Defense in Mobile reckless murder case grills driver whose car was near accident
MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - A man who was turning into a motel parking lot just before a fatal traffic accident told jurors Monday that he had plenty of clearance and was not close to defendant Jonathan Pishoi Nakhla’s car.
But Christopher Davis also admitted under cross-examination that he did not have a driver’s license that day and, in fact, never has had a license.
Davis is a key figure in Nakhla’s reckless murder trial. The defense has suggested that it was not the defendant’s drinking and speeding that caused the wreck, as prosecutors allege – but Davis cutting him off.
Davis on Monday offered an account that is similar to the one he gave on the witness stand two weeks ago. That was outside the jury’s presence and was an opportunity for Mobile County Circuit Judge Ben Brooks to rule on admissibility of evidence.
Davis testified Monday that he saw on Facebook that his fiancé's brother was at the Comfort Inn of the Interstate 65 service road on the night of July 31, 2020, and was expecting a pair of classmates for their days at B.C. Rain High School who were visiting from out of town. He said he and his fiancé and young son pulled up to the motel a little while after midnight.
“I saw headlights off in the distance,” he said, estimating the car was near Dauphin Way Baptist Church.
Davis added that he used his turn signal,
“I had clearance,” he said. “I just completed my turn.”
Defense attorney Dennis Knizley challenged Davis’s credibility on issues ranging from his home to his job.
Davis testified that he was not drinking or using drugs on the night of the accident. He also testified that he does not drink at all except on special occasions when he is at home. Knizley displayed a message in which Davis wrote in a group chat on Aug 1., 2020, “Bet I’ll outdrink everybody.”
Davis testified that his job working on an off-shore rig requires tests for drugs and alcohol.
“Obviously, they know I’m joking,” he testified.
But Knizley questioned whether Davis really was working on the rig at the time of the accident. He showed the witness a number of Facebook posts and messages that the lawyer maintains are evidence he was really working at Field and Stream. Davis said he worked at the store at one time but that he was not at that time.
Knizley also showed the witness a picture of a house and a deed in his name after he testified that he did not live there. He responded to the picture and deed by saying he worked on the off-shore rig but purchased the house for his fiancé and children.
At another point, Knizley disputed Davis’ testimony from March 3 in which he said he said he was home during the day before going out to the Comfort Inn. But Knizley confronted him with a message he posted about being in the casino.
Davis grew visibly exasperated over the questions.
“What does all this have to do with this accident? … I feel like these questions are irrelevant,” he said.
Testimony will continue this week.
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