Christy Mack speaks out on brutal 'War Machine' attack, trial
09/11/2017 12:57 pm PDT
In a Crime Watch Daily exclusive, the other man inside the house at the time of the brutal attack is telling his story to our Melissa McCarty.
And Christy Mack details the brutal assault by MMA fighter 'War Machine,' the trial, and threats from fans
In the ring he was paid to destroy opponents, earning the name "War Machine." He was one half of one of the most photographed couples in the sport. But in an instant, all of that was gone.
It's the headline-making case of the mixed-martial-arts superstar with millions of fans, charged with trying to kill his model ex-girlfriend.
Ever since the trial, Christine Mackinday has had trouble talking about that night. She's relived those horrors one too many times.
"I've been stuck in my house, afraid," Christy tells Crime Watch Daily. "I've been stuck in a courtroom telling the same story. I've been stuck mentally in the same place."
Stuck and scared because of a series of events set in motion the day she met a man named Jonathan Koppenhaver -- or as he's known to millions of fight fanatics around the globe, "War Machine."
"I was 21, 22 years old and I had never experienced a relationship where somebody cared so deeply about me," said Christy.
The two actually met in front of the camera while doing a photo shoot, and almost immediately, became something of a power couple -- him as the popular MMA fighter, and her as the tattoo model / adult-film star otherwise known as "Christy Mack."
"These are two people that are in the public eye if you're into either MMA or the adult-film industry," said Jacqueline Bluth, chief deputy district attorney of Clark County.
Often seen together at red carpet events, they were all smiles. But Christy says behind the scenes it was a little different.
"He was very jealous and possessive. He would begin yelling at me and verbally degrading me," said Christy.
And then, much worse than words: She later told a judge that she had been punched, kicked, smothered and bitten.
"The abuse began about three months in, which I now know is a very common thing," Christy tells Crime Watch Daily.
"There was domestic violence throughout, including her getting her face slammed into the front of a vehicle dashboard, her getting teeth chipped off," said Jacqueline Bluth.
Christy would leave, but says that each time, Jon promised it would be the last, and for 15 months, the cycle of abuse continued.
Then, the night of no turning back, on August 7, 2014.
Jon had actually broken up with Christy months before, and though they were talking about getting back together, she had a friend named Corey Thomas staying over to help her set up for a tattoo convention the next day. Corey and Christy had dated briefly, but at that point, she says, they were just friends.
"They watch a movie, they go to bed. They are in the same bed, they are sleeping," said Jacqueline Bluth.
They won't be for long.
"Jon came in and turned the lights on," Christy said.
Turns out, War Machine still had a key to the house and had planned to surprise Christy for the weekend.
"He jumps on top of him and starts hitting Corey," said Christy. "And I call 911."
Afraid Jon will turn on her, Christy hides the phone under some towels, then watches as he bites, punches and chokes Corey Thomas. Christy can be heard on the call pleading for Corey's life.
"Jon, don't kill him!" she says on the 911 call.
But then, War Machine loosens his grip.
"And War Machine is screaming during this entire incident, 'Christy, tell him that you are mine, you are going to be my wife, you love me,'" said Jacqueline Bluth. "Christy is screaming whatever Jonathan tells her to scream, and War Machine turns to Corey and says 'You're going to walk out of here, you're not going to tell anybody. If you tell anyone about this or go get the police, I will kill you myself or I'll send my friends to kill you.'"
Then Corey left the residence. After that, War Machine reportedly ripped off his blood-soaked shirt and said "This is why I can't wear white." Then he looked to Christy -- it was her turn.
"It started in the shower," said Jacqueline Bluth.
"I don't know how I got in the shower," Christy later said in court. "I could taste blood in my mouth."
Then, as War Machine forced Christy to clean herself, he went through her phone.
"And anything he found in her phone, such as Instagram followers he didn't like or photos he didn't like, he would beat her about the face," said Bluth.
"I remember waking up on the floor," Christy later said on the stand. "I was about to stand up and he kicked me in my ribs so hard that I fell over and began convulsing."
The kick had lacerated her liver.
"Just after this I told him that I needed help, that like I genuinely felt like I was going to die at this point," Christy said in court.
Unfortunately for Christy, War Machine was just getting started.
Christy Mack is in a fight for her life. Her ex-boyfriend, a skilled mixed-martial-arts fighter named War Machine has erupted in a jealous rage.
In the shocking 911 call, you can actually hear the blows as Christine Mackinday's ex-boyfriend pummeled her friend Corey Thomas, but police weren't able to trace the call before it cut off.
After that, Christine was alone with an enraged War Machine, convulsing on the ground after a kick that lacerated her liver.
"He threw the dog's blanket on top of me because he thought I was just cold, that's the reason I was convulsing," Christy Mack said in court.
