By Kathy Jefcoats
JONESBORO — Prosecutors said Friday it’s “absurd” to believe a woman would knowingly have sex with a man who is HIV-positive but defense attorneys called the woman a liar.
“(She) lied,” said defense attorney John Turner. “She said they knew mutual acquaintances and that he pressure-washed her car. That’s a lie. If she lied about that, she could have lied about everything else.”
Turner represents Craig Lamar Davis, 43, charged with two counts of reckless conduct by an HIV-infected person. He was married and led the men’s ministry at an Atlanta church, leading some to refer to him as a pastor. Prosecutors allege Davis had unprotected physical relations with a woman at his Jonesboro home without disclosing he is HIV-positive.
Davis is also charged in Fulton County with the same charges involving a second woman. That woman testified in the state’s case and the jury is allowed to consider her account as they deliberate Davis’ fate.
Turner and co-counsel Baron Coleman of Alabama, and prosecutors Erman Tanjuatco, Katie Powers and Marcus Thorpe completed their cases by Friday and closing arguments began at 1:15 p.m. Neither woman is being identified by Clayton News Daily because they are considered victims of alleged sexual assaults.
The jury got the case after 5 p.m. Friday but returned to Judge Geronda Carter’s courtroom an hour later to say they wanted to stop deliberations and resume them Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. Court is dark Monday because of the King holiday.
Before the short deliberation, jurors heard one last time from the attorneys. Because the burden is on the state to prove the charges, Tanjuatco and Powers spoke first and last with Turner and Coleman addressing the panel in between the two.
“The defense is absurd,” said Powers, who went first. “It’s smoke and mirrors.”
Powers said the case comes down to a battle of the experts. The state presented Davis’ treating physicians, infectious disease expert Joyce Drayton of Decatur, and Courtney Shelton. Both doctors told Davis he was HIV-positive in 2004 and 2005 and prescribed HIV medications for him.
Drayton testified that Davis had full-blown AIDS in 2005 when he presented at Atlanta Medical Center with thrush and pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, known as PCP, an infection commonly found in patients with AIDS.
Drayton also testified that she counseled Davis on taking care of himself and preventing the spread of the virus to others. In fact, Davis brought another woman he had infected to Drayton’s office for treatment, the doctor testified.
Turner and Coleman brought in three experts, all considered “AIDS denialists” associated with Office of Medical and Scientific Justice. The group believes the HIV and AIDS viruses don’t exist and works to exonerate defendants accused of criminally exposing others to HIV. All three underwent a scathing cross-examination by Powers, who got them to admit they never examined or interviewed Davis and reached their conclusions based on incomplete documents provided by the defense attorneys.
One of the experts, Dr. Nancy Turner Banks, admitted she thinks AIDS is an “imaginary monster” that can be defeated if patients are emotionally balanced and drink water and eat cilantro. Banks also testified that HIV is not sexually-transmitted, a position backed by David Rasnick, who took the stand after Banks.