Foster’s accuser testifies she lied about beating
SAN JOSE » In emotional and dramatic testimony Thursday, the former girlfriend of San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster said she fabricated allegations that he beat her and claimed her domestic violence complaint against him was simply an extortion ploy that got out of control.
But Elissa Ennis denied that Foster or anyone else paid her to recant her initial accusations, which threaten to derail Foster’s budding pro football career.
“I was pissed and I wanted to end him” because he broke up with her,
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Nona Klippen announced at the end of the five-hour hearing that she would delay by a week her decision on whether to send the case to trial. The next court date is set for Wednesday.
“I didn’t get the impression she was trying to help Foster,” said Steven Clark, a criminal- defense attorney and prosecutor who watched the testimony from the courtroom gallery and found Ennis’ testimony credible. “It looked like raw emotion displayed from someone feeling very guilty and upset about what she did to Mr. Foster.”
Foster pleaded not guilty May 8 to charges of felony domestic violence, forcefully attempting to dissuade a witness and possession of an assault weapon. He invoked his right to a speedy trial, so if Klippen validates the charges, it would have to start no later than July 9.
Ennis testifed that she threatened to mess up Foster’s career after he broke up with her and that she called 911 with a false report of violence because “I wanted him to go down.”
Under quest ioning from Foster’s attorney Joshua Bentley, Ennis also said that she attempted to get a previous boyfriend arrested for domestic violence in 2011 in a similar scheme.
“You knew in this case when Reuben Foster broke up with you, you were going to go to your playbook and ruin his career,” Bentley said. “Isn’t that true?” “Yes, sir,” Ennis said. Court officials in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, confirmed to this news organization Thursday that Ennis was arrested on suspicion of two counts of aggravated assault on Nov. 4, 2011, but the charges were dismissed two years later. There is no official record of any false report of domestic violence.
Ennis often struggled to recall events, particularly the night before Foster’s Feb. 11 arrest, when she said got into a fight with two women in San Francisco and suffered the injuries that she initially blamed on Foster.
She repeatedly said she couldn’t fully remember what she told police in her original statement, which ultimately led to the criminal charges against Foster.
In her initial account, Ennis told Los GatosMonte Sereno police that Foster dragged her, threw her clothes out and “punched her in the head 8 to 10 times,” rupturing her eardrum, according to a police report.
The morning of the alleged beating, Ennis flagged down a passing motorist outside the Los Gatos home on Shannon Road she shared with Foster. Themotorist, Eugenio Pirir, testified Thursday that Ennis was calm and “she wasn’t panicking” when she asked to use his cellphone.
Ennis also testified that after Foster’s arrest, she went home to Louisiana with Foster’s jewelry and about $8,000 in cash.
When asked by prosecutor Kevin Smith if she still loves Foster, Ennis replied, “I don’t love him, I need help for myself.” Then she said she planned to check herself into an unspecified clinic.
Asked by Smith why she is risking perjury to exonerate Foster, Ennis said: “I had to do the right thing.” Ennis’ attorney, Stephanie Rickard, stated in court Thursday that she advised her client against testifying.
Of the purported lies against Foster, Ennis said, “It was all a money scheme. I didn’t want to get this far in the news. It was about money … I wanted to sue him on my own.”
During the hearing, 911 calls were played, including one with Ennis frantic and another with her calm and deliberate, stating, “My boyfriend broke my phone … my boyfriend, he beat me up.”
Bentley asked her directly, “Did Mr. Foster ever hit you?”
Ennis replied “No sir,” then broke down in tears. “I’m sorry. I really am. I apologize to everybody.”
Ennis also testified that she lied about Foster throwing a dog across a room during an argument, and ac - know l - edged threatening to sell photos of Foster to TMZ showing him returning a Corvette he bought for her to drive. After nearly two hours of testimony, Ennis left the courtroom in tears with her attorney and did not speak to reporters.
Ennis also pointed to an Instagram video she says depicts the fight she had with another woman in an apparent road-rage encounter in San Francisco.
It became the subject of a proxy fight between Smith and Bentley, who questioned Los GatosMonte Sereno Detective Jim Wiens about his response to Ennis’ claim two days after the arrest that she had lied.
Bentley questioned the thoroughness of Wiens’ follow-up on that alleged fight, pointing to the video, conversations with Ennis, Ennis’ mother — whom Ennis told about the purported fight — and a search for any arrests in San Francisco. Wiens testified he was hampered by the absence of a precise location.
Smith’s questioning of Wiens included the DA’s contention that there is nothing in the video to definitively prove when and where it happened. But Bentley, in a further” questioning of the O detective, implied a lack of diligence by Wiens in not asking the doctors who examined Ennis about when the injuries occurred and if there was a plausible cause for them other than Foster.
Smith, in his closing statements, argued that the most reliable account Ennis gave was when she called for help. He pointed out shifting facts in her new account including where she was the previous night — involving a hairdresser she couldn’t name and an unspecified East Bay city — and a hazy account of the brawl and lack of corresponding injuries.
“There were very consistent statements she told to Officer ( Katrina) Freeman, to her mother, her brother, medical staff and 911,” Smith said.
Bentley suggested to Klippen that the case doesn’t meet the alreadylow burden of proof required at preliminary hearings, based on “evidence that calls into question Ms. Ennis’ claims” at the heart of the charges against Foster. He also objected to the “consistent” statements cited by Smith.
“It was all consistent because she lied,” Bentley said. “She was after my guy.”
Clark said it is unlikely that prosecutors would pursue perjury or false-report charges against Ennis because of the chilling effect that could have on domestic-violence victims who fear they won’t be believed by authorities.
Regarding a related felony weapon charge, based on a SIG Sauer 516 short-barreled rifle seized from Foster’s home the morning of his arrest, Wiens affirmed that Foster legally purchased the weapon in Alabama, where Foster played college football. The rifle is illegal to have under California law, but Bentley sought a misdemeanor charge.
Foster remains free on $75,000 bail. The 49ers have said they will cut him if it’s proven he hit Ennis, and he still could face at least a six-week NFL suspension based on its domestic-violence policy.
San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster, right, and his attorney Joshua Bentley, left, walk to the Santa Clara Hall of Justice for Foster’s preliminary domestic violence hearing