Former Kansas Jayhawks basketball player Silvio De Sousa took the stand during his trial for aggravated battery Wednesday, while conflicting stories from two KU softball players were among the most significant testimony during the second day of proceedings at Douglas County District Court.
De Sousa was charged with aggravated battery — a Level 5 felony — on Oct. 28. 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.
The prosecution contends that De Sousa struck 32-year-old Shawnee native Grant Davis hard enough during to result in Davis’ left eye blindness.
Two witnesses within feet of the incident are or were KU softball players: Tarin Travieso, who was dating De Sousa at the time, and Macy Omli.
Both women shared their versions of what they saw that night on Wednesday, with Omli saying she had ended communication with Travieso — her former roommate — “probably because of this case” and their now-conflicting accounts of what happened.
“She was dating (Silvio),” Omli said of Travieso. “We just didn’t have the same stories.”
Multiple witnesses Wednesday testified that De Sousa struck Davis with an open-handed swing outside Brother’s after Davis had yelled at an arguing De Sousa and Travieso, “God, would you shut the (expletive) up?”
Travieso — she was dating De Sousa at the time but testified that the two broke up a few months ago after she graduated from KU and moved back to her home state of Texas — said that Davis walked away with some redness on his cheek but “nothing crazy.” According to Travieso, Davis was the one who originally approached them before the altercation, and De Sousa did not make contact with Davis’ eye when he connected.
Omli’s testimony differed.
After Davis had yelled at the arguing couple, Omli said that De Sousa approached Davis and landed an open-handed blow, which she said drew blood from Davis’ eye and rolled down his face. She said after someone pulled De Sousa away from the fight and he came over to her after the incident, she yelled at him for getting involved.
Omli said Davis later said sorry to both her and De Sousa while walking away from them, and she told Davis that he had no reason to apologize. When Omli was first approached by Lawrence police in August 2020 about the case, she was living with Travieso and De Sousa was at their house, which she said made it an uncomfortable situation when she was questioned.
De Sousa — wearing a navy suitcoat and tan shirt Wednesday — was the last to take the stand, serving as the defense’s only witness. He admitted to making contact with Davis’ face on his second attempt to swat at him, though he said he did so with a vertical, up-and-down swinging motion. De Sousa said his right hand made contact with the right side of Davis’ face, while saying that a tight-fitting jacket that night wouldn’t allow him to swing in a more horizontal, slapping-like motion.
Douglas County deputy district attorney Joshua Seiden questioned De Sousa on his assertion that he wasn’t strong enough to swing his arm horizontally in cross examination, bringing up De Sousa’s high school basketball scouting reports from recruiting sites. When Seiden asked if those evaluations listed De Sousa as one of the strongest players in his class, De Sousa said, “I would think they would say that.”
De Sousa also testified, before the altercation took place, that Davis approached him first before he himself took a few steps forward. He said Davis told him to “Shut the (expletive) up” twice. When De Sousa asked him why he said that, he said Davis told him, “What are you going to do about it, bitch?”
According to De Sousa, his first swing at Davis missed before the second landed on his right cheek.
“I didn’t touch his eyes,” De Sousa said. “I never touched his eyes.”
De Sousa said he was first contacted by Lawrence police officers about the incident in August 2020, but he didn’t respond because he talked to KU’s basketball coaches, who told him to get a lawyer first. De Sousa eventually agreed to an invterview with a Lawrence detective at KU’s basketball dormitory, McCarthy Hall, on Oct. 15, 2020; De Sousa’s lawyer, Hatem Chahine, was present at the meeting.
De Sousa, who was present for all of Wednesday’s testimony that presented the extent of Davis’ eye injury, testified “I don’t think I have the strength to cause the damages I see I now.”
Others who took the stand Wednesday included Davis, former Brother’s bouncer Chad Cessna, along with two doctors who had seen Davis for his injuries and two law-enforcement officers involved in the case.
Davis was first, claiming that during the altercation, one of De Sousa’s strikes “felt like this brick hitting my eye.” Davis said he believed he was hit “three or four times” while stating he fell to a knee after getting hit.
The trial conversation between Davis and Chahine became a bit contentious on cross-examination, with Chahine questioning Davis on why he didn’t call 911 immediately after the incident or find a police officer at the Douglas County Law Enforcement Center that was located near where he parked. Davis, who said he eventually drove himself to Lawrence Memorial Hospital with help from his phone’s GPS a few hours after the altercation, said he didn’t contact anyone sooner because he “was scared.”
Seiden’s final request during Davis’ time on the stand was having him lift up his eye patch to show his left-eye injury to the jury. David Dyer of Retina Associates in Kansas City later testified that Davis would never see out of his left eye again.
Lawrence detective M.T. Brown also spoke to the case’s extended timeline. He said he was assigned the case on Jan. 17, 2020, but because of COVID-19, he was in a holding pattern to contact many of the witnesses involved because many had left campus.
He said he eventually chose to interview Travieso and Omli at their house by knocking on their door in August 2020, partly because he wanted to contact them outside of KU Athletics’ jurisdiction.
Douglas County Judge Sally Pokorny told jurors late Wednesday that she would meet with both sides’ lawyers later that afternoon to prepare further instructions.
For a second straight day, De Sousa was joined 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 trial is set to resume at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.