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R Kelly defence due to start calling witnesses in ongoing trial today

By | Published on Thursday 1 September 2022

R Kelly

The defence in the current R Kelly trial in Chicago will start calling witnesses to the stand later today, after the prosecution rest their case on Tuesday. Kelly’s lawyers haven’t confirmed whether or not he will testify, although it seems unlikely. However, his co-defendant and former business manager, Derrel McDavid, will definitely appear on the witness stand.

The trial is the latest to put the spotlight on the many allegations of sexual abuse made against Kelly over the decades. McDavid and another co-defendant – Milton ‘June’ Brown – are accused of helping Kelly cover up the musician’s sexual abuse of young teenagers during an earlier criminal investigation in the 2000s.

The prosecution called 25 witnesses in total, including a number of Kelly’s alleged victims, women who say they were abused by the one time pop star, most of them when they were in their early teens. On Tuesday jurors heard from one more of those victims, Nia, who – in 1996 – flew to Minneapolis at Kelly’s request when she was just fifteen.

According to the Chicago Tribune, she recalled how she bought a single rose on the way to meet Kelly because “I wanted him to know how I felt about him”. However, he sexually abused her in a hotel room and then quickly departed, before she could even give him her gift. Another incident subsequently occurred at a recording studio, and then Kelly stopped returning Nia’s phone calls.

Although jurors heard from several women who say they were abused by Kelly as teenagers, one witness that was expected to testify, referred to as Brittany and referenced by another victim, did not take to the witness stand in the end.

No reason was given for her removal from the list of witnesses, but the prosecution don’t seem to be dropping the specific charges that relate to Kelly’s alleged abuse of Brittany.

As the defence got ready to start calling witnesses they also filed motions requesting that the judge acquit their clients without the matter actually going to jury deliberations. Though that’s pretty routine in criminal cases like this and the judge hardly ever grants those motions. The judge hearing this case will rule on said motions later today.

As well as seeking to question the credibility of many of the prosecution’s witnesses, the defence will also raise an assortment of technicalities regarding the specific charges being pursued in this trial, and also – certainly in McDavid’s case – the statute of limitations.

In terms of McDavid and Brown’s efforts to recover leaked tapes that seemingly showed Kelly sexually abusing minors, defence lawyers will likely argue that Kelly et al sought to reclaim those tapes because they were embarrassing, not because they knew that they documented crimes.

During last year’s R Kelly trial in New York, the defence’s case proved to be decidedly lacklustre. It remains to be seen how the defence put forward by Kelly’s new lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, and the legal teams of his co-defendants compares.