R. Kelly speaks at child porn trial, won’t testify
CHICAGO — R. Kelly told the judge in his child pornography trial Tuesday that he doesn’t plan to testify.
After Judge Vincent Gaughan told Kelly he had a right to not take the stand, the R&B singer leaned forward at the defense table with his hands folded and, speaking for the first time at the trial, responded: “I decided not to testify.”
The jury wasn’t in the room at the time.
Kelly, 41, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he videotaped himself having sex with an underage girl that prosecutors say was as young as 13. Both Kelly and the alleged victim, now 23, have denied being on the tape.
If convicted, Kelly faces up to 15 years in prison.
Also Tuesday, the judge ruled that jurors can view the sex tape once they begin deliberating.
Kelly’s lawyers had asked the judge to bar jurors from reviewing the graphic video, saying they worried jurors would overemphasize one piece of evidence. But prosecutors argued the tape is the primary subject of the trial and couldn’t be kept from jurors.
“People’s Exhibit No. 1 is the actual nucleus of the case … the evidence centers around this exhibit,” said prosecutor Shauna Boliker.
Gaughan agreed, but added that he would instruct the jurors before they begin deliberating that they shouldn’t put too much emphasis on the tape alone.
A prosecution witness also took the stand for a second time to rebut defense claims about the tape. The defense and prosecution both have rested their cases, but video expert Grant Fredericks’ testimony is part of the prosecution’s right of rebuttal.
A version of the video that the defense used in presenting their case was misleading because it was such low quality, Fredericks told jurors.
The defense argued that in their version of the tape there is no mole on the back of the man who appeared, proving the man is not Kelly, who has such a mole.
But Fredericks says higher quality versions of the tape clearly show a mole on the man’s back.
The defense and prosecutors also sparred in court Tuesday about who made certain copies of the tape and whether that may have undermined the defense’s case.
Kelly’s defense lawyers rested their case Monday after calling 12 witnesses over two days last week, including three relatives of the alleged victim who testified they did not recognize the female that appears in the tape.
The prosecution called 22 witnesses over seven days, including several childhood friends of the alleged victim and four of her relatives who identified her as the female on the graphic, 27-minute video.
Kelly won a Grammy in 1997 for “I Believe I Can Fly.” He is best known for such raunchy songs as “Bump N’ Grind” and “Ignition,” and for “Trapped in the Closet,” a multipart saga about the sexual secrets of a lively and ever-expanding cast of characters.
One observer in the courtroom gallery Monday was actor Eric Lane, who plays the hotheaded character Twan in the “Trapped in the Closet” series.
Closing arguments are likely to be delivered Thursday.
A sullied image
"It is clearly inappropriate for the venerable NAACP to honor anyone
facing such serious charges of moral turpitude, regardless of
their musical talent," the Banner wrote in a March 11, 2004 editorial following news that R. Kelly, who had been indicted on child pornography charges, had been nominated for an NAACP Image Award that year. More »
An R. Kelly timeline, before and during the courtroom drama
Compiled by MTV News, this step-by-step breakdown of the events leading up to R. Kelly's child pornography trial takes readers through the R&B singer's complex legal history. More »
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