(ATLANTA) – The HIV trial of Craig Lamar Davis in Clayton Country is over and the verdict is in: guilty on both counts of aggravated assault. Davis faces up to 20 years in prison for knowingly exposing a woman to HIV, a felony in Georgia, and his sentencing is scheduled for February 21. The trial lasted a week and included 60 exhibits and testimony from more than 30 witnesses, an unprecedented number for an HIV criminal trial, and yet the jury deliberated for less than an hour before reaching a verdict. Their hasty decision suggests that something far more powerful than scientific evidence swayed them.
“It’s very hard to override 30-plus years of HIV bias and hysteria,” Davis’ attorney John Turner told reporters. “The (Clayton) jury’s decision reflects that. We clearly established reasons to question [Davis’] test results. We had documents and medical experts so jurors had reasonable doubt handed to them on a platter. They decided in their wisdom to disregard it.”
Replay of Reasonable Doubt
Assisted by Clark Baker, director of the Office of Medical and Scientific Justice (OMSJ), Davis’ defense focused on the unreliability of HIV tests and the likelihood that Davis was never infected with the virus in the first place. Jurors heard from OMSJ associate Rodney Richards, Ph.D., the Amgen senior chemist who actually developed the first HIV test and holds its patent. He testified: “The problem is that none of the 39 HIV-related diagnostic tests or devices currently approved by the FDA claim to confirm the actual presence of HIV in any sample with any degree of accuracy.” In fact, Richards added, “No HIV test on the market today is able to identify the actual virus, only antibodies associated with it.”
OMSJ associate and Harvard-trained physician Nancy Banks, concurred: “There is no practical test for screening that indicates, with any medical or scientific accuracy, whether a person has the HIV virus and is infectious. All HIV tests are an assumption, made by clinicians, but not direct proof. A direct, reliable method would be to culture the virus from blood or other body tissue. However, this has never been accomplished.”
Surely, Banks and Richards’ credentials and first-hand knowledge of HIV tests provided at least some reasonable doubt. But there was more to come, and prosecutors own medical witnesses unwittingly provided it.
Davis Never Diagnosed
On the witness stand, Davis’ physicians admitted they had never actually diagnosed him as having the virus, and they did not conduct a clinical examination of Davis as required by the FDA. Instead, the doctors admitted, they relied solely on the test results. Lab techs from Quest Diagnostics who administered Davis’ tests also acknowledged they had never rendered a diagnosis. As disturbing as this situation sounds, it is common practice among medical professionals across the country and demonstrates the widespread misuse and malpractice associated with HIV testing.
Exhibits shown to the jury by the defense showed enlarged HIV test package inserts that clearly described the limitations of the test. In language devised by the FDA and test manufacturers themselves, the inserts state the tests “are presumptive” and the significance of a reactive or positive result in asymptomatic patients is “unknown.”
Why did such uncertainty, coming straight from the FDA, not stick in the jurors’ minds? “I don’t blame the jury,” says OMSJ founder Clark Baker, “because the jury was comprised of people who have been deluged with one-sided HIV propaganda since the early 1980s. Most people in America have been conditioned to believe what is generally accepted and promoted by mainstream medicine.”
That still leaves open the question of why all Davis’ physicians and lab techs did not read the FDA’s advisory? If they had, surely they would not have relied solely on the tests results in determining Davis was HIV “positive.” “With no clinical diagnosis, no evidence Davis was infected with HIV,” notes Baker, “the prosecution had a duty to ensure that there was sufficient evidence to prove Davis was HIV positive. That evidence wasn’t there.”
So why did jurors vote to convict Davis? “Prosecutors relied almost entirely on the jurors’ passions and fears about HIV and AIDS,” explained Baker, “even when their own medical witnesses admitted they had never actually diagnosed Davis with HIV.”
There was and is much to doubt about the conventional thinking about HIV tests, and OMSJ continues to carry out its mission to provide medical, scientific, legal and investigative support to the victims of unapproved and unreliable medical and scientific practices. Of the more than 50 cases the organization has completed since 2009, all but four have resulted in favorable plea agreements, acquittal, or the withdrawal of all HIV-related charges.