Kid Rock case goes to jury

The 11-person jury will begin deliberations Friday morning in the civil case against hick-hopper Kid Rock and his entourage.

The Decatur man suing the musician said Kid Rock and his five co-defendants attacked him without warning during a fight nearly three years ago at a Buford Highway Waffle House.

"What did I do? What did I say?" testified Harlen Akins, 41, who said he was punched and kicked repeatedly by the rocker's crew and feared for his life.

Akins' testimony was repeatedly challenged by the defense, who accused the plaintiff of provoking a tense situation.

"At every opportunity, he took it up a notch," said Kid Rock attorney William Horton in his closing statement to the jury.

Akins testified it was the singer, aka Robert Ritchie, who attacked him, claiming he instructed his posse: “Let’s get this [expletive].”

But Kid Rock said his crew was in defense mode, portraying Akins as an eager agitator.

"We didn't beat up [Akins]," the singer testified in DeKalb County State Court. He said he and his five co-defendants didn't go looking for a fight, contending that Akins goaded them into a physical confrontation. The fracas followed a conversation between the plaintiff, a former concert promoter, and a member of the entertainer's entourage, Davina Barnes.

Ritchie acknowledged tempers were heated and harsh words were exchanged but said, "If we wanted to hurt this man, we could."

The musician stopped at the restaurant following an October 2007 performance at The Tabernacle in Atlanta. He pleaded guilty in March 2008 to a misdemeanor charge of simple battery.

Akins is seeking restitution of roughly $6,000 in medical costs plus an unspecified amount for pain and suffering. The former music promoter followed Kid Rock on the stand as testimony concluded in the three-day-long civil trial.

Akins testified that Barnes, whom he had known for 15 years, had texted insulting messages to him as they sat at adjoining tables at the Waffle House. He said he asked Barnes to stop, to no avail.

“Wherever they could kick me and punch me, they did,” Akins testified. He said he did not fight back.

"I felt like a shipwrecked body," Akins said. "I had pain, pain coming from everywhere."

Ritchie, whose resume of altercations -- including a row with Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards -- was rehashed by plaintiff's attorney Eric Hertz, said he's having difficulty taking Akins' suit seriously.

"I feel like I'm a number in the lawsuit lottery," he said, questioning the extent of the plaintiff's injuries. According to testimony, Akins was released from the hospital after a few hours and was given a prescription for Motrin.

"What we've heard are exaggerated injuries every step of the way," said Horton, who argued that Akins was agitated because he had drank heavily and smoked marijuana before tussling with Kid Rock and his crew.

"You didn't have very good judgment because you were stoned," Horton said.

Hertz highlighted testimony from Waffle House waitress Melissa Burkes and customer Lawrence Hill, both of whom supported his client's account.

"Independent eyewitnesses, not once, but twice said Kid Rock started the fight," Hertz said. "[Kid Rock] told you if someone insults him, he'll punch him. All you have to do is be in at the wrong place at the wrong time and say the wrong thing."