Chris Brown Pleads Not Guilty in Rihanna Assault Case
Rihanna, who skipped Monday's hearing, is in Barbados and "doing fine," says her lawyer
The case of the People versus Chris Brown continues.
The musician pleaded not guilty in a Los Angeles courtroom Monday to two felony counts – assault and making criminal threats – in the alleged Feb. 8 beating of his girlfriend Rihanna.
Brown, looking solemn, wearing a black sweater, black tie and matching pants, entered the courtroom at 3:30 p.m. followed by his mother, who looked distressed but cracked a smile at a friend in the courtroom.
Asked by Judge Patricia Schnegg for his plea for both charges, Brown answered “not guilty” to each one in a barely audible voice. The judge set the next hearing for April 29.
Brown’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, told the judge that “more discovery was needed” in the case, meaning that he is awaiting review of more evidence. Rihanna was not present nor required to show at the hearing.
Brown allegedly punched, choked, and threatened to kill Rihanna in a fight just hours before their scheduled performance at the Grammys, according to a search warrant affidavit.
If convicted, Brown, 19, faces probation to a maximum four years and eight months in state prison, prosecutors say.
As for Rihanna, her attorney Donald Etra told PEOPLE outside the courtroom, “Nothing’s changed with regard to Rihanna’s stance toward this case … She will testify if subpoenaed and will do everything that’s required of her to do.” Currently the singer, is “doing fine,” says Etra. “She’s in Barbados now with her family.”
Legal experts contend the case will likely end with Brown accepting a plea deal on lesser charges, with anywhere from a jail sentence of 30 to 180 days in addition to three to five years of probation.
“A plea deal would be the quickest and least messy way to end this case,” says L.A. criminal defense attorney Jeffery Rubenstein, who’s not involved with the case. “It would also let Rihanna off the hook from testifying in court.”
Asked about efforts between prosecutors and Geragos to come to a plea deal, Rihanna’s lawyer said Monday, “I believe there are efforts by all parties involved to resolve this case expeditiously. That would be beneficial to everyone. Rihanna would be pleased if this case were resolved quickly and fairly.”
Brown and Rihanna, 21, have remained in contact but are taking a break from their relationship, a source tells PEOPLE.
The “Umbrella” singer has recently been jet-setting between L.A., Honolulu, New York and Barbados. She was spotted Saturday at a concert in her home country, where she was seen exchanging greetings with the prime minister of Barbados.
Brown, meanwhile, has been keeping a low profile – working, playing basketball and receiving counseling.