R. Kelly’s jury selection focuses on documentary 2019 | Ap-entertainment

CHICAGO (AP) – Jury selection in the federal trial of R. Kelly on suspicion of rigging his 2008 state child pornography trial began Monday with the judge and lawyers quickly focusing on the aspirants jurors watched a 2019 documentary about sexual abuse allegations against the R&B singer.

After denying Kelly’s lawyer’s request to automatically exclude anyone who had seen the six-part documentary series, “Surviving R. Kelly,” from the jury, US District Judge Harry Leinenweber questioned potential jurors about what they watched. , what they could remember about it and whether they could be impartial if they were selected.

Jurors were asked if they had seen the documentary in a questionnaire they had already filled out. In one case, a woman who had left her answer blank admitted seeing several episodes. However, she was not immediately released from service.

In all, the judge dismissed at least half of the approximately 60 would-be jurors he questioned on Monday. Among those fired was an elementary school teacher who said she would have a hard time being impartial given the subject of the trial, a man who said many of his closest friends were Chicago cops and a woman. who said he took martial arts lessons with Kelly’s children.

Among those kept in the pool of possible jurors was a man with a postgraduate degree in classical music and several people who claimed to have seen part of the Kelly documentary but who assured the judge that they could give the singer a trial. fair.

Jury selection was to resume on Tuesday.

The trial centers on Kelly threatening and paying a girl with whom he would film himself having sex when he was in his 30s and she was no more than 14. Jurors in the 2008 child pornography trial acquitted Kelly, with some later explaining that they felt they had no choice because the girl did not testify. The woman, now in her thirties and listed in the documents as “Minor 1” only, will be the government’s lead witness in the federal trial, which is expected to last four weeks.

Kelly also faces multiple counts of producing and receiving child pornography material.

Kelly, 55, has already been sentenced by a New York federal judge to a 30-year prison sentence for a 2021 sentence on charges of using his fame to sexually abuse other young fans.

Wearing a light gray suit, yellow shirt, tie, and black-rimmed glasses, Kelley greeted prospective jurors as his attorney Jennifer Bonjean introduced him. Kelly also wore a surgical mask as part of the COVID-19 protocols for anyone entering court.

Kelly, who emerged from poverty on Chicago’s South Side to become a stellar singer, songwriter, and producer, faces multiple charges at the federal trial. They include four child solicitation counts by sex, one each for four other accusers. They too should testify.

With the New York ruling alone, Kelly will be around 80 years old before qualifying for early release. The Chicago convictions could add decades to Kelly’s New York ruling, which she is appealing. A sentence for a single count of child pornography production carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Two of Kelly’s associates, Derrel McDavid and Milton Brown, are co-defendants in the Chicago trial. McDavid is accused of helping Kelly solve the 2008 trial, while Brown is accused of receiving child pornography material. Like Kelly, they too denied the irregularities.

Two state cases are also pending. One is a multiple count sexual abuse case outside the Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago. The other is a solicitation case in Minnesota. No test date is set for either of them.

Minor 1 is supposed to testify that she was on video having sex with Kelly. The recording was the focus of the month-long trial in 2008 and was played for jurors almost every day.

Minor 1 first met Kelly in the late 1990s when she was in middle school. She had joined Kelly’s Chicago recording studio with her aunt, a professional singer who worked with Kelly. Soon after, Minor 1 told her parents that Kelly would become her godfather.

Prosecutors say Kelly later threatened and tried to pay back Minor 1 and her parents so they wouldn’t testify in 2008. None of them did.

The double-risk rules prohibit prosecuting someone for the same crimes from which they were previously acquitted. This does not apply to the federal trial because prosecutors accuse several crimes related to Minor 1, including obstruction of justice.


Follow AP Legal Affairs Writer Michael Tarm on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mtarm

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