Closing arguments begin in R. Kelly's federal trial in Chicago; female juror excused

ByLeah Hope and Stephanie Wade WLS logo
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
Juror excused as closing arguments begin in R. Kelly's Chicago trial
A juror in R. Kelly's federal trial was excused as closing arguments began Monday at the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Attorneys are making their final arguments before a jury decides the fate of R. Kelly and his two former employees.

R. Kelly is charged with trial-fixing, child pornography and enticing minors for sex. The 55-year-old has been the subject of different sexual abuse allegations for nearly two decades.

At one point Monday, a female juror told the judge she felt like she was having a panic attack and said she couldn't continue to serve on the jury. She will be replaced with a male alternate juror.

SEE MORE: R. Kelly trial: Defense for singer, co-defendants rest; prosecution rebuttal to begin next week

Federal prosecutors have the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in the 13-count indictment. Nine of those counts are against Kelly alone for creating child pornography and enticing a minor into criminal sexual activity.

Kelly was already sentenced to 30 years in prison, after he was convicted in a separate case in New York. Now he faces more years in prison in his federal trial in Chicago.

This complaint also names Kelly's former manager, Derrel McDavid, and employee, Milton Brown, for allegedly paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to recover child sex tapes.

A key witness for the government is a woman who calls herself Jane and identified herself in videos with Kelly when she was 14 years old.

Assistant US Attorney Elizabeth Pozolo argued Monday: "He took advantage of his position, his fame, and her youth. He took advantage for his own pleasure."

SEE MORE: R. Kelly jury views graphic videos of alleged sexual encounters with a minor

Pozolo went on to argue that the three - Kelly, his former business manager and former assistant - conspired to conceal evidence and thwart criminal prosecution in Cook County when the video of Jane became public.

"Kelly and his team did their best to cover up the fact that this R&B star R Kelly is a sexual predator," Pozolo said.

Early in the trial, federal prosecutors called an expert who testified about child predators and grooming behavior, which can lead a child to think they are special and their activity is normal, and it often takes years for the individuals to see the activity as abuse.

RELATED: Nearly $28K taken from R. Kelly's inmate commissary account for restitution in New York conviction

Prosecutor Pozolo concluded her argument, saying: "Robert Kelly manipulated girls over many years and he committed horrible crimes against children. And he didn't do it alone."

Each defendant's attorney is making a closing argument, too.

The attorney for Derrel McDavid - Kelly's former business manager - argued those who testified about McDavid's involvement in any conspiracy lied before and during the trial.

"Don't give into guilt by association because that's all the government has," Beau Brindley, McDavid's attorney, told jurors.

Additionally, Brindley argued McDavid believed Kelly's goddaughter, who was 14 years old at the time, was not the girl in the sex tape.

"The information he had then is different than what he has now," Brindley said.

Mary Judge, the attorney for Kelly's former assistant Milton Brown, argued that Brown was not part of any conspiracy, saying: "It proved he was doing his job and that all it proves."

ABC7 Legal Analyst Gil Soffer weighed in on the possible repercussions of the trial.

"If convicted here, R. Kelly is looking at decades in jail, and we have to remember he already has been sentenced to decades in jail in the New York conviction, so effectively we're looking at life imprisonment for him," Soffer said. "The judge could decide to let him serve them concurrently to the sentence in New York, if he gets more time here in Chicago then he did in NY, he'll serve those extra years on top of it. He's still appealing the New York case. If he wins that appeal, then the only sentence he'd be looking at is the one here in Chicago."