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March 08, 2017

As War Machine Trial Proceeds, Things Get a Little Weird

LAS VEGAS—The third day of the trial of Jonathan "War Machine" Koppenhaver concluded this afternoon with the MMA fighter's second victim, adult actress Christy Mack, on the witness stand—but what set the newswires a-twitter was what happened as court was called to order yesterday morning. An unidentified woman entered District Judge Elissa Cadish’s courtroom and handed a small manila envelope to the marshal charged with keeping order, and asked if she could give the package to the defendant. The marshal recognized the woman as one of the pool of potential jurors who had been called for jury duty, but who had not been selected to serve on the Koppenhaver jury, and brought the package to the judge, who opened it in front of prosecutor Jacqueline Bluth and defense attorney Jay Leiderman. "The woman had written a letter and included what appeared to be a handmade blue leather bracelet emblazoned with the word 'grace'," reported David Ferrara of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "While the letter’s contents were not made public, lawyers said the woman wrote that she was praying for Koppenhaver and asked others to pray for him. Someone she was close with was serving time in prison under similar circumstances, she wrote ... Leiderman described the letter as 'private thoughts she wanted to share with Jon,'" and which he described as "very sweet." In the end, Judge Cadish ruled that the woman could not give the package to the defendant in the courtroom—an action Bluth deemed "absolutely inappropriate"—but that she could send it to him at the Clark County Detention Center where he's been incarcerated since his capture more than two years ago. The trial then continued, with Mack's boyfriend Corey Thomas completing his testimony about the injuries he suffered during the attack, and then Bluth called to the stand the police officers who had responded to Mack's 911 call. Apparently, Mack had not had time to give the 911 operator her location during the call, so both policemen met her and Thomas at Sunrise Hospital, where they had been taken for treatment. "Her face was completely swollen," recalled Officer Somalia Shepherd. "Both eyes just puffy closed. Her teeth were missing." The jury was then played a recording of the 911 call that Mack's neighbor Dasha Giraldo had made when she heard Mack, in apparent distress, pounding on her front door—which she said on the tape that she was afraid to open, but told the operator, "I saw a person go over with a blanket and I heard a banging and I see some like blunt marks on her face. She's crying in front of my door. Somebody cut her with a knife." Called to the stand, Giraldo said she now regretted not allowing Mack to come inside her home. "At that time I didn't know who she was," Giraldo said. "Now I feel bad that I didn't open the door for her." Finally, Mack herself took the stand today, recounting the stormy, 15-month relationship she'd had with Koppenhaver, during which he'd occasionally beat her and choke her into unconsciousness. "At first they [the beatings] weren’t that frequent, maybe once a month," she testified, "but as our relationship progressed, the violence progressed." Koppenhaver also threatened to have his Navy SEAL or Hell's Angel buddies attack her if she complained about the beatings to the authorities. Mack also claimed that while they were together, Koppenhaver frequently used steroids in her presence. "I would watch him inject himself," she said. "I knew he would take pills every once in awhile." According to the New York Post, Koppenhaver's face turned red during some of Mack's testimony—perhaps not too surprising since her and Thomas' testimony could send him to prison for life. He faces 34 counts of sexual assault, kidnapping and attempted murder of the pair.

 
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