Ohio domestic violence trial starts for Steelers' Davenport

| Saturday, April 5, 2008

Steelers running back Najeh Davenport went on trial Friday in connection with an October domestic violence incident stemming from a child custody dispute.

The trial in Cleveland Municipal Courts is expected last several days, court officials said.

Davenport, 29, was charged in connection with an Oct. 4 child custody dispute with Anita Person, 27, of Cleveland, the mother of their son, 5. Davenport faces child endangerment and unlawful restraint charges.

Person told police Davenport punched and choked her when she removed their son from his vehicle because he threatened to not return the child. Davenport called police following the altercation and told them he was supposed to have his son for the weekend, but Person took the child away from him.

A threat to a potential witness who spoke to the media prior to the trial prompted the judge to issue an order prohibiting news organizations from showing the faces of four witnesses who are expected to testify, according to a spokesman for Cleveland Municipal Courts.

The Steelers declined comment on the case.

Davenport is the fourth Steelers player since 2006 to be accused of domestic violence.

Simple assault and criminal mischief charges were dropped Thursday against linebacker James Harrison, 29, when the judge was notified that he completed an anger management program, was a first-time offender and had no history of violent crime.

On March 28, a judge ordered former wide receiver Cedrick Wilson to undergo anger management counseling when he was charged with assaulting his girlfriend in a restaurant. The day after the arrest, the Steelers terminated his contract.

In 2006, wide receiver Santonio Holmes was charged with domestic violence and assault after an altercation with his girlfriend. A judge dismissed the case after Holmes' lawyer assured him he was in counseling.

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