Powerful testimony from 8-year-old who watched her father die

7:35 PM, Nov 16, 2012   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida - Dressed in pigtails, a headband, and a holding a stuffed bunny named Anika, Danielle James took the stand to testify in what must have been an incredibly difficult and emotional memory for her.

The day her father was killed in front of her.

Danielle, the daughter of an Air Force veteran who was killed on a Valrico basketball court two years ago, took the stand in the skateboarder trial for just 15 minutes total, only five of which she was actually talking.  The child talked about witnessing a deadly argument two years ago as her 41-year-old father, David James, was killed in front of her.

However, Danielle testified without the defendant, Trevor Dooley, in the room.  Instead, her testimony was seen on a closed-circuit television.  She says she is afraid to face him after what she witnessed.

She told jurors, "He was getting louder," when talking about her father as he was arguing with Dooley. "He tried to get [Trevor Dooley] to come back."

The attorney asked her, "Did he walk after him or run after him?"

"He walked fast," she answered, referring to her father.

The little girl testified on behalf of the defense and was considered a very strong witness, since she outlined a scenario where her father was the one going after Dooley.

In fact, she told attorneys that she heard Dooley saying, "I don't want to fight."  She then told lawyers that her father continued to pursue Dooley, even after the 71-year-old "turned his back" and walked over to his home.

The trial will continue on Monday, and there is a strong possibility that Dooley will take the stand in his own defense. Judge Ashley Moody said she wanted the trial wrapped up by Monday.

Dooley, a 71-year-old part-time bus driver, is on trial for aggravated manslaughter with a firearm.

Dooley got into a fight with David James over a skateboarder who was practicing on the same basketball court where James was playing with his daughter, Danielle.  Dooley told the teenager skateboarder, Spencer Arthur, to get off the court.

James defended the teen, and the two men began fighting, then wrestling on the ground. Seconds later, David James was dead, shot by the 71-year-old.

Dooley says he was simply defending himself and that James, twice his size, was choking him. Dooley said he had no choice but to fire the gun that he had taken out of his right pocket.

Dooley's doctors took the stand one by one Friday morning as defense witnesses, painting a picture for the jury of a frail man with multiple physical problems, someone who would never intentionally look for a fight with a young veteran twice his size.

Dooley faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted. 

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