Originally created 05/06/04

Bobby Brown to stand trial



ATLANTA - R&B singer Bobby Brown was ordered to stand trial Wednesday on charges that he hit his wife, fellow singer Whitney Houston.

Mr. Brown and Ms. Houston exchanged smiles during a five-minute hearing in which Judge Barry Zimmerman ruled there was enough evidence to continue with the case against Mr. Brown.

The singer was ordered to turn himself in to authorities July 10 or 11 for fingerprinting. He would then be released on a $2,000 bond. The judge also warned Mr. Brown against having "violent contact" with Ms. Houston.

The couple left the courtroom walking arm-in-arm and made no comment to reporters and television cameras waiting outside.

Mr. Brown's attorney, Maurice Bennett, said the judge's decision was expected.

Simple battery is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Normally on a first offense in domestic-violence cases, the charge is dismissed if the defendant undergoes counseling.

No date was set for when the case will be heard in state court.

"It could be as much as a year down the road," said Lanny Lipsky, senior court clerk.

Ms. Houston called police Dec. 7 to report that Mr. Brown threatened to beat her "and then struck the left side of her face with an open right hand," a Fulton County police report said.

Mr. Brown addressed the report's specifics in an April interview with Dateline NBC, saying: "I got big hands, man. I would hurt her, you know? It would be more than just a little cut on the lip."

Mr. Brown further described the incident as a "little spat." He said the two were playfully "slap boxing" and Ms. Houston took one of his jabs a "little serious."

Ms. Houston's publicist in Los Angeles, Nancy Seltzer, did not return messages left by the Associated Press.

Mr. Brown has been jailed twice this year. In February, he spent a month in jail for multiple probation violations before being released a month early for a March child-support hearing in Massachusetts. There, he spent another night in jail before paying a former lover more than $60,000 in back child-support payments.

Mr. Brown and Ms. Houston have been married since 1992 and have a 10-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina.

On Tuesday, Mr. Brown fired his previous attorney, Vincent Dimmock.