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Jury deliberations begin in the trial of actor Jonathan Majors

Actor Jonathan Majors arrives at court for his domestic abuse trial, on Dec. 5, 2023, in New York.
Bebeto Matthews
Actor Jonathan Majors arrives at court for his domestic abuse trial, on Dec. 5, 2023, in New York.

The defense and prosecutors have rested their cases in the Manhattan criminal trial of actor Jonathan Majors, who is accused of assaulting and harassing his now ex-girlfriend, Grace Jabbari.

Prosecutors say Majors attacked Jabbari in the back of a car in Manhattan in March. Majors was arrested by NYPD officers who responded to a call and found Jabbari with cuts, bruises, and a broken finger. The two had argued after Jabbari saw a text Majors received from another woman.

Majors is charged with assault in the third degree with intent to cause physical injury, assault in the third degree recklessly causing physical injury, aggravated harassment in the second degree and harassment in the second degree.

During the trial, the jury saw and heard prosecutors' evidence that well before the March incident, Majors had threatened to kill himself in a series of text messages sent in Sept. 2022, adding: "I'm a monster. A horrible man. Not capable of love." The texts between Majors and Jabbari discussed a prior incident in which Jabbari suffered head injuries.

The jury also heard an audio clip of an argument the then-couple had the same month, in which Majors told Jabbari that she needed to act more like Coretta Scott King and Michelle Obama if they were to remain together. "I'm a great man, a great man," Majors says in the audio. "I am doing great things, not just for me but for my culture and the world," adding that she would need to "make sacrifices" for him.

"This is not a she said-he said argument," Galloway said during closing. "This is she said-plus," referring to evidence presented during the trial.

During the trial, defense lawyer Priya Chaudhry had argued that Jabbari sought retribution against Majors as their relationship failed, pointing to the fact that Jabbari went out to a club after she reportedly discovered an infidelity and the two had their alleged altercation. "She was revenge partying and charging champagne to the man she's angry with," Chaudhry said during her closing argument.

During her closing, prosecutor Kelli Galaway argued that Jabbari had long tried to protect Majors from any legal or career repercussions, and as a result did not go to authorities or seek medical attention when he was allegedly violent towards her. During their relationship, Galaway said, Jabbari felt she was "personally responsible for his well-being."

Before he was charged, Majors had been a rising Hollywood star. This spring, he had starred in the film Creed III, and was cast to star as Kang the Conqueror in an upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. (To build up his character, Majors appeared earlier this year in the film Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania as well as Season Two of the Disney+ show Loki.)

If convicted, Majors faces up to a year in prison. In the courtroom Thursday, Majors, wearing a dark suit, sat mostly quietly during closing arguments, with his head hung low while Galaway spoke.

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Anastasia Tsioulcas is a correspondent on NPR's Culture desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including the trial and conviction of former R&B superstar R. Kelly; backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; and gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards.