MT. CLEMENS, Mich. — Slim Shady dodged a bullet today.
Saying he was "glad to get this over with and put behind me," Grammy-winning Detroit rapper Eminem avoided jail when he was sentenced to two years' probation in Macomb County Circuit Court after pleading guilty to carrying a concealed weapon. The charge stemmed from an altercation on June 4 outside a Warren bar in which Eminem — whose real name is Marshall Mathers III — tussled with a man he allegedly saw kissing his wife, Kim.
Macomb County prosecutors dropped an assault charge in exchange for a guilty plea on the concealed weapons charge.
The multimillion-selling rapper still faces assault and concealed weapons charges in Oakland County from a June 3 incident in Royal Oak, when he allegedly pulled an unloaded gun on an employee of the rival rap group Insane Clown Posse. A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for April 23 in front of Circuit Court Judge Denise Langford Morris.
In a short statement after the hearing, Eminem, 28 — who's in the middle of a divorce from Kim — told reporters that he's now looking forward "to spending time with my little girl (daughter Hailie Jade Mathers, 5) and making music." He did not answer questions.
The conditions of the Macomb County probation, delivered by Circuit Court Judge Antonio Viviano, stipulate that Eminem must for the next two years refrain from "excessive use of alcohol and controlled substances" and submit to random testing at the order of his probation officer; have no contact with John Guerra, the man he was charged with assaulting in Warren; undergo counseling; not possess any kind of weapons; and pay more than $8,000 in court costs and fines.
Viviano's order permits Eminem to travel freely in the continental United States, provided his itinerary is provided to his probation officer. Any other travel must be approved by the court.
Viviano cautioned Eminem that it considers probation to be "a punishment" and warned him that violating his orders could result in up to five years in prison.
Wally Piszczatowski, Eminem's Bloomfield Hills-based attorney, says he was pleased that Viviano "treated Mr. Mathers like he would treat any citizen in this state. We think he did not treat Marshall any differently given his celebrity status … [and] gave him the same sentence that would be consistent with anyone in the state who would have had the similar case facts and who would have pled guilty to the crime of carrying a concealed weapon."
Piszczatowski said he was "very" confident that Eminem — who has championed substance abuse in some of his songs — would be able to follow the order to refrain from excessive alcohol and drug use himself. He also felt the travel restrictions would not present a great impediment, either.
"The court indicated it did not in any way intend to impede Marshall's ability to make a living and to continue with his career," Piszczatowski said. "So we are pretty comfortable that the judge will, upon request and given the necessary details, allow him to travel outside the U.S. as well."
The attorney added that he anticipated a similarly fair hearing in Oakland County, where Eminem has not yet pled on the Royal Oak charges. Tuesday's hearing was attended by about two dozen fans and family members — including Eminem's half-brother, Nathan Samra-Mathers; his step-father, John Briggs; and cousin Josh Schmitt. There were sighs of relief, embraces, and high-fives when Viviano announced the probation, and Betty Schmitt, Eminem's aunt, cried for joy.
"I'm happy for him," said Maria Castro, 15, of Pontiac, Mich., who skipped school to attend the sentencing with her father. She was, however, disappointed with one aspect of the hearing. "I didn't get to see him; I just saw the back of him the whole time," Castro said. "I wanted to say, 'Hey, Eminem …' but that's OK. I was just excited to be so close to him."