HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A disturbing cell phone recording obtained by Hawaii News Now underscores the brutality of the beating that sent UFC fighter Rachael Ostovich to the hospital last month.
It also includes audio of Ostovich’s life being threatened, raising questions about why prosecutors didn’t pursue an attempted murder charge against her alleged attacker.
The Nov. 27 recording was taken by a witness who heard Ostovich’s screams for help and the repeat blows she endured — allegedly from her husband, MMA fighter Arnold Berdon.
The recording lasts a grueling nine minutes and is dark almost beginning to end.
But you can clearly hear what is happening — blow by blow.
In her petition for a temporary restraining order, Ostovich wrote about the attack. “He punched me repeatedly on the head, face, ribs,” she said, adding that she coughed up blood and threw up several times afterwards.
Her injuries included a broken eye socket and multiple bruises — and Ostovich said it wasn’t the first time.
A key part of the audio recording includes Ostovich’s life being threatened.
“I’m going to murder you. I’m going to f*****g murder you," Ostovich’s attacker can be heard yelling as she cries.
At one point, Ostovich is quiet. Sources say that’s because she’d fallen unconscious.
Eventually, Ostovich was able to escape.
In the video, she can be seen dropping about 10 feet from a lanai before getting up and stumbling away nude.
Police sources told Hawaii News Now that Berdon’s alleged statements and the length and severity of the beating justified an attempted murder charge. And that’s what Honolulu police recommended.
But when the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney’s office charged the case, it was downgraded to assault.
Nanci Kreidman, of the Domestic Violence Action Center, said that was a misstep.
Deputy prosecutors, she said, shouldn’t make the decision to downgrade a charge. A jury should have. “There are threats to kill, at what point does the system take his threats and his violence seriously, recognize them for the grave violent acts that they are and try to hold accountable the people that are committing these crimes," she said.
The prosecutor’s office did not provide an explanation on the charge.
And Berdon’s attorney, Myles Breiner, would not comment on the recording. He did receive it through discovery.
He did say, however, that assault is the appropriate charge, especially with domestic violence.
He said attempted murder would have been over-charging.
“There are times when they over reach, and this is one of those. Arnold Berdon and his wife had a relationship. It was acrimonious, there’s no question about that," Breiner said.
On Thursday, Berdon pleaded not guilty in connection with the case and a judge scheduled his trial for January.
Breiner said Berdon is going through a domestic violence intervention course. The couple is also going through a divorce, but Breiner said their focus is on their young daughter, who visits Berdon twice a week with supervision.
Hawaii News Now did contact Ostovich’s family about the recording. The family declined to comment, saying she is focused on training for her upcoming fight in Brooklyn on Jan. 19.