A woman who accused the police chief's brother of rape is arrested, released and nowhere to be found on trial day. The case is continued.
Police last month found the woman who fled after accusing the younger brother of St. Petersburg's police chief of raping her in January.
They arrested her because prosecutors feared she would flee again. But she begged a judge to release her, promising she would return to testify against Geoffrey Davis at trial. The judge agreed.
On Tuesday, the woman broke her word.
The woman, 36, who is not named because of the nature of the charges, did not appear at Davis' trial, baffling prosecutors and endangering the criminal case against Davis, brother of St. Petersburg police Chief Goliath Davis.
"I cannot explain her non-appearance today," prosecutor Pat Siracusa told a judge as he asked for a continuance of the trial. "We did not ask for her to be released . . . I will locate her if given some time."
Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Brandt Downey agreed to postpone the trial until Oct. 24 after Davis' defense lawyer, J.S. Lucas Fleming, acknowledged he would have asked for a trial continuance himself had the woman appeared.
Without the woman's testimony, the case against Davis is clearly endangered, and Downey could dismiss the case if she is not found.
Davis, 46, still faces a cocaine possession charge. But the rape charge is by far the more serious of the two, carrying a mandatory prison sentence of nine to 15 years if he is convicted.
The cocaine charge does not carry a mandatory prison term.
After the woman first fled earlier this year, Downey signed an order allowing police to arrest her as a material witness to a crime. In late August, St. Petersburg police found and arrested her.
The woman appeared before Circuit Judge Philip Federico on Aug. 24, the day after her arrest.
She told the judge that Geoffrey Davis had warned her that she would be jailed if she testified against him.
But the woman promised to show up for all future court proceedings.
"I want him to be put away for what he did to me," she said. "I just want to go home. I haven't done anything wrong."
Federico agreed to free her, warning that she would be jailed pending trial if she fled again.
"She's the victim in this case," Federico told prosecutors. "We normally don't like to incarcerate . . . the victims of violent crimes unless that's the last available option."
The woman did show up at a deposition a week later, before fleeing again.