A Dance, a Brawl, a Bite, Two Stories

Published: 11 May 2006

A 23-year-old bride-to-be who had part of her right ear bitten off during a bar fight early Sunday wasn’t the true victim in the brawl, a Topeka attorney claims.

But the upcoming bride, Megan Millard, said Topeka police definitely got the right woman when they arrested Diane Donnelly, 46, of Topeka, after the fight and booked her into the Shawnee County Jail in connection with aggravated battery.

“It’s pretty simple: It was her and me, and she has an ear and I don’t,” said Millard, a recent Washburn University graduate whose wedding is scheduled for Saturday.

According to a Topeka police report, the fight occurred at about 12:45 a.m. Sunday at Jul’s Cocktail Club, 4117 S.W. Huntoon. Police listed Millard as the victim of aggravated battery and said the fight occurred after a drink was spilled on Donnelly. A piece of the lower portion of Millard’s right ear was recovered at the scene with an earring still attached to it, police said.

But Donnelly’s attorney, Chris Joseph, of Topeka, issued a statement Tuesday saying a woman who was dancing on the bar — apparently Millard — spilled a drink on Donnelly and her husband, then punched Donnelly and threw her to the ground after the two women exchanged words. Joseph said some of Millard’s friends piled on, knocking out one of Donnelly’s front teeth and badly bruising her.

“Based on what I’ve seen, Mrs. Donnelly looks like the victim,” Joseph said.

Joseph said there was no evidence proving Donnelly mauled Millard’s ear.

“It sounds like it was a wrestling match with a pile of people on the floor,” he said. “What happened to the woman’s ear is a question that I don’t have the answer to. I don’t think anyone can honestly say they are sure what happened in the chaos.”

Joseph said Wednesday he hadn’t seen investigative reports or accounts from witnesses. Police spokeswoman Kristi Pankratz said officers have turned over their investigation to Shawnee County District Attorney Robert Hecht, who was reviewing the case Wednesday.

Millard, who had gone to the bar with friends for her bachelorette party, gave the following account of the fight during a telephone interview Wednesday:

Urged on by the club’s D.J., Millard and her friends were dancing on the bar when Donnelly, who was sitting by the bar, accused Millard of spilling a drink on her. Millard said Donnelly yanked her from the bar by her ankles, then threw her to the floor and bit her ear as she struggled to get away.

Millard said she didn’t know why Donnelly attacked her. She said she had thrown away her drink before she got onto the bar.

“I guess she just doesn’t like to see a pretty girl having fun or something,” Millard said.

Millard denied Joseph’s claim that her friends attacked Donnelly. She said two of her friends came to her aid, but only to pull Donnelly off of her.

Joseph said parts of Millard’s story don’t make sense.

“I don’t know why anybody would pull her off the bar by the ankles for no reason,” he said.

Joseph described Donnelly as a longtime Topeka resident and former Topeka Police Department employee. He said she and her husband had gone to the bar with friends to celebrate their 18th wedding anniversary.

Joseph said he issued the statement to urge the community not to rush to judgment and to bring Donnelly’s side of the story to Hecht’s attention. Joseph said he also planned to contact Hecht’s office directly to discuss the incident.

“The family is being taunted by people who are assuming she did this and did this maliciously,” he said.

Donnelly was released from jail on Monday morning after posting bond.

Millard, a recent Washburn University graduate, said she planned to go ahead with her wedding but would have to change the hairstyle she had hoped to wear and adjust her photo plans to hide her injury.

Ric Anderson can be reached at (785) 295-1282 or [email protected].

© Copyright 2006 CJOnline / The Topeka Capital-Journal / Morris Communications

By Ric Anderson

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