Chicago

Jurors to hear opening statements in second R. Kelly federal trial

After two full days of jury choice, opening statements are slated to start in Chicago Wednesday morning in the second federal trial for disgraced R&B celebrity R. Kelly.

The 12 jurors and 6 alternates have been sworn in late Tuesday. They are anticipated to hear proof and arguments over roughly the subsequent 4 weeks.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, who questioned greater than 100 potential jurors on Monday and Tuesday, dismissed almost half for “cause,” usually as a result of they indicated they wouldn’t be honest or as a result of jury obligation would current a big hardship.

The make-up of the common jury is: Four white girls, 4 Black girls, two white males, and two Black males. They embody a former legal professional who’s now a stay-at-home mother and a library employee who mentioned she knew in regards to the case from the headlines in the newspapers she places on the shelf.

Another feminine juror, a retiree whose two kids are legal professionals, mentioned throughout questioning that she’d by no means seen the high-profile docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly,” however that her brother had informed her “If I watched (it) I’d probably get kicked off” the jury.

Many of these on the panel mentioned they’d heard of Kelly and the accusations in opposition to him earlier than, however may stay honest. Some even mentioned they’d seen components of “Surviving R. Kelly” however had shaped no opinion about Kelly himself.

One of the Black girls chosen for the jury mentioned she thinks she’d seen all 12 episodes of the sequence, however insisted it will not have an effect on her potential to be honest — prompting some audible snickers from a couple of Kelly supporters watching from the courtroom gallery on Monday.

The ultimate panel was chosen after each prosecutors and attorneys for Kelly and his two-co-defendants used their peremptory strikes to additional pare down the jury pool.

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Things acquired testy Tuesday when Kelly’s lead legal professional, Jennifer Bonjean, efficiently challenged three of the prosecution’s strikes of Black jurors, alleging they have been primarily based solely on race.

She mentioned prosecutors have been displaying a sample in opposition to Black jurors that was “quite disturbing,” although the Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeannice Appenteng mentioned they’d causes to take away the jurors unrelated to race.

On the flip facet, almost each single peremptory strike by the protection involving the common jury make-up was of a white individual — 12 in all. The protection additionally moved to strike one Asian girl and one Black girl. Prosecutors, nevertheless, didn’t elevate any challenges primarily based on that racial breakdown.

Kelly, 55, was charged with baby pornography and obstruction of justice in a 2019 indictment alleging he conspired with others to rig his Cook County trial years in the past by paying off a teenage lady whom he sexually assaulted on a now-infamous videotape.

Also dealing with trial are Kelly’s former business supervisor, Derrel McDavid, and one other affiliate, Milton “June” Brown, who, in accordance to the indictment, schemed to purchase again incriminating intercourse tapes that had been taken from Kelly’s assortment and conceal years of alleged sexual abuse of underage women.

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