Chicago

Cross-examination of key witness to continue

The Kansas City man on the heart of an alleged scheme to cover a intercourse tape displaying R. Kelly in a threesome with a 14-year-old woman advised a federal jury Friday that he solely handed over a partial copy of the tape to Kelly’s associates at first as a result of he “didn’t think they’d know the difference.”

Keith Murrell, 45, is a key witness for prosecutors, who’re attempting to show that Kelly and his two co-defendants, Derrel McDavid and Milton “June” Brown, conspired to purchase again incriminating tapes and conceal years of Kelly’s sexual misconduct.

Murrell’s testimony, which capped the second week of Kelly’s trial on the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse, helped shore up key components of the indictment. But he additionally contradicted one other central witness, his buddy Lisa Van Allen, on a number of key factors, together with why she despatched him the tape, the quantity of sexual encounters it depicted, and whether or not money was the motivating issue for returning it to Kelly.

Murrell walked into court docket carrying a blue swimsuit and darkish sun shades. He remained somber-faced and appeared barely nervous, a contradiction to his buddy and former witness, Charles Freeman, who was laid again and smiling on the stand.

Testifying in a Missouri drawl, Murrell stated he met Kelly within the mid-Nineteen Nineties when he was in an R&B group named Ok-OS. After impressing Kelly with a tune they sang into his voicemail, they have been flown to Chicago to file with Kelly’s label in 1997, he stated.

It was at the moment Murrell stated he met Van Allen, a romantic accomplice of Kelly’s who testified this week that she participated in threesomes with Kelly and his then-underage goddaughter, which Kelly video recorded.

Murrell stated he ultimately moved again to Kansas City within the early 2000s. While dwelling there, Van Allen despatched him a videotape to “hold” for her, which he stated he watched immediately. “It was Lisa, Rob and another girl having sex,” he testified.

Murrell stated he confirmed the video to a number of associates — together with Freeman — however by no means gave it to anybody else. He was surprised in 2007, he stated, when McDavid known as him out of the blue and stated they knew he had a tape.

Brown later known as him and stated to convey it to Chicago, however earlier than he went, Murrell made a replica of about an 8- to 10- minute “snippet” of the tape to convey, saying “I didn’t think they’d know the difference.”

After flying to Chicago with the copy of the tape, he met at a downtown lodge with Brown and McDavid, the place he failed a polygraph check when requested if he’d made any copies. Murrell stated McDavid gave him $20,000 in money and advised him to return to Kansas City and get the unique tape, and if he did so he’d get a complete reward of $100,000. He stated McDavid let him know, “they weren’t playing.”

Murrell later went again to Chicago with the unique tape, he stated. When he arrived, Brown advised him he had “the golden egg, or something like that,” Murrell testified. He handed the tape to McDavid, who organized for him to take a second lie detector check.

After he handed, McDavid “told me ‘Thank you’ and he shook my hand and gave me a hug. And then he gave me the money also.” Murrell says it was a bag with $80,000 in money.

In her testimony Thursday, Van Allen sobbed when she described how McDavid threatened her after she had failed a polygraph check in regards to the tape, telling her “they should have murked me from the beginning” — that’s, they need to have killed her.

Murrell stated that Van Allen by no means advised him about that alleged risk. He additionally was requested on cross-examination whether or not McDavid had ever threatened him. After initially saying no, Murrell stated that McDavid drew his consideration to a big member of Kelly’s safety staff who was additionally within the room.

“He said if I didn’t come back, this guy right here would come see me,” Murrell stated.

Murrell acknowledged on cross-examination that he requested Van Allen to ship him the tape as a result of he needed to see it, and that she by no means advised him there was something improper or unlawful on it.

When he considered it, it didn’t appear to be something felony, he stated. And there was just one sexual encounter on the tape, Murrell stated — whereas Van Allen has testified the have been three separate scenes, two of which concerned simply Kelly and his younger goddaughter.

Earlier Friday, Van Allen’s continued cross-examination bought off to an awfully contentious begin. Within quarter-hour, the change with Kelly lawyer Jennifer Bonjean had grown so argumentative and round that the decide intervened, and inside about 20 minutes the witness had damaged down in tears.

Van Allen, 42, acknowledged at the beginning she was “exhausted” and didn’t need to come to court docket Friday after spending about 5 hours on the stand the day earlier than.

Kelly lawyer Jennifer Bonjean repeatedly famous that Van Allen had for years stated she first met Kelly when she was 17, however at this trial acknowledged she was 18. Authorities had knowledgeable her that the music video shoot the place they met was filmed after her 18th birthday.

Bonjean confirmed rising exasperation with Van Allen’s failure to nail down a timeline for when precisely she met Kelly and the way outdated she was on the time. At one level, as Van Allen once more stated she was confused by a question, Bonjean threw her fingers up within the air and appeared towards the ceiling, letting out a heavy sigh.

“Why would I do all that math when I’m trying to tell the truth?” Van Allen stated, rising pissed off. “… When I testified against him it wasn’t for me. It was about Jane.”

Bonjean famous that Jane was underage when Van Allen admittedly had sexual contact along with her and Kelly: “You’re here testifying for her? This is the person you sexually abused?”

Van Allen’s backside lip started to quiver. She reached for a field of tissues and began dabbing at her eyes. Then she broke down sobbing.

“I’m not proud of that. I don’t know what woman would be proud of that,” she stated by way of tears. “But I am here to admit to my wrongdoings and to hold him accountable for what he’s done, so you can sit here and try to make me the bad guy all you want.”

As she sobbed for a number of uncomfortable minutes, Bonjean stood on the lectern along with her arms crossed. “Let me know when you have composed yourself,” she stated.

Bonjean additionally questioned Van Allen about what number of threesomes she had with Kelly and the place and when and why. She confirmed Van Allen a press release she made to authorities in 2019, during which she stated she participated within the threesomes as a result of she felt dangerous that Kelly had been molested when he was younger.

With that, jurors have realized about that traumatic half of Kelly’s historical past with out Kelly needing to take the stand.

Van Allen stated she reached out to Kelly for his assist in getting the incriminating video again, however then Kelly volunteered to give her money if she may go get better it. That isn’t logical, Bonjean implied: “This doesn’t make sense unless it was all about money, Ms. Van Allen.”

“It makes sense to not want a sex tape out there. Especially with a minor,” Van Allen stated.

After a little bit greater than two hours of questioning, Bonjean advised the decide she had “nothing further.”

“Good,” Van Allen stated loudly into the microphone, prompting Bonjean to whirl round and say, “Oooh!”

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Van Allen gave her an enormous smile.

On redirect examination, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Julien learn for jurors segments of Van Allen’s testimony from Kelly’s 2008 trial, to present that her story had remained constant and that she was not motivated by publicity. Van Allen, at that time, didn’t have a e-book deal, and had not been on tv.

The prosecutor’s closing questions tried to fight protection attorneys’ insinuations that Van Allen’s shows of feelings have been only a phony present for jurors.

“Were your emotions yesterday fake?” Julien requested.

“No,” Van Allen responded.

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