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Christian Brando Pleads Innocent to Murder, Weapons Charges

May 19, 1990

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Christian Brando, son of actor Marlon Brando, pleaded innocent Friday to first-degree murder in the Wednesday night shooting death of his pregnant half-sister’s boyfriend.

Municipal Judge Rosemary Shumsky ordered Brando, 32, held without bail, denying a plea from his attorneys that a bail hearing be held immediately.

The prosecutor said he wasn’t ready to argue bail, and Shumsky agreed to hold the hearing Tuesday.

Brando, handcuffed, unshaven and clad in a grey shirt and jeans, was glum and looked down at the floor through most of the hearing. The self-employed artist and welder spoke only twice to say ″yes,″ when asked if he understood his right to a speedy preliminary hearing and whether he was willing to waive that right.

Shumsky set June 11 to schedule a preliminary hearing.

Famed civil rights lawyer William Kunstler appeared at Brando’s side along with two other attorneys, but Kunstler left the legal arguments to local attorney Dan Stormer.

In addition to the murder count, Brando pleaded innocent to possession of a machine gun and a silencer found following the shooting in the den of Marlon Brando’s home. The weapons weren’t used in the shooting, authorities said.

Christian Brando is charged in the death of Dag Drollet, 26, a guest at the home and the son of a Tahitian official.

Drollet reportedly was the father of 20-year-old Tarita Cheyenne Brando’s unborn child. Police said the shooting apparently was sparked by an argument over Drollet’s treatment of Miss Brando, and said there were allegations Drollet had beaten the young woman.

Outside the courtroom Kunstler said he had discovered from the police report that the gun apparently went off accidentally during a struggle.

″This is not murder by any means,″ the attorney said.

But police Detective Steve Osti said earlier there was no indication there had been a struggle before the shooting. Christian Brando and Drollet were alone at the time.

An autopsy Friday determined that Drollet died of a gunshot wound to the head and neck, said coroner’s office spokesman Bob Dambacher.

Kunstler said Marlon Brando, 66, has been very supportive of his son, and was willing to take the stand and testify if necessary.

″He’s going to do whatever any father would do,″ the attorney said. He said Marlon Brando had told his son to be strong.

The Oscar-winning actor was in another part of the estate when the shooting occurred, and was the one who called police.

The small courtroom was jammed to capacity with reporters, photographers and television crews, and the clicking of cameras and the pop of flashbulbs punctuated the brief session.

Marlon Brando didn’t attend the hearing, but Christian Brando’s former wife, Mary McKenna Brando, was in the courtroom.

Kunstler said Marlon Brando called him Thursday, asking him to represent his son. The two men are longtime friends and allies in civil rights struggles over the past 30 years.

Christian Brando is the son of the actor and his first wife, Anna Kashfi. The couple was divorced in 1960, and their troubled son was the subject of a bitter custody battle.

Tarita Cheyenne is the daughter of Brando and his current wife, Tarita Teriipia, a Tahitian actress who played his love in the 1962 remake of ″Mutiny on the Bounty.″

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