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Grand Jury to Decide on Assault Case Against Hank Williams Jr.

A grand jury will decide whether country singer Hank Williams Jr. will stand trial on misdemeanor assault charges filed after a cocktail waitress said he yelled obscenities and choked her at a local hotel.

Criminal Court Judge Gwen Rooks ruled Monday that probable cause was established and bound the case over to a Shelby County grand jury.

The waitress, Holly Hornbeak, testified that she had red marks and bruising on her neck and that she was hoarse the next day.

A private attorney hired by her parents demanded $250,000 from Williams two days later, but Hornbeak denied that the case was being driven by money.

"It was a serious attack and this is not something you take lightly," said Hornbeak, who was 19 when the incident allegedly occurred in the Peabody hotel's lobby bar March 18.

Afterward, she said, Williams' publicist, Kirt Webster, gave her his phone number and offered her tickets to a Williams concert that weekend.

Williams, 57, who lives in Paris, Tenn., remains free on his own recognizance. Assault carries up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

Williams sat quietly as his attorney, Leslie Ballin, sought to portray the incident as "a hijacking" rather than as an assault.

"She didn't go to a doctor, she didn't take pictures of these alleged red marks and bruises. C'mon now," Ballin said later as Williams stood at his side smiling. "Talking about victims? I'm representing one here. This is an attempt at a financial hijacking. There was no assault."

Williams would not comment on the case.

"You know what's going to happen?" Williams said to reporters. "I'm going to go have some good old Memphis barbecue right now."

Williams has had a string of No. 1 hits including "Family Tradition" and "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight." He has sung the theme for "Monday Night Football" since 1989.

At the time of the alleged incident, he was staying in Memphis while his daughters Holly Williams and Hilary Williams were recovering from injuries suffered in a March 15 car crash near Dundee, Miss.