MMA Fighter War Machine Convicted of Kidnapping, Sexual Assault
A Las Vegas jury on Monday found a former mixed martial arts fighter known as War Machine guilty of kidnapping and sexually assaulting his porn actress ex-girlfriend.
Jurors deadlocked on two attempted-murder charges against Jonathan Paul Koppenhaver, but convicted him of a total of 29 counts. He could face up to life in prison.
Koppenhaver, 35, went by his birth name during the two-week trial but had legally changed it to War Machine during his 19-fight MMA career.
Defense attorney Jay Leiderman this week conceded Koppenhaver's guilt on eight lesser domestic battery charges, including punching and injuring ex-girlfriend Christy Mack. Koppenhaver also was charged with threatening her male friend Corey Thomas when he found them together in bed in 2014.
"He did it. He used fists to punch the face," Leiderman said Thursday of the attacks on Mack.
The Associated Press normally does not identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault but Mack gave permission to use her name.
In closing arguments, Leiderman suggested that the jury never learned many things about the August 2014 attack at Mack's home, including Koppenhaver's state of mind, and therefore could not know if he intended to commit a crime.
The defense attorney characterized Koppenhaver as a "raging bull" with brain injuries from his fighting career and emotions inflamed by the use of steroids and non-prescription stimulant and antidepressant drugs that combined could have caused mood swings and violence that Leiderman termed "roid rage."
Mack, 24, spent eight hours on the witness stand, crying as she said she was beaten and raped by Koppenhaver in the months before the attack on her and Thomas.
"'Now I have to kill you because people saw you trying to escape,'" she recalled Koppenhaver saying after an incident sparked by his dislike of a wig and decorative teeth she wore. "'Now I have to take you out to the desert and kill you.'"
Thomas, a digital media company owner, testified that he dated Mack for two months before Koppenhaver arrived at her home unexpectedly, flipped on the bedroom lights and set upon him on the bed with rapid-fire punches and choking.
Thomas testified that he suffered a broken nose, dislocated shoulder, scrapes, bruises and bite marks. The beating stopped, he said, when he asked Koppenhaver if his "end game" was going to be to kill him or let him go.
Mack testified that Koppenhaver attacked her after Thomas left. The jury saw photos of Mack with a broken nose, missing teeth, fractured eye socket and leg injuries. She also suffered a lacerated liver.
Prosecutors played a recording of a 911 call Mack placed with muffled sounds of a struggle and screams. They said Koppenhaver was attacking Thomas at the time.
Mack said she fled her home and ran bleeding to neighbors when Koppenhaver went to the kitchen to fetch a knife.
Koppenhaver was arrested a week later in the Los Angeles suburb of Simi Valley. Prosecutors Rob Stephens and Jacqueline Bluth said he fled because he knew he was guilty.
The former fighter has been in custody in Nevada since then. He has been serving a 1½- to four-year sentence for violating his probation on a 2009 conviction for attempted battery involving a 21-year-old woman.
Koppenhaver made his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut in 2007. He had a 14-5 record as a welterweight. His final fight was in 2013.
He was dropped by his fight promoter and his clothing line after Mack's accusations became public.
Article by Sports Illustrated
What are your thoughts on this sensitive subject?
Leave your comments in the box below.