Harry R. Weber, AP, Dec. 26, 2006
James Brown’s lawyer says the late singer and his partner weren’t legally married and that she was locked out of his South Carolina home for estate legal reasons. The partner, one of Brown’s backup singers, says the couple was married and she can prove it.
The back and forth continued for most of Tuesday, as Tomi Rae Hynie, Brown’s partner and the mother of his 5-year-old son, camped out at an Augusta hotel with no change of clothes and no money.
Hynie was already married to a Texas man in 2001 when she married Brown, thus making her marriage to the “Godfather of Soul” null, Dallas said. He said Hynie later annulled the previous marriage, but she and Brown never remarried.
“I suppose it would mean she was, from time to time, a guest in Mr. Brown’s home,” Dallas said.
Brown, 73, died at an Atlanta hospital Monday. After his death, Hynie, 36, found the gates to the singer’s home padlocked and said she was denied access.
Hynie said the couple had planned to renew their vows but not remarry. She indicated that while annulment papers relating to her previous marriage initially may not have been filed properly, a judge had told her she was legally married to Brown.
Dallas said legal formalities needed to be followed, adding that Brown’s estate was left in trust for his children. He declined to elaborate on Brown’s final instructions.
“Ms. Hynie has a home a few blocks away from Mr. Brown’s home where she resides periodically when she is not with Mr. Brown,” Dallas said. “She is not without housing or home.”
Hynie said she believes Brown’s representatives were trying to discredit her so that his estate wouldn’t have to be shared with her. She acknowledged that the bulk of the estate was left to Brown’s children, but said Brown had told her she could live in his home with their child as long as she wanted.
Hynie and Brown had a sometimes tumultuous relationship. Brown pleaded guilty in 2004 to a domestic violence charge stemming from an argument with Hynie and paid a $1,087 fine. He was accused of pushing Hynie to the floor at the home and threatening to kill her.
Brown is survived by at least four children, said his agent, Frank Copsidas.