SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — A Santa Clara County judge has ruled that San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster will not have to stand trial on domestic violence charges after the accuser recanted her allegations at a preliminary hearing.
Judge Nona Klippen said Wednesday that prosecutors didn’t meet the burden of probable cause on charges of felony domestic violence and forcefully attempting to dissuade a witness.
Foster was also charged with felony possession of an assault weapon after officers found a Sig Sauer 516 short-barreled rifle in his home while investigating his ex-girlfriend’s domestic violence report. That charge was reduced to a misdemeanor.
The 49ers issued a statement from General Manager John Lynch after the judge’s ruling.
“The organization is aware the domestic violence charges against Reuben Foster were dismissed earlier today. As a result, he will have the opportunity to rejoin the team tomorrow,” the statement read. “It has been made clear to Reuben that his place on this team is one that must continue to be earned. We will continue to monitor the remaining misdemeanor charge.”
The Santa Clara County District Attorney also issued a statement, expressing their disappointment with the ruling.
Foster was arrested on Feb. 11 when his then-girlfriend Elissa Ennis flagged down a stranger’s car to call 911 and told responding sheriff’s deputies and Los Gatos police that the NFL player had dragged her by her hair, threw her out of the house and punched her in the head eight to 10 times, leaving her bruised and with a ruptured eardrum.
The 24-year-old linebacker had previously pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Since Foster was charged, Ennis has testified at his preliminary hearing that she lied to police. She told the court that she actually suffered injuries to the side of her face, her knee, the back of her neck and her eardrum because of a fight she got into with an unnamed woman on her way to Pier 39.
Ennis said the fight took place when she had come from “somewhere near Oakland” after getting her hair done. It began with a traffic dispute and ended with bystanders pulling Ennis and a stranger apart.
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She proceeded to tell the courtroom that she called 911 because he broke up with her then she told him, “you ain’t gonna have a job tomorrow.”
“I really wanted to kill him,” Ennis testified. “I was so hurt… I wanted him to go down. I was pissed.”
The judge was expected to rule as early as Wednesday whether he will allow the Santa Clara County DA’s office to bring the charges to trial.
The 49ers have not allowed Foster to take part in the offseason program while he dealt with these charges and general manager Lynch said he would be cut from the team if it was determined that he hit a woman.
Last week, head coach Kyle Shanahan addressed Foster’s situation with reporters.
“Hopefully we’ll have some more answers by tomorrow,” he told reporters about Foster’s future with the team. “We’ve been patient this whole time and we’re going to continue be patient until we get a few more answers.”
Shanahan said while Foster has been banned from the 49ers practice facility, he has continued to stay in touch.
“I reach out to him about once, twice a week just to see how he’s doing,” the coach said.
When asked how Foster was doing, Shanahan said it was “a tough challenge” the young linebacker is facing.
“He’s hanging in there,” the 49ers coach said. “Obviously, it’s a tough challenge. I think anyone would realize, this is a very hard thing to go through. We’ll see how this ends up, but you just always hope that every situation you’re in, in the long run it can make you a better person and a better man. I think Reuben is handling it right.”
© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.