CHICAGO — The defense of R. Kelly and two co-defendants rested on the R . on FridaySinger & B lawsuit on charges of process fixing, child pornography and seducing minors into sex.
They closed their case after the defense’s key witness, Kelly co-defendant and former business manager Derrell McDavid, finished three days of testimony.
Prosecutors will have the opportunity to call rebuttal witnesses and the parties will then hold closing arguments. The jury’s deliberations are unlikely to begin until next week.
Kelly and McDavid are accused of solving Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial by threatening witnesses and hiding video evidence. Kelly was acquitted in 2008. Both he and McDavid are also charged with child pornography at the Chicago federal trial. A third co-defendant, Kelly employee Milton Brown, is accused of receiving child pornography.
McDavid was the only one of the three defendants to testify on his behalf.
Kelly, 55, was sentenced to 30 years in prison in June after a separate federal trial in New York.
Kelly, known for his smash hit “I Believe I Can Fly” and sex-infused songs like “Bump n’ Grind,” sold millions of albums even after allegations of sexual misconduct in the 1990s. Widespread outcry arose after the #MeToo settlement and the 2019 docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly”.
While testifying this week, McDavid sometimes sounded like a witness to the prosecution. He said he believed in Kelly’s denials about sexual abuse of minors in the 2000s, but changed his mind at the current trial.
During the cross-examination, prosecutor Jeannice Appeneng tried to show that McDavid was so close to Kelly that he could not be completely ignorant of any wrongdoing by Kelly.
McDavid agreed that his job included protecting Kelly’s reputation and assets. Citing financial records, the prosecutor said Kelly was paying him about $1 million a year as of 2006. McDavid denied taking any steps to ward off sexual misconduct lawsuits against Kelly, primarily to protect his boss and Kelly’s lucrative income.
In a sudden shift late Thursday, McDavid expressed doubts about Kelly’s 2000s insistence that he never sexually abused minors.
When asked by his own attorney, Beau Brindley, if he was in “another position” to review allegations against Kelly after reviewing government statements by four Kelly prosecutors, McDavid replied, “Yes, I am.”
“The last (few) weeks…I’ve learned a lot…that I had no idea about in 2008,” he added.
McDavid, who had previously testified that he once saw Kelly as a son, was also asked if he would have believed Kelly in the 2000s, including until the end of Kelly’s trial in 2008.
“I absolutely did,” he replied, “because I loved him and believed in him.”
McDavid’s testimony could lend credence to the allegations that concern Kelly alone — five counts of seducing underage girls for sex, one count for five accusers. However, it is also in McDavid’s best interest to say that he believed Kelly entered the 2008 trial, as it undermines the government’s case that McDavid knew Kelly was guilty and believed the singer would be convicted if the evidence was not found. was suppressed.
Judge Harry Leinenweber has repeatedly rejected requests from Kelly’s defense team to let him try alone, alleging his and McDavid’s interests would conflict in a joint trial.
McDavid testified that he and Kelly grew apart after the 2008 trial amid financial disputes and that he retired from working for Kelly in 2014.
The ongoing trial in Kelly’s hometown is, in a sense, a repeat of the 2008 trial. A single video, in which prosecutors said Kelly sexually assaulted a girl around 14, was at the heart of that trial. The same video is evidence during the current trial.
The girl in the video, then an adult, did not testify at that trial in 2008, which jurors cited as the reason they could not convict. She testified at the current trial under the pseudonym “Jane”, saying that she was the person in that video and that Kelly made the recording. She also said Kelly sexually assaulted her hundreds of times, starting when she was 14.
McDavid testified Wednesday that he had seen the then-teenager hanging out in Kelly’s studio in the late 1990s. He said Kelly angrily denied rumors that he was sexually abusing Jane, who Kelly described as his goddaughter.
“I believed him,” McDavid said.
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