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'I was hoping it would stay away from San Diego," she said, compressing her meaty lips and furrowing her broad fore-head. She had not expected Californian curiosity to find her here, crammed with other unhappy persons into the unsteady first pew of Pulaski County's Sixth Circuit courtroom in Little Rock, Arkansas.

But in a blink of her penetrating, well-made-up eyes, Dr. Kimberly Ann Davis took her loss of sanctuary in stride and turned her attention to surviving the capital murder charge still pending against her. She'd already endured a mistrial. On October 2, after more than 11 hours of deliberations, seven men and five women had hung 10-2 in favor of acquitting her in the shooting death of her wealthy ex-boyfriend, William Heard III.

Chains clinked and the gray-haired bailiff led in a shuffling string of seven prisoners in orange jumpsuits, one of whom ducked and grinned stupidly, waving to his family in the pew behind hers. By comparison, the collected Davis looked positively professional.

Her heavy face remained composed as she said words she would repeat verbatim for several reporters within the quarter hour: That she was anxious to go home. That she had a private office in San Diego. That she was considering "various projects."

Soon enough, Judge David Bogard asked prosecutor Terry Raney if she intended to retry the case. Raney declined. Davis was free to go.

Once outside on the sidewalk, she teared up before the battery of TV cameras. "In some ways I think that the system has been unfair to the Heard family," she said, "and I feel very sad that they've been allowed to believe in anything but that Bill did commit suicide.

"I want to go home. I'm going back to San Diego."

She and her attorneys said the state was "flat-out wrong" to try her for murder; but jurors interviewed after the mistrial were less adamant. Seven of them clustered outside the 1887 Pulaski County Courthouse as what would become a long, soaking rain began to dot the sidewalk around them. At one point in their deliberations, they said, they had hung 10-2 in favor of manslaughter.

"I thought she was innocent until they put her on the stand," one juror said, and the woman beside her nodded. "But the state didn't prove she pulled the trigger."

The dead man's father, William Heard Jr., has said the family is considering a civil action. Heard, his wife, son, daughter, son-in-law, and two staunch family friends listened stoically to hours of defense testimony characterizing Bill Heard as an alcoholic and drug abuser and suggesting his mother's mental health played a role in his alleged depression. The only sign the elder Heard gave of resentment was an occasional, apparently habitual, ear twitch.

Bill Heard, 39, was an unemployed commodities investor supported by a trust fund he was not allowed to control. His financial consultant estimated the trust's value lay between $5 million and $7 million at the time he died, but he had just lost $600,000 in the market. He had no driver's license because he refused to attend 30 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to complete his sentence for DWI convictions. He was 6 feet 3 inches tall, weighed 203 pounds, liked to drink Ensure Plus, played the guitar and the piano, and loved his huntin' dog, James Brown.

Davis, 42, is a medical doctor trained in psychiatry who has practiced general medicine at clinics in Oceanside and Del Mar and counseled homeless people in St. Vincent de Paul's community mental health section in downtown San Diego. A native of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and a graduate of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, she is overweight and well dressed, well manicured, well spoken, and quick with a smile for strangers. She wears waterproof mascara.

Davis was accused of shooting Heard in the heart with his own .357-caliber Magnum revolver around 4:00 p.m. January 2, 1996, "unlawfully, feloniously, with the premeditated and deliberated purpose of causing the death of another person"-- an offense against the dignity of the State of Arkansas that can carry the death penalty. It did not in her case.

Davis can now redeem the $50,000 bond she posted in February -- a low bond in a capital murder trial, but the court did not consider her a flight risk. She remained in Arkansas nine months while under investigation, only returning to San Diego when authorities agreed. Two years later she came back to Arkansas for arraignment, posted bond, and was allowed to return to San Diego until her trial began September 16.

She testified on the stand that she did not kill Bill Heard.

They met at a bar in 1984 and lived together off and on through ten years, during which time Heard struggled with alcoholism, seeing therapists Davis recommended and entering treatment facilities. She prescribed tranquilizers for him beginning in 1985 and continued even after he had been diagnosed as abusing them. She testified she gave him the medicines to help him through alcohol withdrawals and to treat insomnia and gastric upset.

In 1990, Heard left Davis for Donna Baker, a raven-tressed, high-heeled single mother who, according to court testimony, broke his heart five years later by ripping off his credit cards and sleeping with another man.

Davis moved to San Diego in 1991 but continued to send him prescriptions for Paxil, a Prozac type antidepressant, through the mail. In spring of 1991, Heard gave her two gifts amounting to $75,000 to pay back taxes.

Witnesses agreed that his breakup with Donna Baker hit Heard hard in the summer of 1995. He holed up at a trailer on Sligo Plantation, his family's peaceful hunting camp 15 miles south of Natchez, Mississippi. There, according to videotaped testimony by camp caretaker and longtime friend Jimmy Lee Ivory, a black man with an almost indecipherable Mississippi accent, he slept into the afternoon most days and seemed stressed.

Meanwhile, Davis had dropped out of her residency program at UCSD because it did not "challenge" her and the level of supervision was "infantile." She moved to Birmingham, Alabama, to enter a residency program there.

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