Denied the chance to kiss her baby one last time, a sobbing Tanya Anne Hijazi, the girlfriend of singer Rick James, was immediately taken into custody Tuesday after being sentenced to four years in prison.
But San Fernando Superior Court Judge Michael R. Hoff did open the door to the possibility that Hijazi and James could be married next month on the day that James is sentenced.
James, best known for his 1981 hit song “Super Freak,” was convicted Friday on three of 14 charges involving the assault and torture of two women in separate incidents. He escaped a possible life sentence when a jury acquitted him on one count of torture and deadlocked on another. He faces a maximum sentence of nine years in prison.
Hijazi, who was originally charged on the same 14 counts, pleaded guilty last month to a single count of assault with a deadly weapon. In exchange for her plea, prosecutors dismissed all other charges.
Hijazi, 23, had asked that her sentencing be delayed so that she could spend more time with her and James’ 16-month-old son. She said she also needed the time to make arrangements to marry James, who was taken to jail immediately upon his conviction.
Hoff denied her request, but did agree to allow her to return to court on Oct. 8 for James’ sentencing and to possibly get married. The couple can’t count on Hoff to pronounce them man and wife, however. The judge called the pending marriage a “farce” and said he would not perform the ceremony.
“You’ll have to figure out some other way to do it,” Hoff said.
James’ attorney, Mark J. Werksman, said he is trying to make the marriage arrangements.
Hijazi, who was wearing a light green, long-sleeved top with a matching skirt, arrived in court holding her son in her arms. She was also sentenced to a concurrent two-year term in prison for violating probation on a prior, unrelated embezzlement conviction. She was also fined $5,000 to be paid to a victims restitution fund.
At one point during the proceedings, Hijazi’s son, who was being held by Hijazi’s mother, began making noises and the bailiff ordered him removed. Hijazi turned to look at him and began crying. Several times she also turned to look at her mother, who was sitting in the front row with her other daughter, Tashia, 17.
Hijazi’s attorney, Leonard B. Levine, said that with credit for time already served awaiting trial, Hijazi could be free in less than two years.
“She understands that she has to pay her debt,” he said. “I’m happy that she’ll now be able to do her time and then go on with her life,” he said.
After the court proceedings, Hijazi’s mother, Suzanne Shapiro, said her family will remain unified.
“We’re a family and we’re going to remain a family, and if anything this has made us a stronger family,” said Shapiro. Before his conviction, James had been living with Hijazi at Shapiro’s Agoura Hills home.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Andrew Flier said he plans to refile charges against James on a total of eight counts on which the jury deadlocked 11 to 1 for guilty.
During the three-week trial, a 26-year-old woman testified that after a few days of smoking cocaine and twice having sex with James at his former Hollywood Hills home in July, 1991, the Grammy-award winner became angry and accused her of stealing his drugs. She said he tied her naked to a chair and burned her legs and abdomen with a hot knife and cocaine pipe for 40 minutes. After untying her, she said James forced her to have oral sex with Hijazi and then all three had sex together.
A second woman testified that after several hours of discussing business and mutual friends in a room at the St. James’s Club Hotel in West Hollywood in November, 1992, James and Hijazi, who had been smoking cocaine, beat her up and held her prisoner for nearly 20 hours.
James, who testified in his defense, denied the charges, saying someone else burned the first woman and that only Hijazi struck the second woman.