December 26, 2006
AUGUSTA, Ga.---Funeral arrangements have just been confirmed, and James Brown's widow is out in the cold. But was Tomi Rae Hynie really his wife?
The body of James Brown was brought back to Augusta from Atlanta this afternoon. Rev. Al Sharpton was at the C.A. Reed Senior Memorial Funeral Home to offer support to Mr. Brown's family.
Funeral plans are complete. On Thursday, Mr. Brown will lie in state at the Apollo Theater in New York from 1 until 8 o'clock. A private ceremony for family will be held Friday in Augusta, and on Saturday, a ceremony for the public will be held at 1 o'clock at the James Brown Arena, with the Rev. Al Sharpton officiating.
Mr. Brown's body will be buried near the arena off Sand Bar Ferry Road, next to where his father and mother are buried.
Mr. Brown's producer and longtime friend Charles Bobbitt had this to say yesterday: "He was all for children, all for America, and all for love. His thing was, 'I never met a person that I didn't love. I've met a person that I didn't like, but I've never met a person that I didn't love'."
Those words were echoed by many folks in Augusta today.
Mr. Brown's family is now at his Beech Island home. However, one woman is not there. Tomi Rae Hynie is the Augusta woman who was by James Brown's side on and off for almost a decade. She says she is his legal wife; however, longtime Brown friend and attorney Buddy Dallas says she was only his estranged girlfriend.
It's a legal battle that was first made public at the gates of Brown's estate home in Beech Island. Hynie was photographed at the gates and claimed she was locked out.
Tomi Rae Hynie shared her emotions over her husband's death openly with Augusta at his statue on News 12, and now she's telling everyone that the Godfather of Soul was in fact her husband. She says she is hurt by recent allegations that she wasn't the legal wife of James Brown, only his estranged girlfriend.
"It's a blatant lie," she told News 12. "I just don't understand. I really don't. I'm confused and I'm very hurt."
Brown's attorney and longtime friend Buddy Dallas says the marriage never existed because Tomi Rae was already married at the same time she exchanged vows with Brown in 2001.
"I got married 12 or 13 years ago, and I got married for about 24 hours," Tomi Rae said.
She says she married the man for love, but claims he married her for a green card...and paid to have the marriage annulled.
"This is what fraud is," Tomi Rae said. "When you take a young girl who is vulnerable and pretend to marry her under false pretenses. That's fraud."
She says once she and Brown found out the marriage had never been legally annulled, they went to Charleston together to finish the paperwork.
"Judge Segars Andrews ruled it void inabnicio, which is one step further from an annulment," Tomi Rae said. "What that means is, it is void from the start and everything after that is legal and valid."
Tomi Rae says she does have the documents from Charleston to prove her claims, but they are locked up in the Beech Island home she shared with Brown until his death.
Attorney Buddy Dallas adds that battling for the estate is premature. He is grieving the loss of his dear friend, Augusta is grieving the loss of its favorite son, and the world is grieving the loss of the Godfather.
Tomi Rae was not by Brown's side when he died. She says she was seeking treatment at a California retreat for her addiction to medication. She says Brown encouraged her to go and that the two spoke every day up until his death. She added they had plans to renew their vows over Christmas here in Augusta.