But he still wasn't done. And as if the professional fighter's hands and feet weren't lethal enough: "He then took a knife and sawed off all of her hair," said Clark County, Nevada Chief Deputy District Attorney Jacqueline Bluth.
And when there was no more hair, he turned to flesh. He cut Christy's head with a knife.
"I just remember him still being so angry he broke the handle off the knife and still continued to use the knife blade in his hand to push it into me," Christy testified.
We want to warn you, what he did next may be extremely disturbing to some viewers.
"He licked his hand and wiped it across my vagina and said 'That's my p---- and I'm going to take it back,'" said Christy.
"He is a person just like the rest of us. I don't see him as a monster. This person does have self-control, and he chose not to use it," Christy tells Crime Watch Daily.
Apparently, War Machine was not able to complete the sexual assault, but sometime after that, he finally looked around at the damage he'd done, and made a decision.
"At that point in time, her face was incredibly swollen. She was bleeding. Her hair had been cut off. She was naked. And War Machine told her 'I can't come back from this,'" said Jacqueline Bluth.
"He looks at me and he says 'Now I have to kill you, I've gone too far, you can't be seen like this, everyone's going to know,'" Christy testified.
Then, Jon goes downstairs to her kitchen, where Christy hears him rifling through her knife drawer.
"I believed he was getting another knife, since the other one had broken, so he could kill me," Christy said on the stand.
"She thinks at that point, 'I either can sit here and wait to die or I can leave,'" said Jacqueline Bluth.
And so wearing nothing but the dog blanket Jon threw over her, Christy sneaks through a patio door and never looks back.
Finally, after hours of being beaten beyond recognition, Christy escapes to a neighbor's house.
"I need police or medical. There is a lady in front of my door beaten up," the neighbor says on a recorded 911 call.
Pictures taken just after emergency medical technicians arrived show Christy still wrapped in the dog blanket, suffering from shattered eye sockets and missing teeth.
and one lingering question: Could any of this have been prevented?What if Corey Thomas, the man who was with Christy when War Machine came in, the other victim of his rage, had just called police when he left?
"I don't have any negative feelings towards him. I don't know why he didn't call the police. I don't know," Christy tells Crime Watch Daily.
So we decided to ask Corey Thomas himself. It was to be one of his first times talking publicly about that night.
Corey said it wasn't until after two months of dating Christy when she and Jon started talking about getting back together, that he even really became aware of the man. Still, Corey had no idea what agreeing to stay over that night would lead to.
"Almost right 30 minutes after we turn the lights off and go to sleep, then that's when War Machine comes in," Corey tells Crime Watch Daily. "I look over and I just see out of his mouth, 'What the f---?' And the next thing I know he's already on top of me just smashing my face. He came on top of me and got me in a rear naked choke, and I thought to myself, 'Oh OK -- yeah, he's got me right now,'" said Corey Thomas.
Corey says War Machine got winded after that, and he was able to wriggle out of the hold. Then, he says, with his neck throbbing and blood running down his face, things got confusing.
"By that time he starts to tell Christy, 'Tell him that you love me, tell him you told me that you wanted to marry me today and you love me,' and she's repeating it like a parrot in the background," said Corey. "In the moment, you think to yourself, 'Why am I getting my ass kicked by this guy and she's telling him that she loves him?' I figured to myself, 'I'm in the wrong bed at the wrong time with the wrong girl.'"
So in a move many might find shocking, when War Machine told him to leave: "'You crazy kids can figure this thing out yourselves,'" said Corey. "I gathered my stuff and I left."
Even more shocking, instead of going to authorities, he went home. Corey did eventually talk to police, but only after a friend of his called 911 first, and that was two hours after the attack began -- too late to help Christy.
"He said that if I snitched he was going to have his friends kill me," said Corey told a 911 operator.
Was Corey worried about Christy's safety?
"No, because I thought to myself, 'We just fought, the fight's over,'" said Corey. "Who hits a girl? Like seriously?"
He thought they were just going to make up and talk it out? "Yeah. Yeah," said Corey.
And Corey says there were other reasons for him to believe she was fine. Very shortly after left, Corey got a series of texts from Christy's phone, including one that read: "He calmed down now. Can't believe this happened. I'm so sorry."
Corey later replied: "Did he hurt you?" and got this text in response: "No. Yelled."
It wasn't until later that Corey learned the truth behind the texts: They were sent by War Machine.
Why didn't he at least call for himself, to put War Machine in jail for what he did to Corey?
"I don't know -- like, let's say you were to go to a bar, right, and then there's a girl that you're seeing and then some other guy comes to the bar and he's seeing her too, and you fight over her and she picks him and you lose, you gonna call the police and whine about it?" said Corey.
Of course, Corey Thomas doesn't feel that way anymore. When he saw Christy after that night, he thought: "Just, 'I want to find this guy and beat him to death.'"
