© Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Thursday marks the most pivotal day of the Reuben Foster saga to date. Foster will appear before a judge for a preliminary court hearing in San Jose at 9 am.
Foster faces three felony charges, including domestic violence, from a series of Feb. 11 incidents. Ever since, the case has loomed over the 49ers and their prized linebacker. They have not released him, but both general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan have made it clear that Foster will be cut if the domestic violence charges are proven true.
Here is a chronicled account of the Foster saga.
Jan. 13: Foster is arrested in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and charged with second-degree marijuana possession. This arrest is unrelated to the current felony charges.
Based on past precedent, Foster could face a one-game suspension from the NFL, however the legality of marijuana in California adds a potential wrinkle into the league’s decision.
Feb. 11: Foster is arrested on suspicion of domestic violence against his former girlfriend, Elissa Ennis, in his Los Gatos home. He was displaced to the Santa Clara County Main Jail for charges on domestic violence, threats, and possession of an assault weapon.
Apr. 12: The Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office charges Foster with three felonies, including domestic violence with an allegation that he inflicted great bodily injury, forcefully attempting to prevent a victim from reporting a crime, and possession of an assault weapon. If convicted, Foster could face as many as 11 years in prison, according to the DA’s report.
Several new details emerge in the case, which are listed below.
- Foster allegedly attacked Ennis, 28, during an argument, leaving her bruised and with a ruptured ear drum. The report indicates he dragged Ennis by her hair, physically threw her out of the house, and punched her in the head eight to 10 times.
- Shortly after the assault, the victim was treated for injuries at a local hospital, according to the DA’s report. Officers found illegal weaponry in Foster’s home, including a Sig Sauer 516 assault rifle with a large capacity magazine, both of which are illegal to possess in California.
The 49ers release a statement later in the day, saying they are aware of the ‘disturbing’ reports against Foster, but he remains a member of the team.
Nearly two months later, the Sacramento Bee reports new details of the alleged incident, which are listed below.
- Foster threatened to kill Ennis if she contacted the police. She tried calling the police as she later escaped the house, but when she fell down, Foster threw her phone, breaking it.
- The onset of the fight came on Feb. 10, when Foster threw Ennis’ dog across the room. The dog was not injured.
- The only account of the alleged incidents in which both Foster and Ennis confirmed is that he broke two of her phones, the other when Foster believed Ennis was video-recording him during an earlier argument.
- Once police arrived at the scene, officers identified that Ennis had suffered a ‘swollen right lower lip, scratches and a cut on the back of her neck and a scrape on her left knee,’ according to the Sacramento Bee’s Matt Barrows. Ennis reportedly said her pain level was at an ‘eight’ on a scale of one-to-10.
- Police found a loaded .38 caliber pistol and a Sig Sauer rifle, the assault weapon listed as part of his three felony charges last month. According to Barrows, the rifle was loaded and found on the bathroom floor upon the police’s arrival.
- Barrows also reported that officers smelled marijuana in Foster’s Los Gatos home.
Apr. 23: 49ers general manager John Lynch publicly elaborates for the first time about why Foster has not yet been released during a pre-draft meeting with the media.
“We do feel like patience is the right approach right now, that we are going to learn things through this legal process,” Lynch said. “But I do want to be clear, abundantly clear, that if these charges are proven true, that if Reuben did indeed hit this young lady, he won’t be part of our organization going forward.”
Apr. 25: Ennis recants accusations that Foster hit her through her attorney, Stephanie Rickard. Ennis claims her injuries, which included a ruptured ear drum and swollen lip, were suffered during a road-rage incident with another woman, not Foster. A video of the alleged fight is soon given to the DA’s office for consideration.
“(Foster) did not strike her, injure her or threaten her,” Ennis’ attorney Stephanie Rickard said in a statement via Matt Maiocco. “She was extremely upset and told him if he broke up with her she would ‘trash his career.’”
May 8: Foster pleads not guilty and requests a speedy trial, scheduling his preliminary hearing within 10 days. This puts pressure on the DA’s office to gather all evidence and review Ennis’ video in an abbreviated time period.
May 15: The Sacramento Bee reports that Ennis plans to testify that she lied about her initial domestic violence accusations against Foster. She faces the possibility of prosecution due to fabrication.
May 17: The long-awaited preliminary hearing will take place at 9 am in San Jose. After months of reports and allegations, the prosecution will provide its case and decision in response to Ennis’ video. The case is expected to transpire for most of the day.
There are several scenarios that could play out in Thursday’s court hearing.
- Deputy district attorneys could pursue criminal charges against Foster if Ennis stands by her latest story that Foster was not the perpetrator. The case could be sent to a jury trial.
- The DA’s office could choose only to pursue the gun charge, which could be downgraded from a felony to a misdemeanor.
- The judge could dismiss all charges against Foster.
KNBR will provide updates throughout Thursday’s hearing.