Foster’s ac­cuser tes­ti­fies she lied about beat­ing

The Mercury News Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Robert Sa­longa and Cam In­man Staff writ­ers

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,

En­nis said.

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.

LIPO CHING – STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

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

En­nis

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