A Massachusetts man faced a judge Tuesday after police said he assaulted and bit a store clerk's face late Monday night in Taunton.
Joel Davila, 19, of Taunton, was arraigned in Taunton District Court on charges of assault with intent to maim and mayhem. Not guilty pleas were entered on his behalf.
During his arraignment, Davila smiled at family members in the courtroom while prosecutors detailed what happened at the Sunoco on Broadway at about 11:30 p.m. Monday.
When officers had arrived to the scene, a 55-year-old male clerk was suffering with a serious gash below his left eye and was bleeding profusely.
The Taunton man was taken to a Boston area hospital for treatment with injuries that are serious but not believed to be life-threatening.
Police said officers located Davila sitting on the floor on his knees in an aisle of the store, covered in blood, and detained him.
According to court documents, one witness stated Davila, "sat down in the aisle next to the puddle of blood and started rubbing his fingers in it."
While reviewing store surveillance, officers said they found that the clerk had tried to stop Davila from stealing a drink from a cooler. When the clerk put his arm across the cooler door to prevent Davila from opening it, Davila allegedly bit the inside of the clerk's elbow and then bit the clerk's face during a struggle.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
"He spit the piece out on the floor," said witness Michael Keegan. "And then he said, 'I don't eat flesh, I drink blood.'"
Keegan said he prevented Davila from running off.
"I told him he wasn't going anywhere, and he hissed at me like a feral cat," he said.
Davila then began playing with the pool of blood, Keegan said.
"He had played finger-paints in it, and he licked it and put it all over his face," Keegan said. "And I was just like, 'Wow.'
Davila was taken to an area hospital for overnight evaluation before being arrested Tuesday morning.
One witness at the store called 911 and helped the clerk while another witness stopped Davila from leaving.
During his arraignment, a court psychologist testified that Davila has been taking anti-psychotics and believes he has Schizophrenia.
"All in all, his background is notable for very much adversity in his developmental years... and emergent psychosis," said the psychologist.
While leaving court, Davila's grandmother would not elaborate on his condition but apologized for his actions.
"I do apologize and I hope he recovers soon," Davila's grandmother said of the victim.
Davila was ordered held pending a mental health evaluation. It's unclear when he's due back in court.