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HOUSTON - An unexpected outcome in the trial for the man accused of driving drunk and killing Houston R&B singer JaeRene. There in the courtroom, the victims' families were overcome by an emotional wave of surprise. This is an ending I don't think anyone saw coming.
Bobby James Brown won't serve any prison time.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Accused drunk driver's trial kicks off in Houston R&B singer's death
Brown was facing more than 20 years in prison, charged with Intoxication Manslaughter for the death of R&B star JaeRene but as jurors were about to be brought in so opening Statements could begin, the judge granted the defense's motion to throw out the Blood Alcohol Content evidence against Brown.
"I lost my daughter and my best friend," JaeRene's mom, Lindsay Locke told me shortly after arriving at the courthouse.
With the courtroom packed full of Jaelyn "JaeRene" Chapman's loved ones, jurors were seconds from being brought in to start the Intoxication Manslaughter trial against Bobby James Brown.
"We've been waiting for two and a half years to see our day in court," Locke adds.
"It's a rollercoaster of emotions all over the place. Today, we have to relive the nightmare. It's nothing I would wish on anybody," says JaeRene's dad, Charles Chapman.
During this trial, just before jurors are brought into the courtroom, defense attorneys routinely make motions to have evidence thrown out. In this case, shockingly, Judge Te'iva Bell granted the defense's motion to toss out evidence, which shows, according to investigators, Brown's blood alcohol level was .19, more than double the legal limit. Judge Bell granted the motion to suppress this evidence because a warrant for Brown's blood that was already drawn wasn’t secured within the time frame the law requires.
Without that, how would prosecutors prove Brown was drunk in April 2021 when detectives say he was driving the wrong way on the highway, smashed into a vehicle JaeRene was riding in, killing the 19-year-old Houston native and R&B star?
So Brown was offered a plea deal of 10 years probation, and no prison time.
"It wasn't a plea deal we were happy with. It's a plea deal we will live with. If the defendant makes any wrong turns and violates that probation in any way, shape or form, we will have a hearing, and we will ask the judge to send him to prison where we believe he belongs," says Prosecutor Lauren Bard.
Family members of the Houston songbird were far too emotional to speak with us after the plea deal, but beforehand, JaeRene's mom said she misses her baby every second of the day.
"Every day is hard. It doesn't get any easier. I think it gets harder each day. It's like a nightmare you can't wake up from," Locke says.
As part of the plea deal, Brown must adhere to strict probation rules. He isn't allowed to drink any alcohol, not allowed to drive or go to any places that serve alcohol for 10 years, among other requirements.
Three of JaeRene’s friends were also severely injured in that crash, but they survived. So Brown was also charged with 3 counts of Intoxication Assault in addition to Intoxication Manslaughter. Even with all of those charges against him, Bobby James Brown was given a plea deal of 10 years probation today after allegedly driving drunk back in 2021 and killing rising R&B star 19-year-old JaeRene.
Brown also has a DWI charge from 2017.