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Jonathan Majors assault trial: A violent man or a victim?

Jonathan Majors’ trial is coming to an end in Manhattan criminal court, where the actor faces accusations of assaulting his former girlfriend in the backseat of a car.

The defense rested its case Wednesday after more than two days of witness testimony, The Times has confirmed. The “Creed III” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” star — who has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of assault and harassment — will not testify before closing arguments, which are set to begin Thursday morning.

If convicted, Majors faces up to a year of jail time.

Since his arrest in March, the 34-year-old actor’s meteoric rise to Hollywood stardom has come to a halt. He has been without work and reportedly was dropped by his publicity and management firms and cut from several film projects and ad campaigns. And, in October, Disney pulled his prestige drama, “Magazine Dreams,” from its release calendar.

Majors’ defense attorneys have maintained his innocence and have alleged it was his former girlfriend, 30-year-old professional dancer and choreographer Grace Jabbari, who was the aggressor in the incident. Prosecutors have painted the acclaimed actor as an enraged partner with a “violent temper” whose alleged March attack was part of a pattern of physical and emotional abuse.

The competing narratives have come into focus in the courtroom as jurors have heard testimony from Jabbari and several witnesses reviewed footage from the night of the incident and unsealed text messages.

Here are the key moments from court so far:

Clashing claims of ‘control’ and ‘false allegations’ in opening statements

The trial hinges on whether Majors assaulted Jabbari in New York while they were riding in the backseat of a Cadillac Escalade on the evening of March 24. The alleged incident erupted after she read a romantic text message sent to his phone by another woman.

But Majors maintains he is the real victim — at least that’s the message his defense attorneys hope will stick with jurors.

Actor Jonathan Majors’ criminal trial in New York began on Dec. 4.

(Richard Shotwell / Invision/AP)

In her opening statements on Dec. 4, the actor’s attorney, Priya Chaudhry, described the allegations as a revenge plot to “ruin Jonathan Majors and take away everything he has spent his whole life working for.” She referred to the charges as “false allegations” from an embittered romantic partner and invoked Majors’ race — he is Black, Jabbari is white — as a potential reason that he was arrested the day after the confrontation.

Prosecutors have alleged that Majors grabbed Jabbari’s hand so hard during the altercation that he fractured her middle finger, then allegedly twisted her arm behind her back and struck her on the side of the head. She was hospitalized with minor injuries.

Assistant Dist. Atty. Michael Perez described the alleged assault as the culmination of a “cruel and manipulative pattern of psychological and physical abuse” that Majors directed at his partner of two years.

Prior to the trial, overseen by Judge Michael Gaffey, Majors flipped the script on Jabbari to accuse her of battery. In late October, New York police briefly arrested her on suspicion of misdemeanor assault and criminal mischief. The next morning, prosecutors with the Manhattan district attorney’s office had dropped all charges against Jabbari.

During the trial, Perez referenced Majors’ counterclaim and said it was part of his continued “attempts to control and intimidate Ms. Jabbari,” which “extended well after he assaulted her.”

Both the prosecution and the defense continued to offer clashing narratives about the aftermath of the alleged assault.

Once the driver pulled over, Majors fled the scene with his phone as Jabbari chased him “on foot, through traffic, like in a movie,” according to Chaudhry. Unable to find Majors, she met three strangers and followed them to a Manhattan night club, where she spent the next few hours drinking and dancing, the defense attorney said.

Meanwhile, the prosecution said Majors picked Jabbari up and threw her inside the car on multiple occasions after the driver pulled over. Perez said she accepted the invitation of bystanders in hopes of “temporarily blocking out” the abuse committed by Majors. She returned home after a few hours at the nightclub, took two sleeping pills and fell asleep on the floor of her bathroom, he said.

Jabbari allegedly awoke the next morning to Majors standing over her with police officers. Though Perez said she was initially reluctant to report the abuse “because of how he’s manipulated her in the past and trained her to stay silent,” she soon told police about the alleged assault, leading to the arrest of Majors.

Images of a crumbling relationship come to light

Even before Majors and Jabbari hopped into the backseat of the car, their relationship had been in disarray, Jabbari recalled from the witness stand during emotional testimony that lasted three days.

She described Majors as a “kind and loving” partner who increasingly became unable to control his “violent temper.” She said he hurled household objects at walls and often threatened to take his own life, at times referring to himself as a “monster.”

A woman with long blond hair in a plaid coat leaves a building

Professional dancer and choreographer Grace Jabbari accused her former boyfriend Jonathan Majors of domestic violence.

(Bebeto Matthews / Associated Press)

“It felt like I was walking around on eggshells,” said Jabbari, who is from the United Kingdom. “I had to be perfect.”

In the summer of 2022 — as Majors prepared to play a bodybuilder in “Magazine Dreams,” which required strict diet and exercise regimens — Majors became “full of rage and aggression” without explanation, Jabbari testified.

During one argument in their West Hollywood home, she recalled Majors throwing objects that left dents in the walls and sent her ducking for cover. A few months later, while filming in England, Majors allegedly blew up at Jabbari after she came home from a bar “tipsy” with a friend.

In an audio recording played in court, and released to the media Wednesday along with other pieces of evidence, Majors can be heard berating his girlfriend for not living up to the standards set by spouses of other famous men, notably Coretta Scott King and Michelle Obama.

“I’m a great man. A great man!” Majors declared. “There needs to be a great woman who makes sacrifices.”

On her second day of testimony, Jabbari recounted the “substantial” pain she suffered after Majors allegedly assaulted her in the backseat of the car. She documented the aftermath by snapping photos of her injuries — which included a bruised finger and reddened ear — and texted them to a friend. Prosecutors showed the photos to the Manhattan jury.

