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Opening statements begin in trial over airline rage

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The delay of John Davis' trip to Disney World was in its third hour and tempers were running short.

Growing more irritable by the minute, passengers in a stuffy, crowded waiting area at Newark International Airport peppered Continental Airlines ticket agents with questions, cursing while their traveling partners waited, sprawled out on the floor.

Davis, 29, of Fredericksburg, Va., finally blew, prosecutors said, when ticket agent Angelo Sottile got in his way after he tried to follow his 2-year-old daughter down an empty jetway.

Davis picked up Sottile and dropped him head first on the floor, prosecutors say, breaking his neck. Davis said that Sottile, who worked a night job at Continental and a day job at the post office in Kearny, attacked him.

Opening statements in Davis' aggravated assault trial were to begin Monday in a case that highlights both sides of the debate on air rage, where passengers frustrated by delays or airline employees lash out and become violent.