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Fighter War Machine charged with more felonies

  • Article by: KEN RITTER
  • Associated Press
  • September 3, 2014 - 3:20 PM

LAS VEGAS — A mixed martial arts fighter known as War Machine was hit Wednesday with attempted murder, sexual assault and other new charges in Las Vegas in a case that prosecutors said stemmed from attacks on his ex-girlfriend.

The defendant, whose birth name is Jonathan Paul Koppenhaver, stood shackled and flanked by two police officers during a brief initial court appearance.

Koppenhaver was arrested Aug. 15 after his ex-girlfriend, adult film actress Christy Mack, posted Twitter photos of herself showing injuries she said she received when Koppenhaver attacked her a week earlier in Las Vegas.

Koppenhaver, 32, was extradited to Nevada from the Los Angeles suburb of Simi Valley, California, where he was initially sought on a warrant involving seven charges, including battery, assault, coercion and lewdness.

Koppenhaver, who legally changed his name to War Machine in 2008, told the judge on Wednesday that he understood the charges and would use the name Koppenhaver in court. He wasn't asked to enter a plea.

"I think the public will understand that War Machine's a character," Koppenhaver's lawyer Brandon Sua said outside court. "He is controversial and people need to understand where to draw that line from his character as War Machine and a person as Jon Koppenhaver, because that's who he is."

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Melanie Andress-Tobiasson ordered Koppenhaver held without bail pending a preliminary hearing Oct. 17.

Sua said he and attorneys Matthew Terry and Brian Watkins intend to fight the charges that also include burglary, battery constituting domestic violence, sexually motivated coercion and witness tampering.

Koppenhaver is accused of using a knife during some of the incidents that date back to May 2013.

Sua previously said Koppenhaver was defending himself on Aug. 8 during an incident involving Mack and her friend, Corey Thomas, at Mack's home.

Police said Thomas suffered broken bones in his face. Mack, 23, who is referred to in court documents as Christine Mackinday, was hospitalized for several days with a lacerated liver, facial bruises and fractures, and missing teeth.

She is undergoing surgical procedures to repair facial and oral injuries, prosecutor Jacqueline Bluth said.

The Associated Press usually does not identify alleged victims of sex assault. Mack agreed to allow the AP to use her name in the case against Koppenhaver.

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said he met with Mack before the additional charges were filed.

"When this case was investigated further we learned there were additional incidents of criminal conduct," Wolfson said. "She's ready to testify. She's ready to come into court and tell the truth and tell what happened."

Koppenhaver, who also has acted in porn productions, was dropped by his fight promoter, Bellator MMA, after Mack's accusations were made public.

He made his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut in 2007 and lost his only pay-per-view bout in 2008.

He had a 14-5 record as a welterweight and last fought in October 2013.

© 2014 Star Tribune