LOS ANGELES — Chris Brown briefly appeared in court Thursday, hours after he was charged with two felonies stemming from what a police detective describes as a brutal argument between the singer and his girlfriend, Rihanna.
Brown's arraignment was postponed until April 6 on charges of assault likely to cause great bodily injury and making criminal threats. The 19-year-old R&B singer remains free on $50,000 bail.
A court commissioner ordered him not to harass, threaten or harm anyone. At the request of Donald Etra, an attorney representing Rihanna, the commissioner did not order Brown to stay away from her.
Brown, wearing a three-piece gray pinstripe suit with gray tie and cream shirt, clasped his hands behind his back as he walked into the courtroom. He answered a few questions from the commissioner as his mother watched from the front row along with a group of family members.
Details released Thursday offer a starkly different portrait of Brown than the squeaky-clean image he has cultivated. The young man once praised for his Michael Jackson-esque dance moves is described in a detective's affidavit as punching his girlfriend, biting her ear and trying to choke her until she nearly lost consciousness.
He rose to fame after the 2005 hit "Run It!" and his popularity has only grown. He was nominated for a Grammy for "No Air" with Jordin Sparks and named Billboard's top artist in 2008.
His arrest prompted an exodus of sponsors and a retreat into secrecy for both Brown and Rihanna. The couple were among the marquee names scheduled to appear and perform at the Grammys Feb. 8, but the alleged attack forced both to cancel their appearances.
The courtroom was filled Thursday with onlookers and media for Brown's brief appearance. He and his attorney did not speak to reporters after the hearing.
The felony complaint handed down in court Thursday morning identifies Brown's alleged victim only as "Robyn F." (Rihanna's real name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty.) The "Disturbia" singer's attorney, Etra, also identified her as Brown's alleged victim.
Etra declined to say whether Rihanna would testify against Brown, or whether the couple had reunited. "I'm not here to discuss the relationship," he said.
If convicted, Brown's possible sentence ranges anywhere from probation to four years and eight months in state prison, said district attorney's spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons.
According to a detective's affidavit, Brown and Rihanna got into a fight early Feb. 8 after she checked her boyfriend's cell phone and found a text message from another woman.
Brown pulled his car over and tried to push Rihanna out, but she was still wearing her seatbelt, Los Angeles police Detective De Shon Andrews wrote. Brown pushed Rihanna's head against the window, punched her with his right hand, and then continued driving while hitting her, the affidavit states. He also bit his girlfriend on the ear, the affidavit states.
The affidavit was filed as part of a search warrant request for the phone records of Brown, Rihanna and her assistant.
Brown allegedly threatened to kill Rihanna after she pretended to leave a phone message with her assistant, telling her to have the police waiting at her house.
Andrews described Brown's blows as causing Rihanna's mouth to fill with blood. He also writes that Brown tried to choke Rihanna after she took the keys to his car away. Andrews wrote that Rihanna nearly lost consciousness but also tried to fight back while in the car, at one point trying to gouge at Brown's eyes.
Brown was arrested hours later and booked him on suspicion of making criminal threats. Her identity has been an open secret since the alleged attack; police have never publicly released her name, but numerous news outlets have reported her identity based on anonymous sources.
A Barbados-born pop singer, Rihanna recorded one of 2007's most popular songs with "Umbrella" and has numerous other hits. Her stunning looks have made the Barbados native a cover girl for magazines, as well as a pitchwoman for Cover Girl cosmetics.
According to Andrews' affidavit, Brown and Rihanna started dating about a year and half ago. The couple have never officially confirmed their romance, but have been frequently spotted together, cuddling or holding hands.
Brown issued a statement a week after the incident saying that he was "sorry and saddened" about the incident. Rihanna also later issued a statement, saying she wouldn't comment on the alleged beating at the request of authorities. She thanked fans for their support.
Etra said he was present in court to protect Rihanna's rights in the criminal case. He stood alongside Brown's attorney during the hearing.
He said after the hearing Rihanna appreciates the "overwhelming support" the singer has received from fans worldwide.
He brushed aside questions seeking details about the fight, telling reporters, "The facts of the case will come out over time."