In the background of a 911 call, Roy Davis can be heard speaking his final words and taking his final breath. He begs and pleads for his life as one of his two attackers calls the police on July 11, 2016.
“Help, Help,” an out-of-breath Davis exclaims.
“Don’t you move. Don’t you f***ing move,” Diane Durkin and James Rosenbaum say at another moment.
For more than 10 minutes, the call details Davis’ final moments. Much of the conversation was inaudible. Only panting, yelling and mumbled words are heard. As Davis pleas, the two callers said it was actually Davis that was the attacker and they were defending themselves.
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There is one distinct sound on the call, a baseball bat striking Davis. The thud, followed by Davis’ screams, are heard several times throughout the call.
Was it self-defense, as Durkin and James Rosenbaum claim? Was it murder, as the state contends? A judge soon will decide on the self-defense question. Durkin and Rosenbaum began a Stand Your Ground hearing Monday to make their case. Durkin testified and defense attorneys played the 911 tape for the judge.
The gallery remained nearly silent, except for a dozen of Davis’ friends and family, as a laptop’s speakers broadcast the call inside a Horry County courtroom. A couple moved or left the courtroom. One woman was heard crying in the hallway.
Durkin took a tissue to her eye, her hands still shackled, as she listened to her own words from the night.
“I was trying to be nice and he tried to attack me, that’s a fact,” Durkin said near the end of her testimony.
Davis and Durkin were acquaintances before the attack and both used drugs. Durkin said she gave Davis a ride to her 1272 S.C. 548 mobile home and he went to a nearby residence.
He returned after a short bit — sweaty, angry and agitated — and asked for a ride home. Durkin declined and told him she was tired. She gave him a glass of water and invited him inside to escape the July heat.
Durkin went to a bedroom to finish the laundry and called Rosenbaum. When she came back to the living area, she said, Davis was naked.
She demanded Davis leave, but he said he wanted her. That is when Davis punched and slapped Durkin, she said. He jumped on top of her in what she said was a rape attempt.
“I was screaming profusely to get him off,” Durkin said.
It was during the struggle that Davis ripped her shirt, she said. Durkin pointed to a tear under the armpit when the shirt was shown in the courtroom. Senior Assistant Solicitor Nancy Livesay described it as small, which the defense objected to as a characterization.
Rosenbaum arrived back to the trailer to see the attack unfolding. He grabbed a purple baseball bat the two kept by the porch and hit Davis to stop the assault.
Davis pleaded on the 911 call for help. Rosenbaum yelled in the background that Davis tried to rape his girlfriend.
Faintly, Davis says that is a lie and Durkin responded: “You’re a lying piece of s***.”
After a few minutes, Durkin can be heard telling Davis that he can’t leave. She testified that Davis got up and staggered towards the door, which is probably how blood got on the front door. Police also found blood in the kitchen, a mattress — which was Davis’ final resting place — and other areas in a “gruesome” crime scene.
“Don’t you go out this door,” Durkin yells. “I hate you, you f***.”
She and Rosenbaum tried to keep Davis in the home until police arrived, she said. While they waited, the sound of the bat hitting flesh — which Livesay mimicked by taking the same bat in the courtroom and hitting a podium — persisted.
Durkin said she hit Davis once in the leg and once in the groin with the baseball bat. When asked about Davis’ head injuries, Durkin said they must have happened during his scuffle with Rosenbaum.
Davis pleaded in the background of the call that he couldn’t move. He couldn’t move. The defendants told Davis that he wasn’t going anywhere.
“If a person can’t move, they can’t move. They are not a threat then,” Durkin admitted towards the end of cross-examination. She quickly counted and added, “but he was a threat when he came in and tried to rape me.”
As the call ends, the panting and chaos is replaced by more calm voices. Durkin asks if police are en route and said she would leave a light on the porch. Rosenbaum asks if an ambulance is coming, too.
“He’s not a violent guy. He’s just protecting me, that’s all,” Durkin told dispatchers in one of her last comments.
Now, it’s up to a judge to decide.