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March 16, 2017

War Machine Trial Ends Without Koppenhaver's Testimony

LAS VEGAS—The trial of Jonathan "War Machine" Koppenhaver ended Wednesday evening, with the prosecution and defense scheduled to deliver their closing arguments today, after which District Judge Elissa Cadish will charge the jury on the law that they must consider during their deliberations. The jury is expected to begin deliberations sometime in the late morning. As one of its final witnesses, defense attorney Jay Liederman called to the witness stand Dr. Stephen Holper, an expert in "pain management," who said he had reviewed a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) performed on Koppenhaver approximately one week ago, which would have been after his trial had already begun, which the physician said revealed traumatic brain injury which left a frontal lobe lesion in Koppenhaver's brain. "If you have trauma to the frontal lobe, you could perhaps see something that's horrific and it wouldn't bother you," Dr. Holper told the jury. Though that phrasing would seem to suggest that the alleged injuries would have made Koppenhaver more placid than normal, Dr. Holper testified to almost the exact opposite: that a frontal lobe lesion on his brain that could cause "hyper-sexual" and "very aggressive" behavior, though the doctor couched that opinion by noting that, "Everything I say is in general. It doesn’t mean specifically him." Liederman nonetheless pressed the doctor to comment on how the defendant's use of steroids, anti-depressants and/or amphetamines might have affected a brain injured in the way the doctor described. "You just do things," came the reply. "Some things you don't ever think about. You just do it." However, under cross-examination by prosecutor Jacqueline Bluth, Dr. Holper had trouble pointing to the exact area of the brain scan where he said the lesions existed, though he affirmed that he himself could see them. "Ok, so then I'll zoom in," Bluth said, magnifying the image of the scan on the courtroom monitor. "Do you see that lesion? I don't see anything there." (The doctor's response, if any, was not reported.) The final defense witness was Chad Collins, who had been Christy Mack's mother's boyfriend at the time of Koppenhaver's attack on Mack, and was living with the mother when Mack and Koppenhaver visited. Testifying under protest, Collins stated that he never saw Koppenhaver abuse Mack, but later, under cross-examination, he admitted that he wasn't at the Mackinday residence that often. "I was always gone," he said. "I was pretty much only home to sleep." As expected, Koppenhaver himself did not testify, so in rebuttal, the prosecution called Dr. James Walker, the emergency room doctor who had treated Mack for her injuries on the night of the attack. Mack had presented with a multitude of injuries, including a broken nose, broken bones around her eye socket, broken and missing teeth, a fractured rib and a lacerated liver. As to the liver damage, Dr. Walker testified that, "This is the first time in my career I’ve seen [such an injury] not in a car accident, where there’s tremendous force involved. This is the first time I’ve seen one out of that context." Closing arguments will take place this afternoon. Koppenhaver faces a total of 34 criminal counts, a full list of which can be found here. If convicted on the more serious charges of attempted murder with the use of a deadly weapon, kidnapping resulting in substantial bodily harm and sexual assault, he could receive a sentence of life in prison. Pictured: Corey Thomas and Christy Mack on the night they were attacked.

 
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