Bobby Brown pleads not guilty to driving drunk

LOS ANGELES Mon Apr 16, 2012 3:02pm EDT

Bobby Brown (R) leaves the funeral service of ex-wife, pop singer Whitney Houston, at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey February 18, 2012. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Bobby Brown (R) leaves the funeral service of ex-wife, pop singer Whitney Houston, at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey February 18, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Carlo Allegri

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Whitney Houston's ex-husband Bobby Brown pleaded not guilty on Monday to a charge of drunk driving and driving on a suspended license in Los Angeles last month.

Brown, 43, a singer with the 1980s boy band New Direction, did not appear in court for Monday's hearing and his plea was entered by his lawyer. A pre-trial hearing was set for May 16.

The singer was arrested on March 26, about six weeks after the sudden death of Houston, when police pulled him over for talking on his cellphone while driving. He then failed a sobriety test, police said.

Brown has a string of arrests over the years for battery, drunk driving and parole violations. He was married to Houston for almost 15 years, and their relationship was marked by what the "I Will Always Love You" singer later described as heavy cocaine use and bizarre behavior.

Houston drowned in a hotel bathtub on February 11 in an accident triggered by cocaine use and heart disease, a Los Angeles coroner's report said.

(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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