An emotional Jabbari testified that the alleged attack left her hair caked with blood, in addition to giving her a swollen ear and bruised finger.

“When I was trying to sleep, I was very aware that I couldn’t lie on the right side of my head,” she said. “It was an everything-hurts situation.”

She continued: “I wanted him to know that I wasn’t trying to get him in trouble … In the past, when I would put the blame on me it was a solution for the both of us.”

Jabbari also worried about Majors’ treatment by law enforcement officials, telling a jury that he had warned her “about not trusting the police” and “what they would do to him as a Black man, and I didn’t want to put him in that situation.”

The actor’s alleged control over Jabbari came into question again when an unsealed text conversation between the former partners was presented in court with the judge’s permission. Text messages from September 2022 revealed that Majors asked Jabbari to avoid seeking medical attention after an altercation left her with a head injury. He warned she had “no perspective of what could happen” if news of the fight went public.

“They will ask you questions, and as I don’t think you actually protect us, it could lead to an investigation even if you do lie and they suspect something,” said Majors’ text to Jabbari, which was read aloud in court. In response, Jabbari texted Majors that she would tell doctors she bumped her head.

“Why would I tell them what really happened when it’s clear I want to be with you?” she replied.

Jonathan Majors in a grey suit next to a glass door entering a court room surrounded people

Jonathan Majors carries a Bible with him as he enters the court for his domestic violence trial.

(Bebeto Matthews / Associated Press)

Grainy footage of the dispute, also released Wednesday, played a key role in defense attorney Chaudhry’s cross-examination of Jabbari, who broke down in tears multiple times while revisiting the alleged March assault.

“I really don’t want to watch it again,” Jabbari said. “This is going to make me sick.”

The actor’s legal team played zoomed-in footage of Majors shoving his ex-girlfriend into the chauffeured Escalade. The defense argued that the video clashed with Jabbari’s testimony that her head slammed into the door frame when she was thrown into the car. Jabbari fired back at the accusations, noting “there were multiple pushes, multiple injuries.”

The defense also presented footage of Jabbari dancing and drinking in a New York club with a group of strangers after the incident. Video showed the dancer using the hand she claimed Majors injured for tasks such as lifting a champagne glass, going through her purse and brushing her hair behind her ear. Jabbari defended her actions, arguing that she “wasn’t focusing on pain.”

She added: “I was just trying to have a nice time.”

Body-camera footage presented in court also showed that Jabbari told police officers, who responded to Majors’ 911 call on March 25, that she and the actor got into a fight but that she could not recall the cause of her injuries.

Jabbari, who said she was trying to protect the star, responded during her cross-examination that “things started coming back to me when I calmed down and allowed myself to not worry about him.”

The dispute and aftermath retold in uncertain witness testimonies

A variety of witnesses — ranging from the doctor who treated Jabbari’s injuries to the officers present for Majors’ arrest in March — testified during the second week of the high-profile trial. None of them, however, made a particularly strong case for Jabbari or Majors, as previously touted by the defense and prosecution.

Naveed Sarwar, the livery cab driver who chauffeured Majors and Jabbari the night of their March 2023 dispute, was one of the witnesses to present his account on Monday. Speaking through an Urdu interpreter, Sarwar claimed that Majors was “not doing anything” in the car and initially described Jabbari as the primary aggressor.

“She was doing everything … the girl became very angry,” he testified, as jurors watched footage of the car stopping.

The driver said that he was looking ahead at the road during the dispute and described Jabbari and Majors’ interactions based on what they sounded like to him. While Sarwar said he “had the feeling the girl had hit the boy,” Gaffey urged him to “only testify to what [was] happening, not what you think happened.”

Sarwar reportedly received that reminder multiple times. Ultimately, Sarwar said he felt “something was going on in the back seat” and Majors was “trying to throw [Jabbari] in the car” after her efforts to follow him out. They both eventually left on foot, he said. Sarwar conceded he did not see an exchange of physical violence and never saw blood.

Dr. William Chiang, an attending physician at Bellevue Hospital, was also called to the stand reportedly to provide more details about the care Jabbari received for her injuries. Chiang confirmed to the court that Jabbari’s injuries were generally consistent with her account of the alleged assault. During cross-examination, however, Chiang told the defense that the injury to Jabbari’s finger was “inconsistent” with someone twisting it. He added that Jabbari does not have a drinking problem.

The jury also heard from Chloe Zoller and Max Manning, two of the three people who met Jabbari after her fight with Majors. Zoller recalled sitting down with Jabbari and holding a piece of ice to soothe Jabbari’s injured finger. When pressed by the defense, Zoller — who said she was “intoxicated” even before reaching the club and meeting Jabbari — said she could not remember which finger she iced, Business Insider reported. She told Majors’ attorney Seth Zuckerman and prosecutor Perez she did not observe marks on Jabbari’s face, ear or finger and that she did not find blood on her clothes after hugging Jabbari.

Additional witnesses included Jabbari’s talent agent Ben Totty, social worker Josie Torielli, and New York Police Officer Erik Lucero and Sgt. Bryan Hanson, who responded to the 911 call that led to Majors’ arrest.

Hanson, who determined that Majors should be arrested in March, said he found a “small amount of blood on a comforter on the bed,” Variety reported. He also said he did not observe injuries on the actor.

The defense rested its case Wednesday after one day of testimony from three of its witnesses.

NYPD Det. Ronnie Mejia, who arrested Jabbari in the counterclaim filed by Majors, was the first defense witness called to the stand. The court also heard from Tammy Weiner, an emergency medical attending physician, who suggested Jabbari’s injuries could have taken place hours after the apparent fight in the car; and Majors’ agent, Elan Ruspoli, who recalled getting a call from the actor in March out of concern that he couldn’t get into his locked bedroom where Jabbari was located.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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