Former mixed martial arts fighter Jason "Mayhem" Miller, who is on trial on domestic violence charges, testified Monday that his girlfriend, who he had trained, attacked him on several occasions and that he went to great lengths to avoid responding.
The 36-year-old Mission Viejo resident recalled one conflict in which he said his accuser, Anna Stabile, hurled a bottle at him.
"I don't know what it was all about," said Miller, who sported a mohawk haircut punctuated with a purple streak of dye.
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The bottle missed its mark, but, "I thought it was going to break my TV when she winged it at me," Miller said. "It messed up the drywall a little bit."
On another occasion, a dispute led Stabile to jump on the former champion fighter's back, he testified. He said that conflict came "sometime in between that knife thing" when Stabile allegedly threatened to take her own life but then lunged at him.
"She chased me out the back door, ripped off my shirt and jumped on my back and choked me," Miller testified.
Asked how a much-smaller woman could attack a professional fighter, Miller responded, "I didn't want to fight her... I just figured I was better off getting out of the situation than engage with a physical thing with her."
"I taught her how to do that choke," he said, but Stabile "got sloppy with her legs" as she tried to take him down and "slipped off," bumping her head on concrete, the fighter testified.
"I asked her did she want to go to the hospital because it was a good fall," he said. "I was shocked that she took it to that level."
Miller said Stabile was "strong for a girl," and he trained her because "I could see her doing big things."
When Stabile declined a trip to the hospital, "she kinda begged me back... I don't know. We slept together. It was weird," he said.
Another time, Miller "said something snarky" and walked away from Stabile, prompting her to "hit me in the back of the head," he testified.
Miller also testified about his social media posts on Instagram,Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube. He acknowledged posting a "public apology" to Stabile after she accused him of domestic violence.
"Man, I was so hurt that the media was making this thing out to be a huge deal, making me feel like the bad guy," Miller said of his post. "I knew she kept doing these things and I kept taking her back. I felt horrible about it."
When his attorney, Cameron Talley, asked Miller if he still loved Stabile at the time, the fighter replied, "Yeah ... I kept pushing her buttons."
Miller said he convinced Stabile the stay in the relationship despite his desire to sleep with other women.
"I knew she wasn't OK with it, even though she said she was," Miller testified.
Miller said he had paid an attorney to help keep Stabile from losing a custody battle for her son and was "shocked" when she accused him of beating her, after which he tried to take his case to prosecutors.
"I went in to the District Attorney's Office in Harbor Court to tell them this is wrong," Miller testified. "I told them she's trying to ruin my
life... They stonewalled me... I said, 'This is messed up. This didn't happen. She attacked me.'"
The staff at the District Attorney's Office "just looked at me funny," Miller said.
Talley asked him if the response could have had something to do with his wardrobe that day.
"Yeah, I was wearing a feather boa," Miller testified, eliciting chuckles in the courtroom. "I felt fancy... It was so ridiculous. That's what it deserved."
Talley also showed jurors some of Miller's social media posts, which the fighter described as his art and a sharing of his "voyage" to his fans. In one post, he put jars of Nutella in front of a statue of the Hindu god Ganesh.
"I like religious imagery. It's Ganesh, the creator and it's a reminder not to eat too much Nutella," Miller said. "You can't eat that all the time. You'll gain weight."
Orange County Superior Court Judge Steven Bromberg last week granted a motion from Talley to drop a stalking charge against Miller.
He faces up to five years and 10 months behind bars if convicted of two felony counts of domestic violence and a misdemeanor count of violating a restraining order — all stemming from incidents that allegedly occurred in 2013.