A Clayton County jury found a Stone Mountain man guilty Tuesday of knowingly exposing a woman to HIV.
Craig Lamar Davis, 43, sat motionless in a packed courtroom as the jury read guilty verdicts in two counts of reckless HIV, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Davis was taken into custody. Sentencing is set for 10 a.m. Feb. 21.
Shortly before being taken into custody, Davis comforted family members, some of whom were crying.
The case is the first of its kind to be tried in Clayton County, prosecutors said after the trial.
“We are pleased with the verdict,” said Kathryn Powers, deputy chief assistant district attorney, one of three prosecutors in the case. “They (jury) were able to weigh the validity of testimony of people who don’t believe AIDS or HIV exist.” Powers also noted the jury’s verdict sends a strong message that it is incumbent that people infected with the virus notify people of their status.
James Walker, the attorney for the woman whose allegations led to the case, said he hoped the verdict “will give others the courage and fortitude to bring these types of individuals to justice.”
District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson said Tuesday’s verdict sets the stage for a similar case against Davis in Fulton County. The defense conceded Tuesday’s decision could make it tough to try the same case in Fulton.
“It’s hard to override 30-plus years of HIV prejudice and hysteria,” John Turner, Davis’ attorney said. “The (Clayton) jury’s decision reflects that. We clearly established reasons to question the results of (HIV testing). We handed them reasonable doubt on a platter but they chose to disregard it.”
The verdict ended a week of testimony from medical professionals and other witnesses, including a California nonprofit that refutes HIV testing. The Office of Medical and Scientific Justice flew in experts at its own expense to help in Davis’ defense.
“I’m just disappointed by the verdict,” OMSJ director Clark Baker said. He said his organization is considering filing claims against the doctors, hospitals and others who Baker believes misdiagnosed Davis since HIV tests on the market state they can not be used to definitively detect HIV.