LAS VEGAS — A jury will decide whether a former mixed martial artist named War Machine tried to kill his pornography actress ex-girlfriend and her friend after letting himself in with a key and finding them sleeping at her Las Vegas home, a Nevada judge decided Wednesday.
Jonathan Paul Koppenhaver stood in an orange jail jump suit and shackles and occasionally became agitated while defense attorney Brandon Sua argued that evidence didn't support two attempted murder, one burglary and one of several sexual assault charges among the 34 felony counts.
Clark County District Court Judge Elissa Cadish let all charges stand.
"I find that there is slight or marginal evidence to support these counts proceeding in this court," the judge said. "We are set for trial at the end of September."
Koppenhaver at one point was silenced by a uniformed court officer, and another time blurted out, "I want to do it," when Sua told Cadish that his client wants to take a lie-detector test.
The judge said no. Polygraph test results aren't admissible in court.
Cadish also rejected Sua's request to challenge Nevada's rape shield law and let the jury hear evidence of prior consensual sexual relations between Koppenhaver and his alleged victim, ex-girlfriend Christy Mack.
The Associated Press usually doesn't identify alleged victims of sexual assault, but Mack agreed to let her name be made public. She didn't attend Koppenhaver's court appearance Wednesday, and declined through a spokesman to comment.
Outside court, Sua said he'll continue to fight the charges, and said Koppenhaver intends to testify at trial.
"He'll take full responsibility for his actions," Sua said. "But he's sick of the lies. He wants people to know the truth."
Koppenhaver, 33, is accused of beating and sexually assaulting Mack, 24, whose legal name is Christine Mackinday.
Koppenhaver has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, battery and coercion charges involving Mack.
He is accused of attacking her friend Corey Thomas with several choke-holds before letting Thomas leave Mack's home.
He pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, battery, strangulation and dissuading a victim from reporting a crime.
Sua told the judge on Wednesday that as a trained professional fighter, Koppenhaver knows how to apply a choke-hold and didn't intend to kill Thomas before letting him go.
Thomas testified at a preliminary hearing in November that Koppenhaver broke his nose and dislocated his shoulder before releasing him with a warning that if he went to the police, Koppenhaver would hurt him.
Cadish conceded that it could be difficult to prove attempted murder in Thomas' case, but said testimony and evidence supported putting the charge before a jury.
Koppenhaver could face life in prison if he's convicted of the most serious charges.
Mack testified in November that she suffered injuries including a broken nose, missing teeth, fractured eye socket, leg injuries and a lacerated liver.
She testified that Koppenhaver sliced her wigs and inserted a knife in her ear while threatening to kill her, groped and raped her, and kicked her in the ribs. She said she awoke from unconsciousness curled on the floor of her bathroom.
The knife broke, and Mack testified she fled her house and ran naked and bleeding to neighbors' homes after she thought she heard Koppenhaver rummaging through drawers in her kitchen for another knife.