Almost as soon as word got out, it became a media sensation: Celebrity MMA fighter Jonathan "War Machine" Koppenhaver accused of beating two people, one of them his model ex-girlfriend, nearly to death.
And if that wasn't a big enough story on its own, War Machine drove off and went on the run -- hiding out, though not exactly laying low.
Starting just hours after the attack, and continuing for the next several days, War Machine took to social media to send tweets like:
"I can't believe this... I must be cursed," and "I'm not a bad guy, I went to surprise my gf, help her set up her show and to give her an engagement ring and ended up fighting for my life."
So Christy shot back with her own post featuring graphic photos of her injuries at the hospital, along with the story of what happened.
"I knew that I didn't do anything wrong. I wasn't the one that committed crimes. I wasn't the one that almost killed another person," Christy tells Crime Watch Daily.
After that, a massive manhunt ensued including the FBI, U.S. Marshals, and even TV's "Dog the Bounty Hunter."
"Everybody was looking for him. He was found in a hotel in Southern California," said Jacqueline Bluth.
Police reportedly had to use a Taser on the professional fighter before he finally tapped out.
Once in custody, Jonathan "War Machine" Koppenhaver is charged with a whopping 34 counts, including battery with use of a deadly weapon, sexual assault and two counts of attempted murder.
But then, in yet another headline-making turn:
"Before he went to trial, he was found with, I believe it was a sheet tied around his neck," said Jacqueline Bluth.
But War Machine survives to show his contempt at a pre-trial hearing just a few weeks later.
"Specifically I, judge, I'd just like the record to notate that Mr. Koppenhaver is laughing and shaking his head," Bluth said in court during the hearing.
War Machine: "I didn't laugh."
Koppenhaver's attorney: "Objection your honor, he wasn't laughing."
Judge: "I watched him laugh."
"The trial was a very difficult time for me. It took two years to even get to trial," Christine Mackinday tells Crime Watch Daily.
And when the trial finally did get underway, War Machine's defense attorneys made it crystal-clear how they intended to make their case.
"The evidence is going to show that Mr. Koppenhaver was told he had consent to do these things," said Koppenhaver's defense attorney in court.
Even after Corey Thomas took the stand, after all the brutal pictures and days of tearful testimony from Christy, the defense still tried to paint her as nothing more than an adult actress who somehow invited what happened that night.
"You testified about kind of the rules and guidelines of the rape fantasy?" an attorney asked Christy in court.
"There's so many times where I didn't want to do it anymore," Christy tells Crime Watch Daily. "There were so many days where I didn't have the strength to continue. I didn't know what ways they were going to try and tear down my credibility."
But Christy refused to waver, and finally, roughly three years after the horrific attack, it was time for a ruling.
The reading of the verdict took over five minutes. And though War Machine was actually found not guilty of attempted murder, for 29 of the other 34 charges: guilty.
But the biggest bombshell was still to come. At sentencing, the judge delivered this stunner: "I have to look out for the well-being of the community."
"He received life in prison with a possibility of parole at 36 years, meaning that his very first opportunity before he even goes before a parole board will be 36 years," said Jacqueline Bluth.
And since War Machine is 35 now, that means he'll be over 70 years old before he even has a chance at parole.
And if that seems excessive:
"What society doesn't know about is about the seven previous victims," said Jacqueline Bluth. "One thing that we did during the rendition of sentence is we talked about how many people have had to be hospitalized because of his aggression. This is prior girlfriends, random people walking down the street, security guards, bouncers at clubs. So for people who think it's too much, I'd ask, What else can a judge do or a prosecutor do when someone won't stop?"
Koppenhaver has already lost one appeal, and his lawyers say they plan to take the case to the Nevada Supreme Court.
Is there anything Corey Thomas wanted to say to War Machine and didn't or would say to him at this point?
"Just stand him up in a room and leave us alone. We'll figure it out," Corey said. "But now I don't care. He has got to deal with his karma, what he's put himself through. You reap what you sow."
As for Christy, she says she's just trying to keep moving forward -- even going back to school to study the law. She's become an advocate for domestic violence victims.
"I spend a lot of time going online and talking to other victims. For me I really love having the voice and the reach to people that have similar experiences to me," Christy tells Crime Watch Daily. "Knowing there's people out there that know exactly how you feel is very helpful for me, and I hope that it's helpful for the others as well."
At the same time, her own battle still isn't over. While her abuser is behind bars, he still has millions of fans, and Christy says that until they see him for who he really is and what he's really done, she will never feel completely safe.
"I receive death threats every single day," said Christy. "Every day: 'You got what you deserved.' Every day, 'He should've finished the job.' Every day, 'I hope somebody else comes and rapes you.' Every day. These are real people that see no problem with what he did to me. So it's a very serious thing to me."
If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who needs help getting out of one, please see resources below. Like Christy said: Reach out. You are not alone.