LaBelle son testifies for bodyguard in Texas trial

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by Associated Press

Associated Press

Posted on November 8, 2013 at 8:35 PM

Updated Saturday, Nov 9 at 12:32 PM

HOUSTON (AP) — The son of singer Patti LaBelle told a Texas jury on Friday that he was hit in the face by a man at a Houston airport terminal after the man shouted racial slurs at his mother.

Zuri Edwards testified in the misdemeanor assault trial of his mother's bodyguard, Efrem Holmes, 45, who hit Richard King at the Bush Intercontinental Airport in 2011.

According to KTRK-TV of Houston, Edwards testified that King was "intoxicated, loud, obnoxious" and was hurling racial epithets at his mother. Then, he said, "I am instantly struck on my face, on the right side of my face."

Holmes' attorneys have said their client was defending LaBelle and Edwards from King's onslaught.

King, 23, a West Point cadet, had a blood-alcohol level of .28 percent, almost 3 ½ times Texas' legal threshold for intoxication, and has testified that he does not remember what happened the day of the airport incident.

Edwards' testimony came one day after LaBelle testified in Holmes' defense, calling him "cuddly, very nice, very gentle."

According to the Houston Chronicle, LaBelle testified Thursday that she and her son, who works as her manager, had just arrived in Houston with Holmes. She said Edwards was loading luggage into an SUV for a trip to a performance at a Louisiana casino when King staggered up to the limousine in which she sat.

King jiggled the door handle to try to enter the limousine and called her names when Edwards intervened, LaBelle said. King punched Edwards, and Holmes punched King, she said.

"Nobody was trying to hit that kid," said LaBelle, 69. "He started everything."

Prosecutors have shown surveillance video showing Edwards chest-bumping King, drawing a punch from King, and Holmes punching King three times in the face. LaBelle's hairdresser then got between the two and hit King.

King has filed a lawsuit against the Grammy Award-winning entertainer and Holmes. LaBelle countersued.

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