Opening statements begin for man accused of knowingly spreading HIV

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CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. - Opening statements got under way Tuesday in the case of a man accused of knowingly exposing women to HIV.

Craig Lamar Davis, who police called a pastor, faces two counts of reckless HIV, a felony under Georgia law punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Davis is denying the accusations against him.

Davis, who lives in south Fulton, was arrested in July 2012 by Atlanta police. A Union City woman told authorities that Davis had sex with her four times before telling her he was infected with HIV, according to the initial report filed with Clayton police. The incidents were alleged to have taken place at a home in Clayton between May and June of 2012.

In his defense Davis says it is not certain that was HIV positive at the time he is accused of having sex with the woman who bought the charges. He denies having sex with the woman. He faces similiar charges in Fulton County.

The state said it will bring in doctors who treated and diagnosed him with HIV in 2005 - seven years before his encounter with the the woman - and prescribed retroviral drugs and repeatedly not to have unprotected sex. It will also call the 38-year-old woman who is alleged to have had sex with Davis but was never told by him that he had the virus. Instead, he told her that an ex-girlfriend had tested positive and declined to get tested after the victim begged him to find out his status.

“(The victim’s) going to tell you she was panicked, shocked, angered, fearful upset and that she begged the defendant, somebody she had trusted,…to get tested yourself,” Clayton County Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Kathryn Powers said. When the defendent declined to get tested, the woman went to Clayton County Police.

Defense attorney John Turner told the jury not to be swayed by the state’s dramatic opening. Stick to the facts and the fact is, Turner said "there is no definitive test - scientific or medical for (the detection) of HIV. No such thing.”

Bolstering Turner’s assertions is the Los Angeles-based Office of Medical and Scientific Justice, which has flown in experts at its own expense to help defend Davis. One of the experts developed the initial HIV test and has numerous patents for other diagnostic tests, Turner said.

“You might say ‘well, he said he’s HIV-positive,” Turner said. “He said what the doctor’s told him. They made an assumption based on antigens in his blood. Scientifically they will not be able to prove He’s HIV.”

Nor will they be able to prove he and the alleged victim ever had vaginal or oral sex, Turner said.

“They’re not going to be able to provide pictures or witnesses (to show) that they had sex.” Turner said. Whatever evidence that is presented is “going to show them the woman is a nut case.”.

“What she did is turn his life into a living hell,” Turner said, noting that the woman “paid a blogger to put all kinds of lie about him on the internet,” including that he was a minister - which caused the case to draw national attention.

“He was never a minister,” Turner said. “Evidence will show hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

Davis also faces similar charges in Fulton County involving a different woman.