Rock singer Rick James and his girlfriend were ordered Thursday to stand trial on charges that they tortured a woman with a hot cocaine pipe and forced her to have sex.
James, 43, and Tanya Anne Hijazi, 21, are to be tried in San Fernando Superior Court on charges of aggravated mayhem, assault with a deadly weapon, torture, false imprisonment and forced oral copulation of Hijazi. They face life imprisonment if convicted on all counts.
James, who scoffed and laughed with Hijazi from the defendants' table during the two-day preliminary hearing before Municipal Judge John C. Gunn, was visibly upset as he left the courtroom.
"Take care, Myron," said James as he walked out glaring at Deputy Dist. Atty. Myron L. Jenkins. Jenkins had unsuccessfully sought to have bail revoked for both defendants.
Outside the courtroom, Robert M. Sheahen, one of James' two attorneys, said Jenkins' request to revoke bail was an attempt to save a case that was falling apart. The singer, best known for his 1981 hit "Super Freak," has denied all charges and his attorneys have portrayed the 24-year-old woman as a drug addict seeking a civil settlement and publicity.
Gunn acknowledged from the bench that there were many inconsistencies in the testimony of the woman, including statements on when she moved to California from her native Georgia, and the chronology of incidents that occurred at James' Hollywood Hills home above Studio City.
But Gunn said testimony from James' maid, Dinorah Zumbado, that she saw Hijazi crying and observed a knife being heated was enough of an independent account to warrant a trial.
The woman claims that James used a cocaine pipe, a kitchen knife and a cigarette lighter to burn her legs, knees and stomach after accusing her of stealing some of his cocaine.
She said the three of them had used cocaine almost nonstop for a week when the alleged abuses took place.
The woman testified that she thought Hijazi also had been a victim, which Hijazi's attorney, Leonard B. Levine, unsuccessfully tried to use to have the charges dropped against his client.
A trial date is to be set on Sept. 26.
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