Woman 'cut off husband's penis'

A woman accused of cutting off her estranged husband's penis has briefly appeared in court in California, hiding her face with her long hair, but her arraignment on torture and mayhem charges was postponed.

Catherine Kieu, 48, had an attorney appointed to defend her, but Judge Debra Carrillo continued the arraignment and a bail review hearing to July 22. Kieu will be held without bail until then.

Police said Kieu spiked a meal and served it to the victim shortly before the attack on Monday night. The 60-year-old man felt sick and went to lie down, then awoke tied to the bed as Kieu attacked him with a kitchen knife. Police said the woman put the penis down a garbage disposal.

"It's hard to believe what would motivate a person to do this sort of thing," the district attorney's chief of staff, Susan Kang Schroeder, said outside court. "It's one of the worst things you could do to a person short of killing him."

Police spokesman Jeff Nightengale said earlier that the victim was conscious when his penis was cut off with a 10-inch knife. He did not release the victim's name.

The lieutenant said Kieu called police to report a medical emergency and told arriving officers "he deserved it" before pointing to the room where the victim was found bleeding profusely. She was taken into custody without incident and refused to talk to officers further.

Prosecutors said Kieu argued with the victim before the attack about friends staying at their home.

The couple were married in December 2009, and the victim filed for divorce in May citing irreconcilable differences, court records show.

Kieu was charged with one felony count of torture, one felony count of aggravated mayhem and sentencing enhancements for great bodily injury and personal use of a knife. If convicted of all counts, she could face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The victim underwent surgery and was listed in good condition at University of California at Irvine Medical Centre, hospital spokesman John Murray said. The penis was reattached.