SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — The ex-girlfriend of San Francisco 49ers star Reuben Foster took the stand at his domestic violence preliminary hearing Thursday, dramatically recanting her allegations that he punched her in the head several times, rupturing her eardrum.
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 was subsequently charged with felony domestic violence, forcefully attempting to prevent a victim from reporting a crime and possessing an assault weapon.
Thursday was the start of a preliminary hearing on those charges and it began with Ennis taking the stand and emphatically recanting her allegations.
Ennis told investigators after Foster was charged and his football career was placed in jeopardy that her injuries were actually the result of a road rage incident with another woman. However, Santa Clara County prosecutors decided not to drop the charges but instead go through with the preliminary hearing.
It didn’t take long Thursday before Ennis electrified the courtroom.
Ennis testified 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.
Two women got out of the car when Ennis was challenged, and as she described it, “talking trash” through the window.
She said it was possible that both women had come in swinging during the estimated 15-minute-long fight.
A friend who had seen a video of the fight on Instagram sent it to Ennis and at that time she submitted it to her lawyer to turn it in to law enforcement.
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.”
Ennis said she had planned to sue him, but that “things had gone too far”
When Foster was taken to jail, Ennis stole more than $8,000 from his bank account by writing down his account and routing numbers, as well as taking jerseys, designer pieces and two Rolex watches.
Ennis admitted to recently texting Foster that she wanted him to call her back or she was going to kill herself. She said it was because she was depressed, not because she was still in love with him.
“I’m going to admit myself to a clinic as soon as I leave today,” she said.
Foster’s attorney Josh Bentley asked why Ennis appeared and spoke in court against the wishes of her own attorney, Stephanie Rickard, when she could be subjected to charges of perjury, theft and more.
“I had to do the right thing,” Ennis said.
“I’m sorry,” Ennis told the judge. “I really am. I apologize to everybody. I really am sorry.’
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Ennis also admitted that in 2011, she was put in jail for trying to frame another ex-boyfriend for domestic violence in Louisiana.
After the hearing, one legal analyst who was in the courtroom said the testimony put the domestic violence case on life support.
“Mr. Foster plays on defense. But his lawyer went on offense in that cross examination. It could not have gone any better,” said legal analyst Steven Clark, a former prosecutor “Now the prosecution will have to go back and evaluate. Will they just go after the weapons charge and leave the domestic violence out of it?”
Later Thursday, the ruling in the preliminary hearing for Foster was delayed until next week.
When it came to the weapons charge, a police report entered into evidence revealed that officers found two weapons in the house — a loaded .38-caliber pistol and a Sig Sauer short-barreled rifle. The Sig Sauer was found on the floor of the bathroom with a loaded 30-round magazine and a round in the chamber.
Several officers also commented on the strong smell of marijuana they encountered upon entering the home.
The 49ers have said they would release Foster if the allegations proved to be true. He could also face a six-game suspension from the NFL if he is formally charged with domestic violence. A second charge could lead to a lifetime ban.
The latest arrest has continued a pattern for the 49ers. Despite changes in both the coaching staff and the front office, the team has had an ongoing problem with players getting into legal trouble.
17 players for the 49ers have been arrested since 2012, the most in the NFL for that period of time.
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