Judge denies Jonathan Majors' motion to set aside conviction ahead of sentencing

ByAaron Katersky and Meredith Deliso ABCNews logo
Wednesday, April 3, 2024

A Manhattan criminal court judge has denied Jonathan Majors' motion to set aside his conviction in his domestic violence case.

The actor's sentencing will move forward Monday as scheduled.

A jury found Majors, 34, guilty of assaulting and harassing his then-girlfriend, Grace Jabbari.

He was convicted of one count of misdemeanor third-degree assault and one count of second-degree harassment, but acquitted of two other counts of assault and aggravated harassment in a split verdict following a trial in December 2023.

Majors faces up to a year in jail on the two counts.

The charges stemmed from a March 2023 altercation with Jabbari in a for-hire SUV in New York City that began after Jabbari saw a text message from another woman on Majors' phone, according to testimony from the trial. Jabbari testified that she tried to grab his phone after seeing a message pop up saying, "I wish I was kissing you."

She described in court Majors pulling her right hand behind her back while holding the phone in her left.

"It just felt like he was twisting my arm and my hand and trying to make me feel pain," she said in court.

In denying Majors' attempt to set aside his conviction Judge Michael Gaffey said "there was a reasonable view of the evidence to support that Defendant acted recklessly" during a March 2023 encounter with Jabbari in the backseat of an SUV.

The judge said reckless assault was an "alternate theory" to the original charge of intentional assault.

Jabbari said Majors tried to pry his phone out of her hands after she grabbed it because he received a text message from another woman. She said he yanked and twisted her arm and struck the side of her head, causing her to suffer a broken finger and a lacerated ear.

"Thus, the jury reasonably could have concluded that Defendant recklessly caused physical injury to Ms. Jabbari during this 'rapidly unfolding' struggle over the phone," Gaffey wrote.

The judge also said the evidence was sufficient to establish Majors' guilt of harassment, pointing to surveillance video that showed Majors tossing Jabbari back into the SUV before he ran off.

"Such evidence clearly established that Defendant subjected Ms. Jabbari to physical contact, and the jury reasonably could have inferred his intent from the conduct and surrounding circumstances," the judge wrote.

Majors' attorney, Priya Chaudhry, said in a statement to ABC News following the judge's decision Wednesday that "Jonathan feels disappointed by the outcome of the motion, yet he upholds respect for the process."

"He continues to draw strength from his friends, fans, family, and dogs, harnessing his art and creativity. As he eagerly anticipates closing this chapter, he looks forward to redirecting his time and energy fully toward his family and his art," Chaudhry said.

Majors declined to testify in his defense during the trial. In a sit-down interview with ABC News' Linsey Davis in January, his first following his conviction, he said he was "shocked and afraid" upon hearing the verdict.

"I'm standing there and the verdict comes down. I say, 'How is that possible based off the evidence, based off the prosecution's evidence, let alone our evidence? How is that possible?'" the actor said.

Prosecutors said Jabbari fractured her finger and showed jurors photos taken by police of her injuries, including a cut to her ear and a bruised and swollen finger.

Majors denied twisting her arm and causing those injuries in his interview with Davis.

"She went to grab the phone. I held the phone. I pulled the phone back. She came on top of me, squeezed my face, slapped me. That's all I remember," he said.

Jabbari sued the actor for defamation and other alleged injuries last month, according to the civil complaint.

She is seeking damages for physical injuries she said she suffered as a result of the incident. She also claimed Majors committed "intentional infliction of emotional distress" against her and "made knowingly false statements" about her during the interview with Davis, according to the civil complaint.

Chaudhry said in a statement to ABC News following the filing that he is preparing counterclaims against Jabbari.

Majors played the role of Kang in several Marvel films and TV shows, including the Disney+ series "Loki," and was set to return to the role in "Avengers: Kang Dynasty," slated for a 2026 release date.

Marvel dropped Majors from future productions as the Marvel villain in December following the verdict.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News and Marvel.

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