January 4, 2007
AUGUSTA, Ga.---Was Tomi Rae Hynie really married to the late James Brown?
That's a burning question many people want answered.
12 is on your side with documents to help clear up some rumors, and we hear from the pastor who says he performed the marriage ceremony.
More than a week after the death of James Brown, questions remain as to whether Tomi Rae Brown was ever married to the entertainer.
Last night, Tomi Rae appeared on national television to talk about Mr. Brown's death, and she defended their relationship.
The day after Mr. Brown's death is when this all began, and it doesn't look like we're close to a resolution.
But tonight we hear more of that interview with Tomi Rae, and for the first time, we hear from the pastor who married the couple.
"They told me he just had pneumonia and the doctors were working on him...he'd be okay," Tomi Rae told interviewer Larry King.
Less than a week after the homegoing services for the Godfather of Soul, Tomi Rae went on national television last night.
"Reverend Sharpton said from the pulpit, from the microphone above my husband's body, that the whole family had a part in arranging this funeral," Tomi Rae said. "And the whole family did not. Because the whole family ignored me. They never called me."
Tomi Rae says most of the friction began when she was locked out of Brown's Beech Island home. Brown's attorney Buddy Dallas claimed at that time she was not legally married to the entertainer because she was already married to a Texas man.
News 12 obtained the marriage license showing James Brown and Tomi Rae were married in 2001, and we also have papers showing Tomi Rae's marriage to the Texas man was annulled--but that wasn't until 2004.
Now the question is whether the timing of the annulment makes her marriage to Brown unofficial.
"There was an official wedding ceremony that took place," said Rev. Larry Fryer, who officiated the marriage between Brown and Tomi Rae. He says he was unaware any problems back then, but says he knows what Mr. Brown's intentions concerning the marriage were.
"Mr. Brown would have wanted it to be consummated, and that there would be the marriage between the both of them when he was living, because I talked with him often times at his home about his marriage," Rev. Fryer said.
While details of the will have not been made public and much of the dispute is set to be taken up in court, Rev. Fryer says he believes things will soon be resolved.
"I think as Buddy Dallas and here all get together, these are things they are going to iron out," he said.
After Tomi Rae's interview last night, one of Mr. Brown's attorneys, Debra Opri, said Tomi Rae violated signed agreements by talking about her and Mr. Brown's relationship publicly.
Mr. Brown's daughters are expected to make a statement tonight.
Here's a timeline of the events surrounding the marriage.
In 1997, Tomi Rae married Texas man Javed Ahmed.
Then in December 2001, Tomi Rae and Mr. Brown wed at his Beech Island home.
In April 2004, the marriage between Tomi Rae and Ahmed was annulled.
And in 2005, Mr. Brown sought an annulment for his marriage with Tomi Rae, but the legal proceedings were not finalized.