James Brown's marriage may not be legal

According to James Brown’s attorney, Buddy Dallas, the woman who called herself the late singer’s wife was already married to a Texas man at the time she married Brown in 2001, making the union null.

Backup singer Tomi Rae Hynie, 36, had her previous marriage annulled. However, she and Brown never remarried in an official ceremony. Dallas also noted that because Hynie was not legally Brown’s widow, she was locked out of his South Carolina mansion for estate reasons.

“It’s not a reflection on her as an individual,” he told the Associated Press. “I have not even been in the house, nor will I until appropriate protocol is followed.”

However, Hynie claims she has documentation proving she is Brown’s legal wife and that Brown’s representatives are trying to discredit her so she doesn’t share in the entertainer’s estate, which is set to be split by his children.

After arriving at the Brown’s Beech Island, S.C., home following his death, Hynie was met by security guards who were ordered by Dallas and accountant David Cannon to keep her locked out. She told reporters she was without money and a place to stay, and that James Brown wanted her and the couple’s 5-year-old son to remain living in the property.

Dallas said Hynie has her own place of residence and she was not left without shelter.

“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. She is not without housing or a home,” Dallas said.

The couple had not seen one another for several weeks before Brown’s death. Hynie claims he sent her on a California beach retreat to relax.

Hynie said: “My job (and) marriage were difficult. He sent me to the beach. He paid $24,000 for me to go.”

The couple’s tumultuous relationship included a 2004 domestic violence incident where Brown pleaded guilty to allegedly pushing her and threatening to kill her. He was fined $1,087.

Hynie is expected to meet with Brown spokesmen to support her claim that she was legally married to the Grammy Award winner. As of press time, the details of that meeting were unknown.

James Brown died on Christmas Day, Monday, Dec. 25, at an Augusta, Ga., hospital from congestive heart failure at age 73. He is survived by at least five children, five grandchildren and two-great grandchildren.

From the Jan. 3-9, 2007, issue

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