Reuben Foster's future with 49ers hinges on domestic violence case


San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster is scheduled to appear in Santa Clara County Superior Court on Thursday for his preliminary hearing in front of a judge on three felony charges.

Foster's future with the 49ers will depend on what is discovered in relation to the two domestic violence charges.

“We can promise you guys, if there's someone who ever hits their significant other, girlfriends, some person like that, that person is not going to be on our team,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said April 26 when asked about Foster’s status with the team.

“I feel strongly about that. I know John (Lynch) does. I know our ownership does. That's how we feel about it. Obviously, Reuben is on our team right now, so we're waiting to see how that goes. But, if that's something that we felt he did or ended up happening, you guys will see how we feel.”

Foster has remained away from the 49ers' formal offseason conditioning program while his case goes through the legal process.

Here is what has transpired in the case up to this point:

--On Feb. 11, Foster was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence after an alleged incident with his live-in girlfriend at their Los Gatos home. He was booked into Santa Clara County Main Jail on charges of domestic violence, threats and possession of an assault weapon, according to Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police. Bail was set at $75,000.

--On April 12, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office formally charged Foster with three felonies.

The felony charges were:

--Domestic violence with an allegation he inflicted great bodily harm;
--Forcefully attempting to prevent a victim from reporting a crime;
--Possession of an assault weapon.

The DA’s office reported the alleged incident left the woman “bruised and with a ruptured ear drum.”

The alleged victim stopped a stranger’s car on Shannon Road and called 911. She told responding sheriff’s deputies and Los Gatos police that Foster dragged her by the hair, physically threw her out of the house and punched her in the head eight to 10 times. The alleged victim was treated at a local hospital and released.

Officers found the weapon, a Sig Sauer 516, along with a large capacity magazine during a search of Foster’s home.

Foster was originally charged with possession of a large capacity ammunition magazine. That charge was dropped at the next court hearing.

--On April 25, the alleged victim, Elissa Ennis, 28, recanted her initial statement in the immediate aftermath of the incident. Ennis released a statement through her attorney, Stephanie Rickard.

Ennis’ injuries, according to her statement, were the result of a fight with another woman before the alleged incident with Foster. A videotape of the alleged fight, which Ennis’ attorney claimed proves her injuries were not caused by Foster, was delivered to the DA’s office.

After learning of the fight with the other woman, according to the statement, Foster tried to end his relationship with Ennis.

“She was extremely upset and told him if he broke up with her she would ‘trash his career,’ ” Rickard said. After realizing the severity of the charges against Foster, she went to the DA’s office to recant her initial statement. The DA’s office, apparently believing her first statement was the more accurate version of the events, filed the charges on April 12.

“(Foster) did not strike her, injure her or threaten her,” Rickard said. Ennis said in the statement the charges against Foster were based on her lies.

--On May 8, Foster, through his attorney, Josh Bentley, entered pleas of not guilty. The move expedited the legal process and forced the DA’s office to present its case within 10 days at a preliminary hearing.

--On Thursday, May 17, the preliminary hearing is scheduled to take place. The mini-trial, which is expected to last most of the day, will consist potentially of witnesses being called by the prosecution and defense. Ennis is expected to appear and take the stand under oath, and the judge will likely view the video evidence.

The judge will decide whether there is enough evidence to justify moving forward with a trial. The burden of proof in a California preliminary hearing is “probable cause.” If the case proceeds with any or all charges, a jury trial would be required to begin within 60 days.

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