Eminem Faces Trial On Assault, Weapons Charges

If convicted, the rapper could receive 11 to 17 months in jail, prosecutor says.

WARREN, Mich. — A judge on Thursday (Aug. 31) ordered Eminem to stand trial on assault and weapons charges, after the Grammy-winning rapper waived his right to a preliminary court hearing.

Flanked by his lawyers in a brief court appearance, Eminem (born Marshall Bruce Mathers III) showed no emotion during the proceeding. He told 37th District Visiting Judge Sherman Faunce that he understood that by forgoing the hearing he was giving up his right to cross-examine witnesses before the case reaches trial in Macomb County Circuit Court.

Outside the courthouse, defense attorney Walter Piszczatowski told reporters the hip-hop superstar had nothing to gain in demanding the preliminary hearing.

"We think we're going to be able to handle the case favorably, and we're looking forward to getting it behind us," Piszczatowski said.

Eminem is charged with carrying a concealed weapon and assault with a dangerous weapon. Police and prosecutors allege he pistol-whipped John Guerra with an unloaded 9 mm handgun, after Eminem allegedly saw his now-estranged wife kiss Guerra outside Hot Rock Sports Bar and Music Café on June 4.

Kimberly Scott Mathers — who did not attend Eminem's hearing — is charged with disturbing the peace, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail. Warren police said she tried to intervene on her husband's behalf in the bar parking lot after officers arrived at the scene.

At the courthouse, police officers outnumbered about a half-dozen fans who waited more than three hours for the start of the hearing. In June, dozens of fans descended on the facility for a chance to see Eminem in person.

Jennifer Ball, 17, convinced her mother to let her make the 12-hour trip from Minnesota on Wednesday for a chance to see the country's hottest-selling rap artist. Ball said she has attended one Eminem concert, and during the trip mom and daughter listened to his CDs.

"I wanted to see him up close," Ball said. "I just like his music and that he'll say anything and not be afraid."

Guerra, 26, the key defense witness in the case, wasn't so excited to see Eminem in court.

"It's brought back some bad memories," he said.

The Warren resident has filed a civil lawsuit against Eminem, alleging assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He seeks at least $25,000 in damages.

Testimony in that case is not expected to begin for about a year, said Guerra's lawyer, John Gaber.

Judge Faunce also granted the defense's request to ease bond restrictions limiting the famous defendant's travel. Eminem is free to go anywhere in the world, but Piszczatowski said he will let police know of his client's whereabouts.

Eminem now awaits a pretrial conference set for Sept. 25.

Carrying a concealed weapon and assault with a dangerous weapon are felonies carrying maximum sentences of five and four years, respectively. Barring a plea bargain, Macomb County Prosecutor Carl Marlinga has already said the beleaguered rap star could face 11 to 17 months in jail if convicted of the concealed weapons charge, based on his previously unblemished criminal record.

Eminem also awaits trial in neighboring Oakland County on one count each of carrying a concealed weapon and brandishing a weapon, a 90-day misdemeanor. Those charges stem from an alleged altercation with a backup member of the group Insane Clown Posse about nine hours before the Hot Rock bar scuffle.