During a brief court appearance, a subdued Chris Brown pleaded not guilty Monday to felony charges of assaulting and threatening to kill Rihanna in February.
The 19-year-old singer arrived at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center at 3:24 p.m.in a black SUV, accompanied by his mother and four bodyguards. A coterie of sheriff's deputies escorted them into the building.
After hearing the counts against him—assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and making criminal threats—and being asked for his plea by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Patricia Schnegg, Brown answered with a hushed "not guilty, your honor."
Brown's legal camp, headed up by lead attorney Mark Geragos, has been busy trying to hammer out a plea deal with prosecutors that would prevent their client from having to serve any jail time. If convicted on both charges, he faces a maximum sentence of four years and eight months in prison.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for April 29.
Brown initially appeared at the courthouse in downtown Los Angeles March 5 to request a postponement. At the time, he was instructed by a judge to not "annoy, harass, molest, threaten or use force or violence against anyone."
Rihanna has gotten as far away from the situation as possible, returning home to Barbados late last week. She is still said to be cooperating with the L.A. District Attorney's Office on Brown's case, and her attorney, Donald Etra, was in court this afternoon.
"She would be pleased if this was over quickly," Etra told reporters following the hearing.
Fans, sign-wielding protesters and members of the media crowded outside the courthouse awaiting the arrival of the major players in the ongoing legal saga.
(Originally published April 6, 2009, at 3:37 p.m. PT)