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Two charged in case involving Patti LaBelle appear in court

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Two employees of soul singer Patti LaBelle made a brief court appearance Wednesday morning. They are charged with assault over a fight with a West Point cadet at Bush Intercontinental Airport back in March.

The two defendants were in court, where the judge heard the details of the charge against them.

Norma Harris, the 63-year-old hairdresser for LaBelle, and 43-year-old bodyguard Efrem Holmes stood before a judge for the first time since being charged in the March 11 assault of former West Point cadet Richard King. The whole incident was caught on surveillance video.

The 23-year-old King says he was beaten by the pair while he was talking on his cell phone just outside of the terminal at IAH. On the tape, you could see the altercation.

The defendants have a far different version from King's. Their attorney revealed their defense strategy Wednesday, claiming King's blood alcohol level was .285 -- more than three times the legal limit for DWI, which is .08. The defense says that came from the hospital report, and prosecutors did not dispute it.

While King wasn't behind the wheel, the defense claims he posed a threat to LaBelle, because of his alleged intoxication and demeanor. They claim he was harassing the singer and trying to get into the limo.

The defense says they are attempting to get his records from West Point to use in the case. King was kicked out of West Point after the altercation and is suing LaBelle in civil court.

Neither the prosecution nor the defense would comment on the case on camera. But the defense says they have a reliable witness who saw the whole thing, and says King was apologetic to LaBelle after the scuffle.

If convicted, Holmes and Harris could be sentenced to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. Their next court appearance is scheduled for September 14.

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