LAWRENCE | A Lawrence woman testified that a bitter custody dispute prompted her 15-year-old son to beat her with a bat while her ex-husband was holding her and encouraging him to hit her harder.
The woman testified Thursday in Douglas County District Court in a preliminary hearing for her ex-husband, Arthur Davis III, who's charged with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping and contributing to a child's misconduct.
The woman, whose name is not being published to protect the identities of the children, described a fight on the night of June 15 and early June 16 after waking up to her son hitting her.
"It was horror," the woman said. "I had feared that I would be attacked in this manner. I knew that if his dad was with him I couldn't fight them both."
The son is also charged with attempted first-degree murder and the couple's 12-year-old daughter faces conspiracy charges for her alleged role in the attack.
The victim, who lived with her daughter, testified that during the attack she yelled for her daughter to call 911, but the boy was telling his sister not to call 911 because he didn't want to go to jail.
The woman said she escaped into a bathroom and called 911. She said while she was on the phone, her ex-husband broke down the bathroom door, dragged her into the hallway, where she said her son continued to hit her.
The woman's 911 call was played in court.
"Hit her, harder, harder, harder," Davis can be heard yelling on the call, while holding the woman by her arms, according to testimony.
The woman eventually escaped and ran down the street. She said her son, armed with the bat, chased her. The attack ended when police arrived.
The woman was treated at Lawrence Memorial Hospital for multiple cuts to her head, including a 3-to-4 inch cut to her scalp that had to be stapled shut.
The woman testified she and Davis had fought over custody of the children since their 1999 divorce. She said he and the kids became upset when in 2006 she filed a motion with the court seeking roughly $20,000 from Davis in back child support.
The woman said Davis was "obsessed" with having the children live with him and that he wanted them to drop out of school to earn money on a paper route.
A custody evaluation was ordered in June 2008. The woman said the doctor who did the evaluation was going to recommend the son stay with his father, while the daughter continue to live with her. Davis had seen the report the Friday before the attack.
"I knew it was something the defendant was capable of," the woman testified. "I knew I was in the way of what he wanted."
At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Robert Fairchild bound the defendant over for trial on all three charges.
Defense attorney Greg Robinson said only the son was responsible for the attack.
"I'm almost speechless," Robinson told the judge. "All this catfight that went down in the bedroom, that's just smoke. It has nothing to do with Arthur Davis."
Davis' arraignment was set for Sept. 18.