GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - For the first time, the man accused of biting off a woman's nose is speaking publicly in a jailhouse interview about his version of what happened and why.
Victim Polly Snyder and suspect Stephen Medawis agree for the most part about happened and that alcohol was the root cause.
They differ on what sparked the physical altercation, but both say they would apologize to the other if given the opportunity.
Snyder and Medawis can agree on one thing: the Jan. 9 incident happened during an alcohol-fueled fight at house party on Grand Rapids' west side.
"Her face was next to my face. She was biting all over me, too," Medawis said in an interview at the Kent County Jail.
Medawis said Snyder tried to gouge his eyes out and violently hit him.
"She was actually getting the best of me," he said.
The blows started flying, he said, because he thought she stole some money. Snyder said it was because he was inappropriately touching her.
But they both agree though on one thing: booze fueled the fight.
"I know that was the reason why it happened. If it wasn't for the alcohol it would've never happened," said Snyder.
Medawis was charged with mayhem -- the term the law uses to describe the "malicious intent to maim or disfigure, or ... cut or slit or mutilate the nose ... of any other person."
Mayhem is punishable by up to 10 years behind bars. But because of a criminal history and other charges, Medawis could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Medawis struggles with knowing he faces life behind bars.
"I can't handle a life sentence and don't want to die in prison," he said.
Snyder struggles facing her face.
"Is it ever gonna look the same like I was before?" said Snyder. "I think that's my biggest worry."
Snyder is permanently scarred from the fight. Her nose was bitten completely off and she will undergo more reconstructive surgery before her nose returns to a typical appearance.
The nose she has now was crafted by a plastic surgeon using skin painfully removed from her scalp to cover it.
"Seriously, I'm afraid to look in the mirror sometimes. 'Cause it's not me," said Snyder. "The hardest part is walking down the street and having people look at me. I've seen people swerve off the wrong side of the road just because they're looking at me as they're driving by."
But she said she won't hide in shame.
She said in the chaos of the fight, she wasn't immediately aware of what had happened.
"I didn't even know until the next day that my nose was gone," said Snyder.
Medawis says he didn't realize it was that bad.
"It was like a war to save myself."
"I feel sorry for that girl," he said. "I'm sorry it happened."
Snyder said she's sorry, too.
"Yes, I do accept his apology. And you know something? I apologize to him, too, for what had happened," said Snyder. "I know that it wasn't only his fault. It was my fault, too."
Both Snyder and Medawis admit to struggling with alcoholism and said they have a common lesson they've learned about alcohol and drinking too much of it.
Both vowed to change their ways.
"I do see this as a wakeup call," said Snyder.
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