ATLANTA (AP) - James Brown's lawyer said Tuesday that the late singer and his partner were not legally married and that she was locked out of his South Carolina home for estate legal reasons.
"It's not a reflection on her as an individual," lawyer Buddy Dallas told The Associated Press. "I have not even been in the house, nor will I until appropriate protocol is followed."
Brown's partner, backup singer Tomi Rae Hynie, was already married to a Texas man in 2001 when she married Brown, thus making her marriage to Brown null, Dallas said. He said Hynie later annulled the previous marriage, but she and Brown never remarried.
"I suppose it would mean she was, from time to time, a guest in Mr. Brown's home," Dallas said.
On Monday, after the 73-year-old "Godfather of Soul" died at an Atlanta hospital, Hynie, 36, found the gates to Brown's Beech Island, S.C., home padlocked and said she was denied access.
Hynie argued that she has a legal right to live in the home with the couple's 5-year-old son.
"This is my home," Hynie told a reporter outside the house. "I don't have any money. I don't have anywhere to go."
Dallas said legal formalities need to be followed now, adding that Brown's estate was left in trust for his children. He declined to elaborate on Brown's final instructions.
"It's not intended and I hope not interpreted to be an act of unkindness or an act of a lack of sympathy," Dallas said. "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 home."
Dallas said Brown and Hynie had not seen each other for several weeks before his death.
The couple had had a sometimes tumultuous relationship. Brown pleaded guilty in 2004 to a domestic violence charge stemming from an argument with Hynie and was let off with a $1,087 fine. He was accused of pushing Hynie to the floor at the home and threatening to kill her.
Hynie could not be reached Tuesday for further comment. A lawyer who has represented her in the past, Robert Rosen, was out of the country and could not be reached, according to a receptionist in his Charleston, S.C., office.