Love Gone Bad

updated 08/25/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/25/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Slumped at the defense table in a Los Angeles courtroom, tough guy actor Tom Sizemore listened as his own voice—damningly captured on answering-machine tapes saved by his former girlfriend Heidi Fleiss—transfixed jurors. "I'm going to kick your teeth in," he says at one point. Later the Black Hawk Down star seethes, "You leave me no option [but] to violate you. I hate your guts."

Though Sizemore, 41, chose not to take the stand, his words loomed large at his trial on 16 counts of domestic violence and other harassment against the former Hollywood Madam. So did a tearful three days of testimony by Fleiss, as she described the couple's explosive relationship, which began after her release from prison in 1999. Despite Sizemore's volatile reputation (his ex-wife brought a domestic-abuse complaint against him in 1997 but declined to press charges), "I loved him a lot and trusted him," Fleiss said. But she testified that things soon deteriorated into a nightmare of abuse and infidelity during which she was beaten several times and received 90 harassing phone calls. Fleiss said she went to police only after the actor threatened to kill her younger brother Jesse. "I couldn't take it anymore," she said.

Sizemore's defense countered that Fleiss, 37, was violent herself, trying to bite Sizemore's ear during a May 2002 fight (she denied it). "There are no crimes here," said his lawyer Michael Fitzgerald, "just tragedies."

That's for the jury to decide. (They were deliberating at press time.) Size-more—who faces five separate charges that he punched and threatened another woman he dated, Brooke Ashley Ford—could get as much as 13 years in prison. Fleiss, who is currently promoting her self-published book Pandering, is anxious to put the case behind her. Says a close friend: "She's had enough ugliness in her life."

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