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Chris Brown charged with felonies in alleged attack on Rihanna

March 5, 2009 | 10:20 am

Update: Brown beat, bit and threatened to kill Rihanna, prosecutors allege.

Nearly a month after pop star Rihanna was found battered and bleeding on a Hancock Park street, prosecutors have charged singer Chris Brown with felony assault and making criminal threats.

The charges carry a sentence ranging from probation to almost five years in prison, according to prosecutors. Brown, who is free on $50,000 bail, is due to be arraigned on the charge this afternoon in Los Angeles Superior Court. Brown was arrested Feb. 8, the day of the Grammy Awards, after LAPD officers responded to a 911 call reporting an assault on a quiet, tree-lined street near Beverly Boulevard.

When officers arrived, they found an injured Rihanna and Brown’s rented Lamborghini, but no sign of the R&B singer.

According to a search warrant obtained by Fox 11 News, the assault began when Rihanna, whose full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, read Brown a text message while they were driving home from a pre-Grammy party in Beverly Hills. The content of the message apparently enraged Brown, 19, who, according to the warrant, tried to force Rihanna out of the car. Only her seat belt kept her inside the vehicle, the warrant alleged. Brown punched her several times while he was driving, splattering the interior of the luxury vehicle with blood, according to the warrant.

During the alleged attack, Rihanna phoned her assistant and told her to call police, according to the warrant. Brown continued to assault her, biting her ear and fingers and, at one point, threatening to kill her, the warrant alleged.

Brown surrendered to police that evening and was booked for suspicion of criminal threats. He subsequently issued a statement apologizing for the incident.  Rihanna, who has never been identified publicly by police, was treated at a medical facility after the incident, a police source said. The gossip website TMZ.com published a photo of the 21-year-old’s bruised and scratched face. The Police Department launched an ongoing investigation to determine if any of its personnel sold or otherwise leaked the picture.

-- Harriet Ryan and Richard Winton