DANVERS — Danvers Patrolman John Melto gave at-times-tearful testimony yesterday in Salem Superior Court about his bloody scuffle with convicted Level 3 sex offender Roy Limbaugh on Popes Lane in August 2011.
It’s the first time that Melto has said in public what happened.
At 5:30 a.m. on Aug. 19, Melto was attempting to arrest Limbaugh, of 37 Popes Lane, on two traffic warrants. The department also had concerns about the lack of a work address listed on his sex offender registry form.
In the scuffle, Melto was slashed four times on the side and front of his throat and several times on his wrist and hand, and he suffered a cut on the back of his head, according to medical testimony and photographs of the injuries shown in court. No weapon has been found.
Limbaugh, who is acting as his own attorney with the help of standby counsel Joseph Collins, objected to Melto’s medical records being marked as evidence. After an out-of-earshot sidebar conference with Superior Court Judge Howard Whitehead, the judge allowed them.
Limbaugh faces seven charges related to the attack, including failing to register as a sex offender and armed assault to murder.
A vascular surgeon who operated on Melto, 49, the morning of the incident testified that the cuts to Melto’s neck barely missed his carotid artery, internal jugular vein and trachea.
“How close did those lacerations come?” Assistant District Attorney Gerald Shea asked.
“Several millimeters,” said Dr. Larry Goldberg, the trauma medical director at Salem Hospital. Melto, an 11-year patrolman, later required a second surgery on his hand to repair nerve damage and was out of work for 99 days.
Goldberg, whose testimony came before Melto’s, said the injuries appeared to have been made with some sort of weapon, and they could have led to Melto’s death.