Craig Lamar Davis at left with attorney John Turner. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)
JONESBORO — Craig Lamar Davis took the stand in his own defense Thursday and told a Clayton County jury that a woman he had sex with for a year knew he was HIV-positive.
“She knew I was HIV-positive before we stopped using condoms,” Davis said.
The woman is now HIV-positive and has a criminal case pending against Davis in Fulton County for reckless conduct by a person with HIV.
But Davis is also charged in Clayton County for a similar situation although the woman has so far tested negative for HIV. Neither woman is being identified by Clayton News Daily because they are considered victims of an alleged sexual assault.
Davis, 43, didn’t deny knowing he has been HIV-positive since 2004 but said Thursday he never had intimate relations with the second woman at his Jonesboro home.
“I never had sex with her,” he said. “I sent her a photo of my (genitals) and it went from there. It wasn’t our thing sexually. That puts it on a whole other level. We didn’t have that kind of relationship.”
Davis said the woman’s response to the photo was to call him.
“She told me she was going to call it a Picasso and put it in a frame,” he said.
The woman in the Clayton County case testified Wednesday that she and Davis had unprotected physical relations four times. Davis said Thursday she’s “crazy” and that he pursued restraining orders against her three times.
Davis said she, too, knew of his HIV status when they became involved.
Prosecutors Erman Tanjuatco, Katie Powers and Marcus Thorpe have painted a picture of Davis as a minister with HIV who preyed on women in the church who were willing to engage in physical relations with him.
Davis testified that his status wasn’t a secret to anyone except his children and that it had even been briefly posted to Facebook.
While also claiming that he doubted the accuracy of his HIV status, Davis admitted under cross-examination by Tanjuatco that he made sure Clayton County Jail officials were aware in 2009 so that he wasn’t put in a position where he could infect others. He also takes HIV drugs every day and asked for a high protein, high calorie diet in jail in order to take care of himself against the antibodies.
In fact, the bulk of Davis’ defense is that HIV and AIDS don’t actually exist. Officials with the Office of Medical and Scientific Justice, led by Clark Baker, are assisting defense attorney John Turner in the case. The group, referred to as “AIDS denialists” believes the viruses don’t exist and works to exonerate defendants accused of criminally exposing others to HIV.
Chemist Rodney Richards, an associate of OMSJ, reportedly designed the first HIV test in 1985. His position now is that there is no test for HIV. Richards testified Thursday. Under cross-examination by Powers, however, Richards admitted he didn’t know the purpose of the organization.
“It’s not my organization,” he said. “They sometimes offer small honoraries for presenting affidavits.”
He also testified that in a 2003 interview, he said there is insufficient evidence that HIV exists.
Another AIDS denialist, Dr. Nancy Turner Banks, also testified Friday as a defense witness. She has written a book, “AIDS, Opium, Diamonds and Empire: The Deadly Virus of International Greed,” which spells out alternative ways of dealing with an HIV or AIDS diagnosis.
As a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist from 1984 to 2000, Banks said she told about a dozen women they were HIV-positive. When she hedged on the reliability of the tests since that time, Powers asked if she has had subsequent contact with those patients.
“Have you called the patients to tell them you were wrong?” said Powers.
“No, I haven’t,” Banks said.
The exchange between the two women grew heated at times, with Banks having to be instructed by Judge Geronda Carter about how to respond to questions and Banks appearing to be condescending in her answers. Powers asked Banks if she conducted an interview with Davis.
“I haven’t consulted with the defendant,” said Banks. “I read his history and chart.”
When Powers pointed out that Banks had indicated that the history and chart were incomplete, she wanted to know if Banks tried to get more information from Davis.
“No, I told you I haven’t consulted with the defendant,” said Banks. “So clearly I didn’t take his history.”
Powers also asked directly about the usefulness of HIV testing.
“If you can’t prove a person has HIV, how do you prove they don’t,” said Powers.
“Rational people don’t often ask you to explain a negative,” she said.
Powers asked Banks about assertions about AIDS made in her book.
“You call AIDS an imaginary monster?” she said.
“Yes,” said Banks. “And there is no evidence that HIV is sexually-transmitted.”
Banks also said she blames rap stars in the social context of perpetuating the myth of HIV/AIDS. In the medical context, Banks said people need to be emotionally balanced and drink more water.
“Did you say that if people align their chakra they can defeat AIDS?” said Powers.
Banks said no and clarified her position.
“No, people need to be emotionally balanced,” she said. “When people become fearful, they act irrationally. You can make rational decisions when you are in balance.”
At press time, both the defense and the state were preparing to make closing arguments to the jurors.