2 counts dismissed against ex-UFC fighter accused of attacking couple
A judge dismissed two misdemeanor battery counts on Wednesday in the case against former UFC fighter Chael Sonnen, who is accused of attacking multiple people at a Las Vegas hotel in December.
In March, prosecutors dropped a felony battery charge and filed an amended criminal complaint reducing the charges Sonnen faced to six misdemeanor battery counts. During a court hearing Wednesday, Las Vegas Justice Pro Tem Craig Friedberg dismissed two of those counts.
The two dismissed counts accused Sonnen of attacking Christopher and Julie Stellpflug of San Luis Obispo, California, who have claimed Sonnen repeatedly punched them without provocation on Dec. 18 in a hallway of the Four Seasons, 3960 Las Vegas Boulevard South.
The Stellpflugs also filed a lawsuit against Sonnen in March.
Defense attorney Dayvid Figler filed a motion to dismiss all charges against Sonnen after prosecutors were unable to obtain statements the Stellpflugs gave to a California TV station. Figler argued that the Stellpflugs made comments to the media that could be used as exculpatory evidence, including that Sonnen was “uttering gibberish” during the encounter.
Figler wrote in the motion 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,” Figler wrote.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Jake Merback wrote in court documents that prosecutors have been unable to obtain statements the Stellpflugs made to the TV station.
Merback argued in the filing that failing to obtain the statements is not withholding exculpatory evidence, because “there is no reason to believe that the statements made to the media would be inconsistent with the Stellpflug’s prior statements.”
However, Merback also argued that if the judge disagreed with prosecutors, then only the charges related to the Stellpflugs’ alleged injuries should be dismissed from the case.
Merback, who did not attend Wednesday’s court hearing, did not reply to a request for comment. Figler declined to comment on the case following the hearing.
Sonnen, who lives in Portland, also did not attend Wednesday’s hearing.
According to the Stellpflugs’ lawsuit, the couple was walking down a hallway in the Four Seasons when they saw Sonnen, who appeared to be intoxicated.
The lawsuit states that Sonnen knocked a drink out of Christopher Stellpflug’s hand “without provocation,” and then began punching Christopher Stellpflug in the head multiple times. Sonnen is also accused of choking Christopher Stellpflug, throwing Julie Stellpflug against a light fixture and punching her in the face, according to an arrest warrant.
According to the lawsuit, another man came out of his room and tried to stop Sonnen, who began elbowing the man. A different man told police he called security after Sonnen had punched him in the face, just before the Stellpflugs arrived in the hallway.
Sonnen also is accused of striking one security guard in the nose with his knee and kicking another in the chest before he was detained by more employees.
Although police were called to the scene, Sonnen was not arrested the night of the alleged attack, Figler said during Wednesday’s hearing. The Stellpflugs then made a civilian complaint about the attack, Figler said, and the Metropolitan Police Department issued five misdemeanor battery citations to Sonnen in January.
That case was dismissed without prejudice, meaning the charges could be re-filed, after a judge found procedural issues.
In a phone interview Wednesday morning, the Stellpflugs said they were disappointed and “disgusted” by the dropped charges.
“We just want justice,” Julie Stellpflug said. “We did not deserve what happened to us.”
Julie Stellpflug said that after they spoke to the California TV station, prosecutors did not ask them for a recording of the interview or to give additional statements. Merback’s motion did not specify how prosecutors attempted to obtain the statements.
The Stellpflugs said their account of the alleged attack has not changed between speaking with police, prosecutors and the media.
“Everything has remained consistent,” Julie Stellpflug said. “There’s nothing different.”
Contact Katelyn Newberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.