Tests confirm third Brown child

Staff
James Brown left a will that provided for six of his children and established a trust for any grandchildren. It's unclear, however, if that trust has any money.

James Brown's brood just got a little bigger, and it might keep growing as more DNA test results come back.

The number of positives is up to three, estate trustee Buddy Dallas said Monday. About a dozen people have undergone paternity testing, and some have already been ruled out as Mr. Brown's children, he said.

Mr. Dallas and Rodney Peeples, an attorney for the trustees, have declined to identify the late Godfather of Soul's newly confirmed offspring.

One of the three is LaRhonda Petitt, a 45-year-old retired flight attendant and teacher living in Houston, whose mother had a relationship with the performer in the early 1960s in Los Angeles. Ms. Petitt gave The Augusta Chronicle a document from North Carolina-based LabCorp, which Mr. Dallas said has been conducting the tests, showing a 99.99 percent probability that she's Mr. Brown's daughter.

A woman living in Florida told The Chronicle she tested positive, but she said she does not want to go public.

Paternity on another possible child is still being debated.

Mr. Dallas has asked that a DNA test be done on James Brown II, the 6-year-old child born to the singer's disputed fourth wife more than 10 months after the entertainer's will was drafted. The trustee said in court papers that Mr. Brown questioned whether the boy was his son and asked that paternity be confirmed after his death. The child's mother, who was also left out of the will and has challenged it as Mr. Brown's "omitted spouse," has steadfastly refused to allow a paternity test to be conducted unless the singer's other children undergo DNA testing.

Mr. Brown, who died in Atlanta on Christmas Day, named six children as heirs in his will: sons Daryl Brown, Larry Brown and Terry Brown; and daughters Deanna Brown Thomas, Yamma Brown Lumar and Vanisha Brown. They inherited household furnishings and other personal belongings.

The bulk of Mr. Brown's estate - the rights to his music and likeness - were placed in two educational trusts, although attorneys for Mrs. Brown and several of the children dispute that they are legally valid.

Whether any unacknowledged children confirmed to be the music legend's offspring can also challenge the will for inheritance is unclear. Their children, however, could be entitled to school funds as Mr. Brown's grandchildren through the James Brown Family Education Trust, but whether the trust has any money is also uncertain.

Mrs. Brown's Charleston-based attorney, Robert Rosen, said in an e-mail Monday that any adult children found through DNA testing were deliberately left out of the will, so they should not be able to claim any inheritance. However, Mr. Brown would not have been able to intentionally exclude children born after he signed his will, Mr. Rosen said.

James II's court-appointed guardian ad litem has filed papers in Aiken County Court, arguing that the boy should receive inheritance from Mr. Brown's estate as if the singer had died without a will.

"Clearly James II has a valid claim as, among other reasons, he was born after the will," Mr. Rosen said.

Reach Sandi Martin at (803) 648-1395 ext. 111 or sandi.martin@augustachronicle.com.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.