A former Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter who scaled four stories in an attempt to break into his estranged wife’s downtown San Diego high-rise apartment was sentenced Monday to 120 days in jail and three years of probation.
Christian Leben, 35, was also instructed to complete a 52-week domestic violence class and was ordered to stay away from his soon-to-be ex-wife for the next 10 years.
Leben was ordered to report for custody Sept. 21. Judge Michael Groch told the defendant that he could be sentenced to three years in state prison if he violates any laws in the weeks leading up his report date.
Defense attorney Michael Earle argued unsuccessfully for no additional custody time, telling the judge that Leben has made a number of changes in his life since his arrest, including writing a book, doing a radio show on ESPN and coaching upcoming MMA fighters.
But the judge called Leben’s conduct “extremely concerning,” noting the defendant was armed with a loaded handgun and an illegal AR-15 assault rifle and wearing a T-shirt with the words “Shoot first” during the pre-dawn attempted break-in. Groch also said Leben caused nearly $3,700 in damages that morning.
Deputy District Attorney Matthew Dix urged the judge to give the defendant 180 days in jail and take him into custody right away.
“This case is a very serious incident,” the prosecutor said outside court. “He broke into her home while she was there. He had a loaded gun on him. He also brought to the property an AR-15, which is an illegal assault weapon. So, it’s a very scary incident for our victim and it’s also important to let people like him know that these kind of things are going to be punished within our community and I think custody time was appropriate punishment in this case.”
Leben pleaded guilty earlier this month to felony possession of an assault weapon and misdemeanor counts of vandalism and violating a temporary restraining order.
Leben’s estranged wife, Kaleena, wrote a letter to the court saying she lives in fear of the defendant.
In a request for a restraining order, she wrote that she awoke around 3 a.m. June 8 to banging and kicking at her door. About 4:30 a.m., she woke up again and noticed Leben trying to scale the outside wall in an attempt to gain access to her apartment via the balcony.
The victim said that the previous day, Leben texted her and threatened to kill her father.
Leben, known as “The Crippler” in his MMA days, retired in 2013.
— City News Service