A retired MMA fighter from Massachusetts reportedly attacked his girlfriend on May 15 while celebrating her birthday.
James Armato, 27, allegedly beat and choked his girlfriend, Gina Antonelli, into losing consciousness while driving home after partying, resulting in a car crash, WFXT reports.
Even though she had passed out, the reportedly drunk Armato allegedly still wouldn’t stop hitting her.
“She woke up to the horrifying reality that this MMA trained fighter was still continuously punching her and strangling her,” said Antonelli’s sister, Nancy Coppi, on a GoFundMe page she set up in response.
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After authorities arrived, Armato then tried to start a fight with a firefighter, reports WFXT
Antonelli was hospitalized for various facial and neck injuries and will be unable to work until she recovers.
“[My sister] will be stuck with the thousands of dollars in bills that this bully left her with. Any money donated will be used to pay her living / household expenses and medical bills while she is unable to work,” Coppi wrote on the GoFundMe page.
“I cannot say how grateful we are to have received thousands of messages from people we don't even know offering their love and support, any little bit helps,” she added.
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While it’s too soon to expect how much the medical bills will be, Coppi is trying to raise $20,000. She says any additional money will be donated to a battered women’s shelter or another charity.
Other family members of Gina’s are also taking to social media after the alleged beating.
“I'm sorry for the extreme graphics of this picture. I am also sorry that this is the extremely brutal reality of what an abusive relationship looks like,” wrote Gina’s cousin, Jennifer, on Facebook while she posts a photo of her injured relative.
“My cousin is so strong, beautiful, independent and full of life and he could've taken all of that away from our family,” she added. “I'm so unbelievably thankful that she is pulling through this. Her story needs to be shared and bring awareness to these monsters. And to warn everyone of this monster: James Armato.”
Armato is now facing attempted murder and other assault-related charges. He is being held without bail.
This is the second time Armato has been accused of similar crimes. He was arrested in 2013 on assault charges.