UPDATED: 9:30 a.m. ET, Dec. 5
A prosecutor from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in Jonathan Majors’ domestic violence trial promised in opening statements Monday to provide damning audio footage that will show the movie star was a controlling and physically imposing boyfriend who assaulted his ex-girlfriend, Grace Jabbari, before his arrest in March as part of a larger pattern of abuse.
Assistant District Attorney Michael Perez claimed that Majors “demanded total compliance” from Jabbari and even at one point during their relationship said she needed to be more like Coretta Scott King and Michelle Obama, the Associated Press reported. Jabbari is white.
Majors’ attorney described Jabbari as a jealous ex eager to exact revenge after the actor broke up with her in an effort to “ruin Jonathan Majors and take away everything he has spent his whole life working for.”
It was unclear what evidence the prosecution has to back up its case, but Jabbari is expected to testify in the trial, which could last up to two weeks. It is unclear whether Majors will testify.
Opening statements were finally set for Monday, Dec. 4, in the domestic violence trial in which movie star Jonathan Majors is accused of assaulting his former girlfriend in a case that has rocked Hollywood and placed an emphasis on the topic of race.
Majors’ defense attorney will finally get a chance to plead her case in a court of law against prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office following months of strategic appeals to the court of public opinion since the actor’s high-profile arrest for allegedly striking Grace Jabbari back in March.
Priya Chaudhry, Majors’ attorney, has maintained her client’s innocence and alleged police bias, claiming that the officers present failed to investigate the alleged assault properly and coached Jabbari to accuse the actor of assault. Chaudhry has also claimed to have provided video footage and witness testimonies supporting Majors’ innocence. In addition, Chaudhry said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office tends to “weaponize accusations where a Black man is accused by a white woman.”
Jabbari is white.
Jury selection in the trial began last week and was completed on Friday.
If convicted, Majors faces up to a year in jail.
Check back for frequent updates as the trial moves forward.
In the meantime, Majors has been an upstanding citizen including, once, notably as a good Samaritan after being shown on video purportedly breaking up a high school fight in footage that went viral and invited suspicion of being staged to produce positive press coverage for the actor.
Majors has also found love with actress Meagan Good, who has faithfully been by the actor’s side during his court dates leading up to the trial.
With that as the backdrop for the trial, here’s everything else you need to know as opening statements are set to begin:
What is Majors accused of doing?
On March 25, the NYPD arrested Majors outside of his Chelsea apartment.
He and Jabbari allegedly got into a dispute as they were inside a cab riding to Manhattan from Brooklyn. Chaudhry claims Jabbari “was attempting to steal” Majors’ phone when the incident occurred. Chaudhry filed legal documents in Manhattan stating that the cab driver witnessed Jabbari assault the actor around 1 a.m., hours before he was arrested.
After the incident, Jabbari allegedly told police that she had suffered a broken finger and a laceration behind her ear, but Chaudhry said there is video footage to prove that the woman’s statement was “a complete lie.” Security footage obtained by TMZ showed the woman in a nightclub shortly after the incident with Majors using her right hand normally — the same hand that she claimed Majors injured before they parted ways earlier in the night.
The opinion of a forensic medical expert has also been touted by Chaudhry as another way to help put an end to claims of domestic assault against Majors, who will be able to file a civil suit against Jabbari if he is found innocent.
In late March, Chaudhry released a screenshot of a text message to Majors in which Jabbari appeared to take the blame for the incident. She allegedly assured the actor that she did not tell the police she was attacked.
“Please let me know you’re okay when you get this,” she allegedly wrote in the texts. “They assured me that you won’t be charged.”
Jabbari allegedly continued: “They said they had to arrest you as protocol when they saw the injuries on me and they knew we had a fight. I’m so angry that they did. And I’m sorry you’re in this position.”
On April 19, Variety reported that more women have come forward with allegations of abuse against Majors. They are cooperating with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
In late October, Jabbari was arrested and charged with misdemeanor counts of assault and criminal mischief before Bragg’s office said it “declined to prosecute the case against Grace Jabbari because it lacks prosecutorial merit.”
Even before the surprise arrest of Majors, people in the movie industry were reportedly calling the actor an abuser. Those unfounded accusations were trumpeted even louder shortly after Majors’ arrest in a series of tweets that have since been deleted.
Since the arrest, Majors has been dropped by his reps at Lede and his management company, Entertainment 360. The fate of his future in Hollywood is unclear.
Chaudhry’s past high-profile cases
Chaudhry is described on her website as an award-winning attorney who is “[n]ationally recognized as a premier criminal trial lawyer.” It also says she has worked “over 40 jury trials in over 20 years of practice in some of the nation’s most complicated and high-profile criminal cases.”
Most recently, just last month Chaudhry secured the full acquittal of another high-profile Black male client accused of a violent crime in New York City. Chaudhry touted the not-guilty verdict for Adam Foss, a former Boston prosecutor and prominent criminal justice-reform advocate charged in 2017 with allegedly raping and assaulting a 25-year-old woman. In doing so, Chaudhry claimed Bragg “ignored” evidence that should have precluded any criminal charges against Foss – claims similar to those she’s made about the district attorney’s office’s case against Majors.
In a pair of separate statements emailed to NewsOne, Chaudhry has also questioned the ethics of Braggs’ office and cited an “eagerness” to bring hasty criminal charges — particularly when a Black man is accused of a violent crime by a white woman.
“Furthermore, there is a concerning trend within the Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s office to weaponize accusations where a Black man is accused by a white woman, casting aside the need for robust evidence in favor of narrative-driven prosecutions,” Chaudhry said. “This represents a misapplication of justice, fueled by societal biases that have no place in a system pledged to fairness and equality.”
Chaudhry went on to accuse Braggs’ office of having “strayed from its mission to impartially uphold the law. Instead, it has drifted toward a path of character assassination and publicity-driven prosecution.”
Other high-profile cases in which Chaudhry was the defense attorney produced mixed results.
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