The woman who claims to be James Brown’s fourth wife returned to the home she shared with the singer, after a judge ruled Friday that she could retrieve her belongings.
Tomi Rae Hynie said she has been locked out of the Beech Island home since Brown died Christmas Day at age 73. She went into the home Friday afternoon with the estate’s trustees and three of Brown’s six adult children and left with a few personal items, including a dress and other clothing, said Buddy Dallas, a trustee and attorney for the singer.
Hynie said she or her attorney will come back later for larger items, like furniture.
Judge Doyet Early said Hynie also could take pictures and videotape of the inside of the house if she wanted. If there is any dispute between Hynie and trustees about whether something belongs to her, that item will be set aside until its ownership can be clarified later, Early said.
Hynie, who wore a wedding band to Friday’s hearing, says she and Brown were married, which is disputed by Brown’s attorneys. The judge offered to hear arguments on that issue Friday, but Hynie’s attorney said he would present that case another day.
The singer’s six adult children were in court in an attempt to remove three trustees who are handling the late singer’s estate. They claim the estate has been mismanaged. Although their relationship has been strained in recent weeks, the children and Hynie are united in a separate action asking for a special administrator to be appointed to oversee the trust.
Hynie hugged Brown’s oldest daughter, Venisha Brown, after court was adjourned.
Attorneys for the trustees said they plan a countersuit. An attorney handling Brown’s will, Strom Thurmond Jr., asked the Aiken County judge for a restraining order and injunction against the children, saying they have interfered with the administration of the estate.
“From the moment they tried to act as personal representatives, we have been met with contempt,” Thurmond said.
Louis Levenson, an attorney for Brown’s children, claimed trustees allowed taxes to go unpaid and a judgment over a land sale to go unanswered.
Hynie’s attorney also claimed bills were unpaid and electricity was cut off while the representatives were in charge of Brown’s estate.
“We think we need a special administrator,” said Hynie’s attorney Robert Rosen. “There is so much at stake in this case.”
The judge said he would decide next week on the children’s request either to remove the trustees or appoint a special administrator for the estate. He also ordered that no personal items be sold from Brown’s home to pay off bills.
The singer’s embalmed body remains at an undisclosed location in the same sealed, gold casket seen at his funeral awaiting a decision on where to bury it, officials at the funeral home that handled Brown’s funeral confirmed Friday.
The judge told the children, Hynie and the trustees to not discuss burial plans with the media and to try to resolve that issue among themselves.