There was good news this week for former UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen as he battles multiple misdemeanor battery counts stemming from an alleged attack in 2021.
Last December, police were called to attend the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Vegas after reports of an intoxicated individual attacking a vacationing couple, Christopher and Julie Stelpflug, unprovoked whilst they were returning to their room.
In some harrowing detail, “The American Gangster” is said to have thrown elbows at Christopher during scrambles on the ground and even held him in a chokehold. He’s also accused of pinning Julie against a wall and punching her in the face repeatedly.
Sonnen, who competed for championships at both middleweight and light heavyweight inside the Octagon, was later accused of attacking a number of other guests, as well as multiple security guards.
After avoiding an arrest, five misdemeanor citations were later filed against Sonnen. While a judge initially dismissed them all, the Clark County District Attorney’s Office later charged the former MMA star with 10 misdemeanor counts of battery and one felony count of battery by strangulation, insisting that it “played absolutely no role in the unilateral decision by the sitting judge to dismiss the citations.”
But this past March, prosecutors dropped the felony charge and filed an amended criminal complaint that reduced Sonnen’s misdemeanor charges to six.
Months later, the couple accusing Sonnen of the unprovoked attack appeared on California TV station KSBY to discuss the incident and what they perceived to be a number of failings in how the DA’s office and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department handled the incident.
But following that tell-all sit-down interview, and seemingly owing to it, Sonnen has had his charge count reduced yet again.
Sonnen Has 2 Of 6 Misdemeanor Counts Dropped
Following the couple’s TV appearance, defense attorney Dayvid Figler filed a motion to dismiss all charges against Sonnen after prosecutors failed to obtain statements that the Stellpflugs gave to the California TV station.
Figler protested that Christopher and Julie Stellpflug made comments to a media entity that could be used as exculpatory evidence — meaning “any evidence that is favorable to the defendant on issues of guilt or punishment.”
Per a Las Vegas Review-Journal report, Figler’s motion reads that Christopher Stellpflug “has given some statements which have been broadcast concerning Mr. Sonnen’s mental state… and also claimed injuries and motivations unsupported by other evidence… It is clear that if Mr. Sonnen could not form the requisite intent to commit a willful and unlawful battery that he would be exonerated of all charges.”
In court documents, Chief Deputy District Attorney Jake Merback made note of the fact that prosecutors were unable to obtain statements made to the TV station, but argued against Figler’s claim, writing that “there is no reason to believe that the statements made to the media would be inconsistent with the Stellpflug’s prior statements.”
He did, however, state that should the judge see things differently, only the two charges related to the alleged injuries that the Stellpflugs suffered should be dropped. And at a court hearing on Wednesday, Las Vegas Justice Pro Tem Craig Friedberg dismissed two of the six counts.
In response, Julie Stellpflug explained her and her husband’s ‘disgust’ at the decision during a phone interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, insisting that nothing that was said to the TV station differed from the statements given to the police.
“We just want justice,” Stellpflug said. “We did not deserve what happened to us… Everything has remained consistent. There’s nothing different.”
With the decision, Sonnen is now left facing four remaining misdemeanor battery counts. The former UFC and WEC standout was also sued by the couple in March.
What do you make of the latest developments in Chael Sonnen’s battery case?
All quotes h/t Las Vegas Review-Journal