Actor Marlon Brando's son pleaded guilty Friday to a reduced voluntary manslaughter charge under a plea bargain reached after prosecutors failed to secure his half-sister's testimony in the shooting death of her Tahitian lover.

Christian Brando, 32, who had been charged with first-degree murder in the May 16, 1990, shooting of Dag Drollet, 26, now faces a maximum of 16 years in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 26.Marlon Brando was not in court Friday. "He was in no emotional position to come out today," Christian Brando's lawyer, Robert Shapiro, said.

After entering his plea, Christian Brando, wearing a dark suit and surrounded by dozens of re

porters, stood outside the courthouse with his lawyer before departing without comment.

"This is a very emotional day for Christian,"

Shapiro said. "Not only has he admitted to a manslaughter, but he admitted it to the entire world."

With the trial set to go Jan. 14, the District Attorney's Office had based its first-degree murder case on statements made by Cheyenne Brando, Christian's half-sister, who told police Christian had killed Drollet intentionally, not accidentally, as Christian contends.

But the plea bargain that led to the reduced charge was reached after lawyers for Cheyenne told high-level officials in the District Attorney's Office during a meeting Thursday that Cheyenne's fragile mental and physical health makes it impossible for her return to the United States from Tahiti to testify.

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Prosecutors said that at the sentencing, they would present evidence of Christian's "other acts of violence" and urge the judge to give him 11 years in prison for the voluntary manslaughter and another five years for the use of a handgun.