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Jonathan Majors convicted in split verdict, dropped from Marvel

Jonathan Majors enters a courtroom at the Manhattan criminal courts in New York on Dec. 18, 2023.
Seth Wenig
/
AP
Jonathan Majors enters a courtroom at the Manhattan criminal courts in New York on Dec. 18, 2023.

Updated December 18, 2023 at 5:33 PM ET

Actor Jonathan Majors, once a promising and fast-rising Hollywood star, was found guilty on two out of four charges in a domestic violence criminal case in New York on Monday afternoon. He was found guilty on two counts — assault in the third degree and harassment in the second degree — relating to an incident with his former girlfriend, Grace Jabbari. Each of the charges in which he was found guilty is considered a misdemeanor in New York.

In the mixed verdict, the jury found Majors not guilty of intentional assault in the third degree and aggravated harassment in the second degree, essentially saying they did not believe Majors went into the situation intending to hurt Jabbari. In a statement Major's lawyer described him as both "grateful" and "disappointed."

Nevertheless, Majors has already experienced major career fallout. NPR confirmed Monday afternoon that Marvel and Disney, which had been priming audiences to expect a major upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe film starring Majors, has dropped the actor.

The encounter between Majors and Jabbari took place in Manhattan on Mar. 25. Prosecutors accused the 34-year-old Majors of attacking Jabbari in the back of a car, and then picking her up and pushing her back into the car when she tried to follow him out of the vehicle at a downtown intersection.

The two had argued in the car after Jabbari saw a text Majors had received from another woman; prosecutors said Jabbari grabbed the actor's phone and Majors reacted by pulling her finger, twisting her arm behind her back, and hitting her in the head in an attempt to retrieve his phone. Majors eventually jumped out of the car at an intersection. When Jabbari tried to follow him, video evidence showed, Majors picked her up and shoved her back into the car. Majors then ran down the street, with Jabbari chasing after him.

Majors went to a hotel, while Jabbari – who testified that she didn't want to be alone after the attack – went out to a club. When Majors returned to his apartment some hours later, he allegedly found her unconscious, and called 911 to report that he thought she may have tried to commit suicide. The jury heard the 911 call.

However, Majors was arrested by NYPD officers who had responded to that call; they found Jabbari with cuts, bruises and a broken finger. Jabbari was cleared of mental health concerns after a relatively brief, three-hour examination.

Majors was originally 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. After his arrest, Majors also accused Jabbari of assaulting him, but the Manhattan district attorney's office did not pursue charges against her.

During the trial, the jury saw and heard evidence that the March 2022 incident was not the first time Majors may have hurt Jabbari. In a series of text messages between Jabbari and Majors from Sept. 2022, the couple discussed a prior conflict in which Jabbari suffered head injuries. Majors threatened to kill himself, writing: "I'm a monster. A horrible man. Not capable of love." The jurors also heard an audio recording of a separate argument the two had the same month, in which Majors told Jabbari that she needed to act more like Coretta Scott King and Michelle Obama. "I'm a great man," he said on the tape.

Majors had been a rising star in Hollywood until his arrest. His first noteworthy role was in the 2019 independent film The Last Black Man in San Francisco; the following year, he appeared in the HBO series Lovecraft Country. Then came a string of larger films: just weeks before his arrest, he starred opposite Michael B. Jordan in Creed III. Marvel had already introduced Majors as Kang the Conqueror, a villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, via Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and he appeared in Season Two of the Disney+ show Loki.

The judge in the case, New York criminal court judge Michael Gaffey, has barred Majors from having any contact with Jabbari.

Majors' sentencing date has been set for Feb. 6.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: December 19, 2023 at 10:00 PM MST
A previous version of this story incorrectly said "the jury found Majors innocent of intentional assault in the third degree and aggravated harassment in the second degree." In fact the jury found Majors not guilty of those charges.
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Anastasia Tsioulcas
Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts 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 backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.
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