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R&B singer Chris Brown to face the music at April assault trial

Chris Brown appears in court during a probation violation hearing in Los AngelesChris Brown appears in court during a probation violation hearing in Los Angeles

By Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Washington judge on Thursday set an April 17 trial for Grammy-winning R&B singer Chris Brown, who faces a misdemeanour assault charge stemming from an altercation outside a hotel.

Brown, 24, who is at a California facility undergoing anger management treatment, did not appear at the hearing and was represented by two lawyers.

In 2009, he was sentenced to five years' probation, community labour and domestic violence counselling after assaulting singer Rihanna, his girlfriend at the time.

Brown's probation was revoked following the Washington incident. A judge in Los Angeles turned down motion by prosecutors to jail Brown because of the assault charge, but ordered him to stay at a treatment facility for substance abuse and anger management.

District of Columbia Superior Court Senior Judge Geoffrey Alprin allowed him to stay in California while he receives the treatment.

The "Look at Me Now" singer was arrested in October for allegedly punching a Maryland man who was trying to get a picture with him, breaking his nose.

Brown has pleaded not guilty and rejected a deal that would have reduced the charge to simple assault. His bodyguard, Christopher Hollosy, faces the same charge.

Brown's lawyers estimated the trial would take two to three days.

During the hearing, Alprin said it was unusual to see so many high-priced lawyers for defendants in a simple assault case.

Mark Geragos, one of Brown's attorneys, replied: "It's the most populated misdemeanour in the history of the planet."

Since the 2009 sentence, Brown has been involved in altercations with rapper Drake and his entourage in New York and R&B singer Frank Ocean in a Los Angeles parking lot.

(Writing by Ian Simpson. Editing by Andre Grenon)