The domestic assault trial of Jonathan Majors got underway in Manhattan on Monday with opening statements painting two very different pictures of the March 25 incident: While prosecutors sought to paint the Marvel actor as a serial abuser and manipulator who violently attacked his now-ex girlfriend, defense attorneys said she lost control and attacked him that night upon discovering that he had been unfaithful.
What led to the altercation was not in dispute, however: The couple ended the two-year relationship that night after the accuser, Grace Jabbari, saw a text message on his phone from another woman saying “Wish I was kissing you right now.”
“This is a case about the end of a relationship, not about a crime, at least not one that Mr. Majors committed,” his attorney, Priya Chaudhry, told the jury of three men and three women who were seated last week.
According to the police report, after the two fought on March 25 both inside and outside their chauffered Cadillac Escalade in Chinatown, he checked into a hotel while she went out partying with three strangers she’d met on the street. The following morning, Majors found Jabbari in the closet of his Chelsea apartment – and called police out of concern for her wellbeing, an encounter which resulted in his arrest.
Before the jury was brought in, lawyers on both sides agreed to dismiss four of the eight counts against Majors, consolidating them into the remaining four, which include misdemeanor assault, aggravated harassment and harassment. He faces up to a year in jail if convicted.
But that’s where the agreement ended, as prosecutor Michael Perez opened the trial by describing for jurors behavior patterns and details that led up to the volcanic breakup of what had been “a serious relationship” that began on the 2021 set of “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” Perez said Majors was controlling and manipulative, carrying out “psychological abuse” that included “a cool and manipulative pattern” as their relationship soured and his “true self emerged.”
Perez said Majors often snapped at Jabbari, strategically withheld affection and threatened suicide to control her, at one point telling her she “needs to live up to standards of Coretta Scott King and Michelle Obama” and calling himself “a great man,” according to multiple media reports.
Perez said when Jabbari saw the text message during the March 25 car ride, she grabbed the phone – which sparked his violent reaction, including prying her fingers away from the device, twisting her arm and striking her right ear. After they parted ways, he sent her a text message ending the relationship.
But Chaudry characterized the incident differently, saying she was the aggressor that night, clawing, scratching and tearing at his coat as she tried to prevent him from leaving. She said Jabbari “made these false allegations to ruin Jonathan Majors and to take away everything he had spent his whole life working for” out of “revenge.”
She noted that Jabbari wound up partying with the strangers she met in the street and appeared unhurt in images and video captured that night. She also said Majors “scooped” her back into the vehicle out of fear for her safety – as opposed to her allegations that he at one point violently threw her back into the car.
Chaudry said after Majors got away from a pursuing Jabbari, she called his phone 32 times before returning to his apartment and taking sleeping pills.
Majors returned to court Monday holding hands with his new girlfriend, the actress Meagan Good, and was once again holding a Bible and a binder.
Witness testimony was expected to begin Monday afternoon, and the trial could last up to two weeks.