Bobby Brown claimed a $36 million civil judgment against Nick Gordon for the death of Bobbi Kristina Brown Thursday but what he really wants is criminal charges filed against his daughter's ex-boyfriend.
"I do need for the district attorney’s office to step up and begin the criminal prosecution of Mr. Gordon," he said in a statement released by his attorney Christopher Brown (no relation) late Thursday. "The delay in that matter is of great concern to me and my family. We need for District Attorney (Paul) Howard to act now.”
But no charges have been filed, and might never be filed. For one thing, there is no proof Bobbi Kristina's death 18 months ago was a result of foul play, so it's not clear what form a potential criminal prosecution of Gordon would take.
Howard isn't commenting on that question nor on the eye-popping judgment Thursday. But spokesman Dontaye Carter confirmed to USA TODAY that Bobbi Kristina's death is still under investigation — a status that could continue indefinitely in Georgia even in the absence of evidence of a crime.
There is no limitation on how long a Georgia prosecutor can investigate a death, says Randall Kessler, a former civil attorney for Gordon during the period last year he was trying to visit Bobbi Kristina in the hospital when she was in a coma.
“But every day that no charges are brought is better for anyone being investigated," Kessler told USA TODAY.
Gordon has two criminal attorneys, Jose Baez and Joe Habachy, who have said all along the allegations against Gordon are baseless. But neither would comment on the civil judgment since they did not represent Gordon in that case.
Brown won the wrongful-death judgment Thursday from a Fulton County judge, following a day of emotional testimony from Brown and his relatives about the loss of his 22-year-old daughter with the late Whitney Houston in July 2015.
Bobbi Kristina was found in January 2015 in her suburban Atlanta townhouse face down in a bathtub and unresponsive. She died without regaining consciousness to explain what had happened.
An autopsy later found she died from drowning with a combination of drugs and alcohol in her system, but the Fulton County medical examiner could not determine whether she died as the result of an accident, suicide or foul play.
Brown, still mourning, remains convinced Gordon, who was living with Bobbi Kristina and was present when she was found, had something to do with her death.
“We have said all along that Nick Gordon was responsible for the death of Bobbi Kristina Brown and the harm of losing a child is immeasurable,” Christopher Brown said.
"I do know that Mr. Gordon will be unable to slander my daughter’s name in the future or obtain any benefits from the use of Krissy’s name," Bobby Brown added in his statement.
The court-appointed conservator for Bobbi Kristina's estate filed a civil wrongful-death lawsuit against Gordon in August 2015, accusing him of giving her a "toxic cocktail," and of beating her and stealing from her while she was in a coma. Bobby Brown later joined that lawsuit.
Gordon, who moved to Florida, never showed up in court to defend himself in the lawsuit because he couldn't afford to pay for civil lawyers. As a result, he lost the case by default.
In September, Gordon was deemed “legally responsible” for Bobbi Kristina's death after he failed to appear in court. On Thursday, the judge assessed the damages Gordon must pay at $36 million, including $15 million for the value of Bobbi Kristina's life and nearly $14 million for her pain and suffering from assault.
"Apparently, Mr. Gordon did not appear in court and the court ruled, understandably, without hearing from Mr. Gordon," Kessler says. "It is unknown what the result may have been had Mr. Gordon appeared and participated."
Christopher Brown says some of the $36 million judgment will flow to Bobbi Kristina's estate but most of it will go to Bobby Brown, and not to Bobbi Kristina's Houston relatives. Will Bobby split it with others in his family, such as Bobbi Kristina's half-siblings? Christopher Brown did not respond to that question.
The question may be academic since Gordon almost certainly lacks $36 million. Still, David Ware, the Atlanta attorney who represented Bobbi Kristina's estate in the lawsuit, vowed to collect anyway.
"We intend to pursue, with all vigor, the full collection of the judgment," Ware said in a statement Thursday after the judge ruled. "(Gordon) will not escape justice nor ever profit from his misdeeds. We hope that in some small way this will allow Krissy’s family to continue their quest for peace.”