CHICAGO --A key witness took the stand Thursday in the child pornography trial of singer R. Kelly.It's the aunt of the woman whom prosecutors say is seen on a videotape having sex with Kelly. Stephanie Edwards is the alleged victim's aunt. She is a major player in this case. Edwards is a singer and has known R. Kelly for years. As a matter of fact, it was Edwards who introduced her niece to Kelly when her niece was 12 years old. It's something that Edwards told jurors was "my mistake." The arrival of R. Kelly has become part of the morning routine at the Cook County Criminal Courts Building. The R&B star is charged with child pornography stemming from a videotape, prosecutors say, shows Kelly and a girl as young as 13 having sex. For a second day in a row, the 41-year-old singer heard testimony from more witnesses who identified Kelly and the young female on the tape. After first viewing the tape seven years ago and again Thursday morning, Edwards told jurors how she recognized her niece. Edwards testified, "You know your blood. She's my niece. The face, hairdo, you know your family, there's no denying it." Edwards at times became very emotional when talking about her niece. Edwards told jurors, "She was my heart." Edwards and her niece no longer talk after Edwards, years ago, called police about the videotape and began cooperating with investigators. Edwards' niece and the young female's parents claim she is not the person on the tape. Edwards says her testimony has caused a division in her once very tight family. The defense claims Edwards is trying to get revenge after Kelly dropped Edwards from his record label. Edwards testified that she voluntarily left Kelly's company and both were "cool" afterward. Another childhood friend of the alleged victim also testified that she, too, recognized the young female and Kelly on the tape. Audrey Hampton told jurors she recognized the female's face, voice and her mannerisms. Because the alleged victim says it is not her on the tape, prosecutors are bringing in several witnesses who were close to her, close friends and relatives, who say they do recognize her on that tape. Court got off to a little bit of a late start Thursday morning when a spectator was arrested. Forty-eight-year-old Deborah Triplett was given a $50,000 bond after she yelled "Free R. Kelly!" right in front of the jury. Jurors will return Tuesday.
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