WARREN, Mich. — A team of lawyers representing Eminem on assault and weapons charges has not yet decided whether the rap superstar will testify on Thursday at a hearing in a Michigan courtroom.
The defense lawyers may urge Macomb County's most recognizable defendant to waive his right to the preliminary examination and proceed to trial in a few months on the two felony counts.
"In these cases, where it involves an unloaded firearm — and I want to emphasize unloaded — it may be best for a client to waive [the court exam]," Brian Legghio, one of the defense lawyers on the case, said on Tuesday. "You're always concerned about a witness who may reach, embellish and stretch their testimony," he said.
Eminem, born Marshall Bruce Mathers III, is accused of clubbing 26-year-old John Guerra, after the rap artist allegedly saw his now-estranged wife kissing Guerra in the parking lot of the Hot Rocks Sports Bar and Music Café here June 4. Eminem, 27, faces one count each of carrying a concealed weapon and assault with a dangerous weapon. The former charge carries a maximum five-year sentence; the latter a four-year sentence.
Macomb County Prosecutor Carl Marlinga has said Eminem could face a sentence of 11 to 17 months if convicted of the more serious charge, based on Eminem having no prior criminal record at the time and admitting the gun was his.
The case is just one in a series of mounting legal woes for the country's hottest rapper. Last month, Eminem filed for divorce from Kimberly Scott Mathers after 14 months of marriage. He cited a "breakdown in the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved," according to court documents.
Eminem initially sought joint legal and physical custody of the couple's 4-year-old daughter, Hailie. But in Macomb County Family Court on Monday, physical custody of the young girl was granted to Kimberly Mathers, while both parents were awarded joint legal custody. At the same time, Kimberly Mathers, 25, dropped a $10 million suit in which she alleged intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Eminem's mother, Debbie Mathers-Briggs, has filed two defamation lawsuits against him, over remarks he allegedly made against her in separate magazine reports. She seeks $11 million in damages.
The rapper also faces criminal charges from a June 3 altercation involving an associate of the Insane Clown Posse at a car audio shop in Royal Oak, Mich. Police and witnesses said the two men exchanged heated words and that a handgun fell from Eminem's pants. Prosecutors later charged Eminem with carrying a concealed weapon and brandishing a weapon in public. The latter count is a 90-day misdemeanor. In that case, Eminem has waived his right to a probable-cause hearing. A pretrial conference will be held in September, Legghio said.
The incident occurred about nine hours before the altercation outside Hot Rocks Sports Bar and Music Café in nearby Warren, a city of 140,000 where Eminem grew up and still has friends. The county prosecutor said Eminem, driven to the bar by a male friend, was spying on Kimberly Mathers when he allegedly saw her kiss Guerra. Eminem struck Guerra with the unloaded handgun, officials said. Guerra later sued Eminem, claiming assault and emotional distress. He seeks at least $25,000, the threshold in Michigan for a civil complaint filed in circuit court.
Police and court officials in Warren are bracing for news agencies and fans to descend on the 37th District Court for Thursday's preliminary exam.
"We intend to have increased police security, primarily because of the anticipated large crowds, not because we foresee any problem," Court Administrator James Conrad said. "We will allow the public into the courtroom to the extent we are able to," he said. District Judge Dawnn Gruenberg's courtroom has only 42 seats.
"We may assign people for crowd control," Warren Deputy Police Chief Roger Barnett said.
Police commanders do not plan to increase police presence at the courthouse by calling in officers to work overtime. Instead, supervisors will redirect patrol officers already on duty from other areas of the city, if necessary.
Meanwhile, Kimberly Mathers awaits an Oct. 24 trial on one count of disturbing the peace — a misdemeanor carrying a maximum sentence of 90 days — stemming from her role in the Warren incident. Police arrested her when she tried to intervene on her husband's behalf.