Jacob Ryan Davis responded with emotional signs of relief Wednesday as the bailiff in Barton County District Court read the jury’s verdict: Not guilty.
The verdict was repeated for each of the four charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. After the fourth “not guilty,” Davis hugged his attorney.
The charges stemmed from Nov. 2, 2014, when Davis pulled a gun in the courtyard behind Charlie’s Place, at the end of a fight at the bar in Great Bend.
The jury’s decision was unanimous, and by extension members of the jury also agreed that no crime of domestic violence had been committed by Davis that night.
“I am extremely happy of the verdict,” Davis told the Great Bend Tribune before leaving the courthouse Wednesday. “I couldn’t be happier. My life can move on.”
He is a firefighter and Advanced Emergency Medical Technician, or AEMT, in Dodge City.
Davis said he pulled the weapon in self defense. He wanted to stop a fight involving three men against one, and he believed they would be coming for him next, he testified Tuesday. He also testified he was the designated driver and did not consume any alcohol that night, and that the gun happened to be unloaded, although he pretended it was not.
The prosecution maintained the fight was already over, and that Davis didn’t need to pull a weapon. Four people, including Davis’s ex-wife, her boyfriend and the boyfriend’s two brothers, could reasonably assume they were in danger of immediate bodily harm, according to the case presented by Barton County Attorney Douglas Matthews.
But defense attorney Robert A. Anderson disagreed.
“(Davis) did something instead of nothing,” Anderson told the jury in his closing statement on Tuesday. “That night he did what he thought was right.” Anderson added that a conviction would “send a message (that) in this community, we don’t help other people.”
The last witness testified Tuesday afternoon, and attorneys then spent several hours working on instructions that would be presented to the jury. Shortly before 5 p.m., District Judge Ron Svaty told the jurors they had four options: They could go home; stay and hear the instructions; stay and hear instructions and closing statements; or stay for instructions and closings, and begin deliberations. They opted to begin deliberations Wednesday morning, starting at 9 a.m. when their first task was choosing a foreman. The verdict was ready around 10:30 a.m