Former Kansas Jayhawks basketball player Silvio De Sousa will testify on his own behalf during his trial for aggravated battery in Douglas County District Court, his lawyer, Hatem Chahine, told jurors Tuesday.
De Sousa was charged with aggravated battery — a Level 5 felony — on Oct. 28, 2020. The alleged battery at Brother’s Bar & Grill in Lawrence on Jan. 1, 2020 took place nearly a year before De Sousa announced he was leaving the KU men’s basketball team.
Chahine and Douglas County deputy district attorney Joshua Seiden delivered opening statements late Tuesday afternoon, the first day of an expected three-day trial this week.
Seiden, who spoke first, relayed the prosecution’s version of events that led the victim — 32-year-old Shawnee native Grant Davis — to permanently lose vision in his left eye. Davis was not present at Tuesday’s proceedings.
Seiden said De Sousa struck Davis hard enough during a New Years’ altercation to result in Davis’ left eye blindness. In closing, Seiden told jurors the evidence would show that De Sousa “acted recklessly,” made contact with Davis in his left eye and also caused Davis “disfigurement.”
Chahine followed by stating that while De Sousa didn’t have to prove his innocence, his client nonetheless would be testifying to give his version of events. Chahine, who acknowledged physical contact between De Sousa and Davis, argued that “a slap across the cheek does not result in the loss of an eye.”
One of the main disagreements between the two sides during Tuesday’s open statements centered around the severity of contact. Seiden said that Davis was struck forcefully enough by De Sousa to fall to the ground; Chahine followed by saying that De Sousa attempted two open-handed slaps, with only the second one connecting with Davis’ face. Chahine said Davis did not fall to the ground and was able to walk away under his own power.
De Sousa was joined Tuesday inside and outside the courtroom by a multi-person film crew.
When he last played at KU during the 2019-20 season, De Sousa averaged 2.6 points in 8.4 minutes per game. He and KU coach Bill Self announced on Oct. 16, 2020, that he was leaving KU’s team to focus on “personal issues.”
De Sousa put his name in the transfer portal this summer, and two weeks ago, he announced plans on social media to join Chattanooga’s basketball program next season.
Aggravated battery is a Level 5 felony, with prosecutors charging that De Sousa “unlawfully, feloniously and recklessly cause(d) great bodily harm or disfigurement to another person.”
The first witnesses will be called to the stand at 9 a.m. Wednesday.