Ellen Goldberg, NBC 5 News
Accusations of assault and steroid use caused drama at the Collin County Courthouse as Deion and Pilar Sanders battle for custody of their children.
During testimony over child custody Friday afternoon, Deion Sanders erupted and shouted, "Oh God" before turning and walking out of the courtroom when his estranged wife accused him of using steroids.
Deion and Pilar Sanders are in court for a trial to settle primary custody of their three children in their bitter divorce battle.
As Pilar Sanders began to testify about the steroids, Deion Sanders stood up, muttered under his breath in disgust and stormed out of the courtroom. He didn't come back until after the lunch break.
"Some things are just so unbelievable, you just remove yourself from the situation," he said when asked why he left.
The judge told the jury to leave the courtroom and then instructed both sides that there would not be any discussion of steroids during the trial. The jury was then allowed back into the room.
Deion Sanders said the drug accusation had not come up before.
"We've never heard this," he said. "We've been here a year and a half; it's sad thinking about."
He said the steroids her attorneys had hoped to show jurors belonged to her.
Pilar Sanders also accused Deion Sanders of physical abuse. She said he choked her while they were filming their reality show for saying, "I can't help it that I am funnier than you."
"He leapt across the table and lifted me by my throat," she testified.
When her attorneys asked how it made her feel, she said she had been "highly concerned, because I couldn't breathe and it hurt very bad, and it was in front of people for the first time."
She went on to say that: "When he ever did anything like that, it was in private."
Late Friday, his defense team began its cross-examination of Pilar Sanders, hammering on her lack of a college degree, failed attempts to find a job and racy photos on her Facebook and Twitter pages. His attorneys also accused her of working as phone sex operator, which she denied.
"We're not afraid of cross examination," said her attorney, Larry Friedman. "You can’t paint Pilar as anything other than a loving mother. As we say in the business, bring it on."
Earlier in the day, witnesses testified about a 2012 fight at the couple's Prosper home.
Friedman's first witness, an orthopedic surgeon, said Pilar Sanders, who was arrested after the fight, had surgery for an injured elbow and thumb.
Pilar Sanders' attorneys also tried to call Tracey Edmonds, Deion Sanders' current girlfriend, to the stand.
Edmonds wasn't in the courtroom. Friedman said she had been subpoenaed to testify, but Deion Sanders said she has nothing to do with the custody of his children.
"That has nothing to do with the kids and who's the best parent," he said.
His attorneys argue that Edmonds lives in California and shouldn't weigh in on the custody of the children.
Pilar Sanders' attorneys have tried to paint Deion Sanders as a cheater, saying Edmonds stays over at his house while he's still legally married.
But Deion Sanders has said his wife was the one who was cheating.
"I filed for divorce for adultery," he said. "I filed for divorce, so if I was doing all that, why didn't you file for divorce?"
Deion Sanders said he doesn't think a jury should decide who gets primary custody of his children.
"I don't think people [who] just come into your life for four, five days should be able to judge where your kids should reside," Deion Sanders said
A court-appointed counselor who has talked with the Sanders children also took the stand on Friday morning, but the judge did not allow her to say much, saying it would violating the children's trust.
Pilar Sanders Earlier Testified That Deion Sanders Threatened Her
Pilar Sanders testified on Thursday that, since she filed for divorce, her estranged husband has threatened to destroy her.
She denied any accusations of adultery and cried as she told jurors about how betrayed and hurt she felt when he accused her on Twitter, to his hundreds of thousands of followers, of cheating.
Lisa Thomas, the piano teacher for the Sanders' children, also took the stand Thursday. She testified that Deion Sanders threatened her outside the courtroom the last time she was at a hearing. She said he told her: "I am going to get you."
Thomas told jurors that she requested protection from the Collin County Sheriff's Office because she could not afford a bodyguard and was afraid.
Jurors also heard from two Prosper school principals for the Sanders' boys. Both portrayed Pilar Sanders as a hands-on parent who is highly involved in the education of the children.
The principals characterized Deion Sanders as hard to get a hold of, while his attorneys responded by pointing out that neither one had asked Deion Sanders for his email address or tried to talk to him when they have seen him on campus.
Divorce Drama Extends for More Than a Year
Deion Sanders announced his split from Pilar Sanders on Facebook in December 2011.
Since then, both sides have argued over everything from the prenuptial agreement to alleged assaults and criminal mischief, child support payments and, now, child custody.
Deion Sanders has argued that the custody battle is all about money. Pilar Sanders has said the fight is about who is the more reliable parent.
Both parents say they want what is best for their children.