A person Anchorage police said had tried to steal a bike Wednesday, leading to a fight in which the victim bit off part of his nose, was released a day later.

A judge in Anchorage Jail Court told 38-year-old Robert Russell, during what was meant to be his arraignment, that Anchorage District Attorney Rick Allen’s office was declining prosecution against him pending the case being referred to municipal prosecutor Seneca Theno. As a result, he was free to go.

Police said in a Wednesday statement that Russell had climbed atop a couple’s motorhome on East 4th Avenue near Merrill Field, trying to take a bike on top of the vehicle. When the husband emerged in response, Russell allegedly stabbed him and bit him on the arm – before the husband bit Russell’s face, “removing a large chunk of his nose.”

Anchorage District Attorney Rick Allen said Thursday afternoon that the change of jurisdiction stems from the definition of second-degree assault, the felony with which Russell was originally charged, calling for an attack to be committed with a "dangerous instrument." Allen's office generally prosecutes local felonies, while Theno's handles misdemeanors.

"The stabbing was with a key, not a knife -- it was a key to a car," Allen said. "That's not a dangerous instrument under the law; that means what we have here is a misdemeanor theft and a misdemeanor assault."

The man police say Russell had tried to rob, John Sponaugle, said his response to Russell’s attack was “survival,” and that the detached part of Russell’s nose wasn’t recovered.

Daniella Rivera contributed information to this story.

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