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Chris Brown faces court hearing on Rihanna incident

March 4, 2009 |  3:53 pm

R&B singer Chris Brown is slated to appear in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom tomorrow on allegations that he assaulted his girlfriend, pop star Rihanna.

Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the L.A. County district attorney's office, said police have been giving prosecutors updates on the case over the last few weeks.

Brown was arrested Feb. 8 on suspicion of criminal threats and is free on $50,000 bail. Prosecutors have not charged him, but he must return to court as part of his bail release. Gibbons declined to say when or if he would be charged.

The arrest was made after Los Angeles Police Department officers responded to a 911 call Feb. 8 reporting an assault and found a woman visibly beaten and bruised on a Hancock Park street next to Brown’s rented Lamborghini. Rihanna, who has never been identified publicly by police, was treated after the incident, a police source said.

Prosecutors could file charges, decline the case or opt to let Brown remain free while they take more time to investigate the incident. In the aftermath, Brown, 19, issued a public apology. A photo of 21-year-old Robyn Rihanna Fenty’s battered, scratched and bloody face was leaked to the gossip website TMZ.com.

Since then, however, several media outlets have reported that the couple have reunited.

Legal experts say the district attorney’s office doesn’t shy away from pursuing criminal charges against a suspect in a domestic abuse case just because the couple reconciles.

Attorney Dmitry Gorin, a former deputy district attorney, said reconciliations in domestic violence cases are common, and victims often become uncooperative, but prosecutors build their cases assuming that will occur.

“Frequently, couples get back together and say they have mended their relationship. But for the district attorney, a crime was still committed, and it’s a matter of proving it beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said.

Gorin said that when prosecuting such cases a deputy district attorney seeks evidence that the injuries could not be self-inflicted and statements by others corroborating the incident. “It is easier than you think. The victim’s statements are preserved in written or audio form,” he said. “Every time I had a case as a prosecutor where the victim later said it didn’t happen the jury convicted the person based on the other evidence.”

The fight occurred as the couple pulled onto a quiet block in Hancock Park. According to police, several people saw or heard a loud, violent confrontation. The luxury car was impounded because the alleged assault began in the vehicle, and investigators scoured it for evidence.

-- Richard Winton