Pop singer Chris Brown pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault Tuesday morning for punching a photograph seeking fan in October, a deal that brings to a close his embattled criminal legal battles in the District.
Prosecutors agreed not to ask for any jail time and agreed to ask the judge to sentence the 25-year-old Grammy winner to time served in exchange for the plea.
“I would like to say to the court, I’m sorry,” Brown told the judge.
Prosecutors said Brown, along with his friend and bodyguard, Christopher Hollosy, 36, struck Parker Adams, 25, of Beltsville, Md., in the face after Adams tried to take a picture of himself with the entertainer outside the W Hotel on Oct. 27 following a party during Howard University’s homecoming festivities.
Following a two-day trial in April in which Adams and two other witnesses testified that both Brown and Hollosy struck him, Hollosy was found guilty. Brown was scheduled to go on trial later that month, but the trial was delayed.
But legal troubles for Brown and Hollosy in the District still exist. Adams has filed a $1.5 million civil lawsuit against the men. Adams’s attorney said his client suffered a fractured nose and other injuries to his face as a result of the altercation.
Sources close to the negotiations say the agreement reached last week was similar to the deal Brown rejected in June, which also called for no jail time. Sources say prosecutors were satisfied that Brown had spent four months in a California jail earlier this year after a judge there ruled Brown had violated the terms of his probation from his 2009 assault case on then girlfriend, pop singer Rihanna.
Judge A. Franklin Burgess Jr. went straight into the sentencing phase and agreed not to order any jail time as part of the prosecutions deal. However, Burgess added Brown otherwise might face a harsher sentence because he assaulted a second person while on probation for assaulting another.
“Clearly there should be some jail time,” Burgess said. “I feel he has suffered the consequences of what he has done here.”
Brown’s attorney Danny Onorato argued his client has already served two days in D.C. jail following his arrest, nearly three months in a California jail for violating his probation and four months in anger management rehabilitation. “To say he has been punished severely is an understatement,” Onorato said. Brown’s probation in the Rihanna case has been extended to early 2015. Brown also has about 500 hours of community service left to complete as part of his sentence in California.
Onorato said his client has “learned” from his actions and is now focusing on his career and next album. Brown’s random drug-testing as part of his California case has resulted in negative results and has thereby been reduced to twice a week from three times a week, Onorato said.
Brown arrived nearly two hours before his hearing was scheduled. His girlfriend, Karrueche Tran, and others walked in with him. After he left, several of his fans, one who broke out in tears in the courtroom and left, held up signs that said “Team Breezy 4-Ever” referring to Brown’s “Breezy” nickname.
Brown’s criminal case never went to trial. It was supposed to begin after Hollosy’s. But when Hollosy was found guilty, Hollosy – who was supposed to be a key witness for Brown – refused to testify in Brown’s case out of fear his testimony would jeopardize his appeal. As a result, Brown’s trial was delayed. Hollosy is scheduled to be sentenced in November.
Although Brown never took the witness stand, details of the Oct. 27 incident were revealed during Hollosy’s trial. Prosecutors Kendra Briggs and Kevin Chambers put on three witnesses, including Adams, who identified Brown as punching Adams, as Adams stood still with his hands to his side. Brown allegedly punched Adams after Brown rejected taking a photo with him and Adams responded by saying “Man, why you hoin’,” street slang meaning to ignore or disrespect. Brown, Adams testified at the trial, squared up and asked “What did you say?” Adams repeated himself. Then Brown, he said, punched him in the face.
Neither Adams, nor his attorney, were present in court Tuesday, but Onorato said attorneys have been in contact with Adams and that Adams “supported” the plea.
If Brown had gone to trial and convicted, he would have faced a maximum of six months in a jail and a $1,000 fine.