Amid a week of non-stop national news about domestic violence allegations against professional football players, a York County jury Thursday found a Rock Hill man not guilty of allegations that he held his former girlfriend against her will and hit her.
Jurors deliberated less than 20 minutes before coming back with the verdict in the trial of Antonio Davis, 31.
As he did in his opening statement Davis’ lawyer, assistant public defender Phil Smith, brought up in closing arguments that America has been flooded with coverage of recent domestic violence allegations. At least four NFL players stand accused or convicted of violence against women and children, and the league’s sponsors are demanding action to curb the violence.
“This has been a difficult week for domestic violence defendants,” Smith told jurors. “It has been a tough week. You have to deal with all this other outside stuff you are subjected to.
“You cannot get caught up in some heightened fear of what has gone on this week.”
Allegations against Davis from March 2013 were “fiction,” Smith argued, and the alleged victim “over and over and over and over and over and over” recanted her initial claim of having being beaten and held against her will, Smith told jurors.
Prosecutors had argued that the victim changed her story because of coercion from Davis, but jurors found Davis not guilty.
Neither Smith nor prosecutors would comment afterward.
Davis, who has prior convictions for domestic violence and other crimes, did not go free after the verdict. He was taken to the York County Detention Center because he faces several other charges in other cases.
Those charges include a June 2013 domestic violence allegation by the same victim. Assistant solicitor Jenny Desch asked the judge that, despite Thursday’s not guilty verdict, Davis not be granted bond.
The judge agreed, because Davis had a previous bench warrant against him for failing to show up for court.
The pending domestic violence case has not been set for trial.