A D.C. judge on Wednesday delayed the assault trial for singer Chris Brown, allowing the Grammy winner to return to Los Angeles and giving his attorneys several months to decide how to proceed without the help of a key witness.
Superior Court Judge Franklin A. Burgess Jr. ordered Mr. Brown to return to the District on June 25, the same day his bodyguard Christopher Hollosy is scheduled to be sentenced for punching a Maryland man in October.
Mr. Hollosy was convicted of assault earlier this week, and despite earlier assurances he would waive his Fifth Amendment rights and testify at Mr. Brown’s trial on Wednesday, he chose to invoke his right against self-incrimination.
Mr. Hollosy was considered an “essential, exculpatory witness” for Mr. Brown’s case, court records state, wherein he would “testify that [he] alone struck the complaining witness.”
Attorneys for Mr. Brown had requested immunity for Mr. Hollosy. Prosecutors stated in court papers that the bodyguard “had refused to debrief with the United States, and has not provided any sworn testimony in this matter.”
The request for immunity was rejected.
Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse, Mr. Brown’s attorney, Mark Geragos, said while prosecutors routinely offer immunity “when they think a witness is going to help them, obviously they did not think” Mr. Hollosy would help their case.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” he said of the trial delay. “Everybody was ready to go.”
Mr. Geragos said his client would be taken back to Los Angeles, which would take about a week.
Mr. Brown appeared in court wearing a dark suit, silver tie and light blue shirt that covered most of his neck tattoos. His mother, Joyce Hawkins, was in the courtroom, as well as a handful of fans who waited in line before the hearing for one of the few seats available for public observers.
Mr. Brown faces one count of assault, which carries a minimum sentence of two years.
The rap singer was also due to appear in a Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday afternoon for a separate case, but an attorney was scheduled to appear on his behalf.
He’s been in a California jail since March after being booted from a Malibu rehab clinic where he had been staying for anger management treatment.
The outcome of the assault case could have an impact on how much time the Grammy award winner spends behind bars. He was arrested in the District while on five years probation for the 2009 beating of his then-girlfriend, singer Rihanna.
Mr. Brown was arrested in the early morning hours of Oct. 27 after an altercation outside the W Hotel, in the 500 block of 15th Street Northwest.
The performer was in the city for an appearance at an event in connection with the Howard University homecoming.
Court documents outline two differing versions of the incident, with the 20-year-old victim, saying Mr. Brown and then Mr. Hollosy punched him in the face after he tried to get in a picture with Mr. Brown.
But Mr. Brown and Mr. Hollosy told police that the man had tried to get on the singer’s tour bus, and that was why the bodyguard punched him, breaking his nose, court documents state.
Mr. Brown denied hitting the man or being part of the confrontation. A woman who asked the singer for a photo with him and her friend told police that Mr. Brown threw the first punch at Mr. Parker after he tried to get into the picture with the group.