedly and threw a bottle at her before throwing his 16-year-old daughter aside when she tried to intervene.

Then, prosecutors say, Nzerem grabbed his wife in a bear hug and bit off part of her lip. Police recovered the lip, but doctors were unable to reattach it. The Nigerian immigrant reportedly told investigators he had to bite his wife’s lip off because she called him a short man and attacked him.

tbarak@examiner.com

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