Donna Baker also testified that Heard called her between 3:30 and 3:45 p.m., promising to call again around 6:00 p.m. after Davis was gone. He hung up the phone abruptly without saying, "I love you," which was his habit. Instead he said, "I've got to go."
When Davis returned to the upscale Riverwalk Apartments, she said, the door at No. 1000 was locked. Collecting a key from the apartment manager, she found Heard apparently unconscious on the love seat.
"I couldn't see any visible signs of trauma," she said. So she began a standard CPR assessment by slapping him and checking for his carotid and radial pulses. She said it was just dark enough in the apartment that she couldn't see the blue tinge in his lips. She thought he had taken an overdose.
While on the phone to 911, she spotted the gun behind the love seat. She testified the sight of it probably prompted her to tell 911 that "my boyfriend shot himself in the chest," even though she had not yet seen the wound. His green outer shirt, a thick garment that made a forlorn appearance in court having been sliced up the middle by paramedics, was bunched so she didn't see the gaping wound beneath it.
Only after she moved his body to the floor and began rescue breathing did she see the wound and realize CPR would be quite useless, she said.
Davis testified a total of four hours and 45 minutes, most of that under cross-examination. Although generally composed, her face crumpled and she broke into tears on many occasions, at one point sobbing, "Miss Raney, I was trying to do the best I could in a really bad situation. I hope it never happens to you or anyone else in this courtroom!"
Juror Joe Aliason was dissuaded of her innocence by her description of herself as "hysterical" over finding a dead body. Aliason's a former resident of San Diego who lived downtown on E Street and worked as an electronics technician at KTTY, Channel 69, until moving to Little Rock four years ago.
"The defense kept trying to portray her as some high-time psychiatrist," he said, "but I know that St. Vincent de Paul's section downtown and those are not high-time psychiatrists that work down there. And if you're working with homeless people, especially in San Diego, you're used to a lot of tense situations. You have to be. And so I did not believe her when she talked about making all these mistakes at the scene because she was shocked at seeing a dead man."
The two years it took Little Rock police to gather evidence passed very slowly, said William Heard, the father, as he waited in the rotunda for the jury to reach its verdict. A tall, reserved man with the aristocratic wit cultivated in his native Oxford, Mississippi, he reads two books a week on astrophysics and comparative religions and once studied creative writing under William Faulkner, who was his father's scoutmaster.
Although Heard refused to entertain talk of investigative incompetence -- "It would misrepresent our gratitude, and I do believe they have done their best" -- the defense found plenty of room in which to suggest otherwise.
The state did not call Peretti, the pathologist of record, to testify, even though he was available. It called instead his colleague Dr. Charles Hall Kokes, who said Heard would not have been able to pivot and toss the gun under the piano before he died. The defense then called Peretti, who said Heard might have had seven or eight lucid seconds before he collapsed. Were it not for the trace evidence finding, Peretti testified, he would still consider the death a suicide.
Gary Lawrence of the trace evidence lab testified for the prosecution about finding an "inconclusive" amount of powder residue on Davis's hands. But then the defense called Lawrence's supervisor, who testified in a soft and reluctant voice that she disagreed with his interpretation of the numbers. "I would call them negative," Lisa Sakevicius said.
Jurors also noted it impressed them that a hired defense witness, Dr. Charles Bux, the deputy chief medical examiner of Bexar County in Texas, agreed with Peretti and Sakevicius. "San Antonio is a huge jurisdiction," one said. "He had seen many cases in which people shot in the heart could walk around."
There were no pertinent measurements taken at the scene; photographs presented as incriminating were impeached, and state's witnesses had to admit that both of the diagrams investigators used were inaccurate, including the large one Raney showed the jury.
That jury included a premed student, a lawyer, and four people who'd seen suicide in their families. It was a well-mannered jury, and those on the sidewalk enjoyed chatting together after the trial. They wanted to talk evidence some more. There was also the lure of TV news Betacam spotlights fixing and pinning single jurors farther down the sidewalk.
The rain began to fall in earnest and the jurors scattered, but Aliason lingered. He said the jury deadlocked because two men "knew in their hearts" that Davis was guilty and couldn't live with letting her walk the street.
"I can live with her on the street," he said, shrugging. "The state didn't prove she did it."