Closing arguments in R. Kelly’s federal trial are set to begin Monday, after jurors have heard more than four weeks of testimony.
Kelly, 55, faces 13 counts of child pornography and obstruction of justice. Two former accomplices are tried alongside him.
Kelly and his former business manager, Derrel McDavid, are accused of rigging Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial by intimidating and paying off witnesses, and conspiring to cover up Kelly’s alleged child sexual abuse by buying off incriminating videotapes. Kelly’s former assistant Milton “June” Brown is accused of receiving child pornography for his alleged role in the scheme to cover up the sex tapes.
During the trial, four women accused Kelly of sexually abusing them as girls, including the state’s star witness, who testified under the pseudonym ‘Jane’, who told jurors that Kelly started to abuse her after becoming her godfather when she was only 14 years old. and had sex with her hundreds of times between the ages of 14 and 18.
Jane had denied for years that Kelly abused her, but now says Kelly bullied her and her family and paid them off to keep her abuse a secret. She now says she was the person in the video at the center of Kelly’s 2008 Cook County child pornography trial, and told the jury that Kelly recorded her on other videos shown in court.
McDavid was the only defendant to testify at trial, spending three days in the witness box, repeatedly telling jurors he believed Kelly when he denied sexually abusing girls in the early 2000s, but said that he had begun to doubt Kelly’s innocence after learning new things. during the ongoing federal trial.
Over the weekend, federal prosecutors filed a request asking the judge assigned to the case to bar defense attorneys from citing trial transcripts during closing arguments, saying doing so would pose a “significant risk of distort the correct assessment of evidence by jurors”.
“Use of transcripts at closing is likely to distort or displace jurors’ independent recollections of testimonies and other evidence at trial, creating confidence in the parties cited rather than in their memory of the evidence as a whole. Such a focus on some testimony over others during closing arguments may serve to undermine the relative weight and credibility of testimony and other evidence as it appeared to each juror during the trial,” prosecutors wrote.
In response to prosecutors’ request, attorneys for Kelly and his co-defendants argued that barring them from citing trial transcripts “would amount to hiding the truth from the jury.”
“It took over three years, but it seems the government has finally realized that their case is based on the stories of liars, scammers and extortionists whose word is not to be trusted. This The eleventh-hour realization comes after four weeks of testimony in which government witnesses have not only been continually impeached on core elements of their case, but have also significantly deviated from the testimony the government had promised this Court,” they wrote.
Kelly has previously been sentenced to 30 years in prison after being convicted last year of racketeering and sex trafficking in federal court in New York. If convicted of the federal charges in Chicago, he could face decades in additional prison.