On Thursday, the legal team for R. Kelly started their defense in Chicago against federal charges that include enticement of minors for sex, child pornography and fixing his 2008 state trial. However, Kelly himself will not be taking the witness stand.
Judge Harry Leinenweber asked Kelly on Thursday morning if he would be testifying in which the singer stated that he would not. The judge asked this question right before lawyers for Kelly and two co-defendants started calling their first witnesses.
His longtime business manager, co-defendant Derrel McDavid, is being accused of assisting Kelly rig the 2008 trial, in which he was acquitted. McDavid is scheduled to testify. In addition, co-defendant Milton Brown is charged with receiving child pornography. Like Kelly, he refused to testify.
McDavid’s lawyers called their first defense witness, Christopher G. Wilson, who was McDavid’s friend and former police officer. He testified that McDavid told him back in 2001 that a merchandizing agent for Kelly, Charles Freeman, attempted to blackmail the R&B star.
Freeman testified earlier in the trial that Kelly and his entourage agreed to pay him $1 million to find a video that featured Kelly. He also discussed how he received payment in bags full of money. Freeman claimed that the cash was for services rendered and not part of an extortion plot.
Prosecutors believe the payments were part of a conspiracy to obstruct investigators leading into Kelly’s 2008 trial. On the stand, Wilson said he didn’t see anyone trying to extort Kelly and listened to what McDavid told him.
Two weeks ago, a 37-year-old woman who used the pseudonym “Jane” testified on behalf of prosecutors. She said that Kelly sexually abused her hundreds of times starting in 1998 when she was 14 and Kelly was around 30.
If Kelly is convicted on one or two of the charges at the Chicago trial, he could get additional years on top of the 30-year sentence Kelly already received from a New York federal judge in June for convictions on sex trafficking and racketeering charges.