AIKEN, S.C. – The woman who claims to be James Brown's fourth wife planned to return to the home she shared with the singer, after a judge ruled Friday that she could retrieve her belongings.
Tomi Rae Hynie says she has been locked out of the Beech Island home since Brown died Christmas Day at age 73. She was to go into the home Friday afternoon with the estate's trustees.
"I'm happy to be getting my things and my son's things," Hynie said after the hearing.
Judge Doyet Early said Hynie also could take pictures and videotape of the inside of the house if she wanted. If there is any dispute between Hynie and trustees about whether something belongs to her, that item will be set aside until its ownership can be clarified later, Early said.
Hynie, who wore a wedding band to Friday's hearing, says she and Brown were married, which is disputed by Brown's attorneys. The judge offered to hear arguments on that issue Friday, but Hynie's attorney said he would present that case another day.
Hynie and the singer's six adult children were in court in an attempt to remove three trustees who are handling the late singer's estate. They claim the estate has been mismanaged. Although their relationship has been strained in recent weeks, the children and Hynie appeared united in efforts to have the trustees removed.
Hynie hugged Brown's oldest daughter, Venisha Brown, after the hearing.
Attorneys for the trustees said they plan a countersuit. An attorney handling Brown's will, Strom Thurmond Jr., asked the Aiken County judge for a restraining order against the children, saying they have interfered with the administration of the estate.
The judge said he would decide next week on the children's request either to remove the trustees or appoint a special administrator for the estate.
"We think we need a special administrator," said Hynie's attorney Robert Rosen. "There is so much at stake in this case."
The singer's embalmed body remains at an undisclosed location, in the same sealed, gold casket seen at his funeral, awaiting a decision on where to bury it, officials at the funeral home that handled Brown's funeral confirmed Friday.
The judge told the children, Hynie and the trustees to not discuss burial plans with the media and to try to resolve that issue among themselves.