Image source: NBC News
The trial sex offender and the R&B singer of the singer R. Kelly started on Monday with a selected and sworn jury for child pornography and the obstruction process.
The jury consists of four men and eight women, with six alternative jurors of five women and a man.
On Monday morning, the United States district judge Harry Leinenweber questioned a pool of over one hundred jurors.
However, Kelly Jennifer Bonjean’s lawyer questioned the prosecutor’s choice to challenge the security potentials.
He says prosecutors have often hit black jurors, calling it a disturbing pattern.
Assistant US Attorney Jeannice Appenteng disputed the claims, noting that prosecutors no longer challenged black jurors.
“It’s just another example of an effort to violate not only the First Amendment rights of jurors, but also Mr. Kelly’s right to a jury equal to him,” Bonjean said.
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R. Kelly and associates
R. Kelly is one of the most prominent names to have been convicted of sexual misconduct during the #MeToo movement in recent years.
The singer is joined by his former business manager Derrel McDavid and his associate Milton “June” Brown as they face charges of obstruction of justice.
Kelly worked with McDavid and Brown at the height of his career in the 1990s.
McDavid was Kelly’s business manager from 1991 to 2014.
He claims part of his job description was to “protect Kelly’s image, reputation, and assets” from active and potential criminal investigations — including lawsuits filed by people claiming to be victims of the singer’s sexual abuse.
Prosecutors believe Kelly and McDavid worked with others to pay victims and witnesses to “cover up the evidence” and bribe them to work with law enforcement.
Meanwhile, Brown worked with Kelly from 1997 to 2018.
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Prosecutors say the three conspired to receive more child pornography tapes.
“At all times relevant to the charges in this case, Derrel McDavid did only one thing: he did his job,” said McDavid attorney Beau Brindley.
“It was his job to protect Robert Kelly’s image and career. To do that, he hired some of the best lawyers in the United States. Those are the only people with whom Mr. McDavid entered into any agreements relevant to this case.”
“Mr. McDavid and these lawyers did their job. THey executed it with excellence. That was not a crime then. It is not a crime now. We look forward to Mr. McDavid’s exoneration.”
The three are also charged with attempting to bribe and threatening witnesses in the 2008 Illinois case in which he was found not guilty on 14 counts of child pornography.
All three have pleaded not guilty to the current federal charges.
The process should take four weeks.
During the trial, prosecutors are expected to show child pornography recordings showing R. Kelly having sex with underage girls.
Since the tapes are considered contraband, the public and the media are not allowed to view the tapes.
However, jurors can view the tapes before the trial.
On Sunday Jennifer Bonjean called for the exclusion of potential judges who watched the documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly”, which deals with the allegations against the singer.
Court records show that at least one of Kelly’s alleged victims should testify against him.
Jury seated in Chicago federal trial for R. Kelly and two former associates, opening statements set for Wednesday