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The trial of R. Kelly’s manager began on Tuesday for forcing the cancellation of a 2018 screening of the documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” about the singer’s sexual abuse of women and girls by calling for a shooter threat active against the crowded New York theater.
Donnell Russell is on trial for allegedly phoning the NeueHouse Madison Square on December 4, 2018 and telling a staff member that someone in the crowded theater had a gun in their possession and was going to ‘shoot’ the event , which necessitated an evacuation. of the building.
Assistant United States Attorney Lara Pomerantz told jurors that Russell “knew his words would sabotage the event.”
R. KELLY BACK IN CHICAGO FOR FEDERAL SEX CRIME TRIAL
“The defendant wanted to silence the women,” Pomerantz said in Manhattan federal court. She added that Russell was motivated by a desire to protect Kelly’s career.
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Kelly, who was convicted in 2021 of racketeering and sex trafficking, was sentenced last month to 30 years in prison.
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Defense attorney Michael Freedman told jurors they would exonerate Russell if they studied the evidence.
The man who received the call to the New York theater, Adrian Krasniqi, testified in court. Krasniqi also worked there. He pointed out that he received the threatening phone call less than an hour after a man, who claimed to be part of Kelly’s legal team, called.
The caller said the “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary violates the R&B singer’s copyright to his name and should not be shown. Krasniqi described the caller as someone who had a low, professional voice. He testified that the appellant said in a very serious and direct manner that “someone had a gun and they were going to shoot the place”.
Krasniqi noted on cross-examination that he believed the appellant had a Brooklyn accent, which he recognized as he is from the area. He also said the caller appeared to be outside when he made the threat.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.