Boyish pop star Chris Brown pleaded not guilty in a Los Angeles court today to pummeling his girlfriend Rihanna, People reports. Solemn and dressed in black, Brown murmured "not guilty" on two felony counts—making criminal threats and assault—while his mother Joyce Hawkins sat in the front row. The judge told Brown to return on April 29 for his next hearing.
Brown faces 5 years in prison if convicted, but his lawyers are negotiating a plea deal for a lesser charge. Legal experts call this a likely outcome. "A plea deal would be the quickest and least messy way to end this case," one defense attorney said. "It would also let Rihanna off the hook from testifying in court." Rihanna is "doing fine" in Barbados with her family, her lawyer said.