A Lawrence mother took the stand Thursday in Douglas County District Court, describing a harrowing fight for her life after waking up to her 15-year-old son brutally attacking her with a baseball bat.
“It was horror,” the woman testified about the events on the night of June 15 and the early morning hours of June 16. “I had feared that I would be attacked in this manner. I knew that if his dad was with him I couldn’t fight them both.”
The victim was the first witness to take the stand during a preliminary hearing Thursday afternoon for her ex-husband, Arthur Davis III.
Davis is facing charges of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping and contributing to a child’s misconduct in connection with the incident. The couple’s 15-year-old son is also charged with attempted first-degree murder and their 12-year-old daughter faces conspiracy charges for her alleged role in the attack.
The victim, who was home with her daughter, had locked the house in the 1100 block of Hilltop Drive and gone to bed. She said she awoke to her son repeatedly hitting her in the head with a baseball bat.
“I considered any blow to the head to be possibly fatal,” she said.
The woman said at one point she was able to get the bat away from her son, but he then grabbed a candle in a glass jar and struck her multiple times on the head with it.
The woman testified she yelled for her daughter to call 911, saying she didn’t want to die, but at the same time the boy was telling his sister not to call 911 because he didn’t want to go to jail.
The victim was eventually able to escape into the bathroom with the phone, where she called 911 for help. Prosecutors played a tape of the 911 call for the judge.
The woman testified that while she was on the phone with dispatchers, her ex-husband broke down the bathroom door, grabbed her and dragged her out into the hallway, where she said her son continued to hit her in the head with the bat.
“Hit her, harder, harder, harder,” Davis can be heard yelling on the 911 call, directing his son to beat his mom with the bat while holding her by the arms, according to testimony.
The woman was finally able to flee the house, but only after ducking out of the shirt her ex-husband had a hold of and running down the street wearing only her underwear, while she said her son, armed with the bat, continued to chase her.
A police officer arrived on the scene, and he called for an ambulance to transport the victim to the hospital. She was treated at Lawrence Memorial Hospital for multiple cuts to her head, including a 3-to-4 inch laceration to her scalp that had to be stapled shut.
The woman testified she and Davis were involved in a heated child custody dispute, stemming from their 1999 divorce. She said he and the kids became upset when in 2006 she filed a motion with the court seeking roughly $20,000 she claimed Davis owed her in back child support payments.
In the summer of 2007, the woman said Davis filed a motion seeking custody. She said he was “obsessed” with having the two kids live with him and that he wanted them to not attend school, but instead earn money by working a newspaper route.
Judge Jean Shepherd then ordered a custody evaluation in June 2008 and according to the victim, the report was being finalized when this incident happened.
The woman said the doctor who completed the evaluation was going to recommend the son stay with his father, while the daughter continue to live with her. Davis had seen this report on the Friday before the incident took place.
“I knew it was something the defendant was capable of,” the woman testified. “I knew I was in the way of what he wanted.”
At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Robert Fairchild bound the defendant over for trial on all three charges, despite attempts by defense attorney Greg Robinson to pin the attack on the couple’s son.
“I’m almost speechless,” Robinson told the judge. “All this catfight that went down in the bedroom, that’s just smoke. It has nothing to do with Arthur Davis.”
Fairchild scheduled Davis’ arraignment for Sept. 18.