Patti LaBelle's bodyguard found not guilty of assault

By Mary Benton, Reporter, mbenton@kprc.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 02:42:56 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 11 2013 09:07:23 PM CST

Nov. 11, 2013: Singer Patti LaBelle's bodyguard was found not guilty of misdemeanor assault in a 2011 incident at IAH. Mary Benton reports.

HOUSTON -

Singer Patti LaBelle's bodyguard was found not guilty of misdemeanor assault in a 2011 incident at IAH.

It was a high-profile trial that even included Patti LaBelle herself taking the stand.  In the end, the jury sided with the bodyguard, finding him not guilty.

Efram Holmes was accused of punching Richard King, who was on spring break from West Point, during an incident that took place at Bush Intercontinental Airport in March of 2011.

Holmes claims he used the appropriate force to protect LaBelle's son.

"I just want to thank my legal counsel," Holmes said after the verdict was read. "I'm disappointed in the actions of other parties involved. Again, to reiterate what Mr. Cogdell (his lawyer) said, it should have never come this far."

King told Local 2, "I'm pretty disappointed with the outcome. I look forward to our next battle. I wish it would have turned out differently, but it is what it is."

Patti LaBelle testified last week that Holmes only took action after King tried to get in her limo and punch her son.

The incident was caught on surveillance video and attorneys for each said told the video paints a different picture of what happened. Even on Monday, the jury asked to see the surveillance video.

"You have an easy decision," defense attorney Dan Cogdell said during closing arguments. "The decision is whether you believe or have reasonable doubt that Holmes acted to protect a third party."

Cogdell told the jury that King was responsible for the incident because King was "visibly and obviously intoxicated and mumbled racial obscenities at LaBelle."

"You can tell by his demeanor that he (Holmes) is a good person and by his testimony that he thought he was doing the right thing," Cogdell told the Jury. "(He's) a good man who didn't commit a crime."

However, prosecutors painted a different picture.

"The defense is trying to divert attention from the truth and the truth is on that video," said prosecutor Josh Phanco.

"This is not justified self defense," said prosecutor Kaylynn Williford. "This is an assault. This is about holding people accountable."

Each side was given 45 minutes to sway the jury during closing arguments. A few minutes after the jury began deliberating behind closed doors, the foreman sent a note to the judge asking for a copy of the surveillance video.

Richard King has a civil suit pending against LaBelle, Holmes and other parties involved in the incident that night.

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