Attorneys for R&B singer Chris Brown and his bodyguard declined to accept plea deals offered by District prosecutors during a hearing in D.C. Superior Court Wednesday.
The 24-year-old entertainer and his bodyguard, Christopher Hollosy, 35, were each charged with one count of misdemeanor simple assault after an October altercation outside the W hotel in downtown Washington.
“We reject that offer,” Danny Onorato, one of Brown’s attorneys, said during the 10 minute hearing.
Hollosy’s attorney, Bernie Grimm, said the plea deal was the same as the original charge: one count of simple assault. Brown and Hollosy, who declined to comment after the hearing, face a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Traditionally, when prosecutors offer a plea deal that is the same as the initial charges, it’s an incentive for defendants to avoid the possibility of facing additional charges while investigators continue to look into the case.
Accounts of how the altercation started at the hotel on 15th Street NW have varied. Authorities say it began after a male sought a photograph with Brown outside a nightclub where the entertainer was hosting a party during Howard University’s homecoming weekend. Others have stated that the man tried to board Brown’s tour bus. Brown and Hollosy are both accused of striking the man.
Prosecutors said they were gathering additional security video from the night of the alleged incident which they say could be evidence in their case. Another hearing is scheduled for Feb 20.
Onorato said he plans to request that Brown’s appearance be waved at that hearing because Brown will still be in a 90-day residential program in his home state of California as a result of his 2009 conviction related to the assault case involving his former girlfriend, pop star Rihanna.
Brown arrived at the courthouse Wednesday under unusually heightened security. More than a dozen armed U.S. marshals, wearing fatigues and carrying assault weapons lined the front of the courthouse to keep reporters, photographers and curious onlookers away. Shoving matches between marshals and reporters erupted outside the courthouse. At one point, the marshals told visitors the front of the courthouse was closed and they directed courthouse visitors to other entrances.
“This is crazy. Is Obama coming here? What’s going on? He’s just a singer, right,” wondered Cheryl Madison, 32, of Northeast.
Courthouse officials said they were concerned about security following the melee after Brown’s first appearance in October and held meetings on how to handle Wednesday’s hearing.
“The US Marshals Service provides security for the DC Courts” said Leah H. Gurowitz, director of governmental and public relations for the D.C. Courts in a statement. “The Service does the assessment of what is needed, based on their security expertise.”
While there was additional security for Brown, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan slipped into the courthouse unnoticed by many as she repo
rted for jury duty, her second tour in two years. Kagan was released after not being selected.
Brown looked noticeably different at Wednesday’s hearing than he did in October at his first court appearance after spending two days in jail. Then, Brown appeared slightly gaunt and his hair was dyed an ashy blond. Wednesday, Brown, wearing a three-piece, charcoal grey suit, appeared heavier and his hair was black. He laughed and joked with Hollosy and his attorneys before the hearing began. In the front row of the courtroom was Brown’s girlfriend, model Karrueche Tran, who arrived at the courthouse separately.