Spectators and media packed the 5th floor of the Cook County Criminal Courts Building this morning, angling for a seat in what is in all likelihood going to be one of the most entertaining days in the trial of R. Kelly: closing arguments.
Some are likely to be disappointed, as the number of seats open to the public--State's Atty. Richard Devine among them--is about half of what is required to seat them all. Something tells us Devine won't have a problem getting in, though.
It looks like the final statements, which were set to begin at 10:00 a.m., will start about an hour late.
June 12, 2008 5:33 AM: What to expect in R. Kelly closing arguments
And now comes the end.
The R. Kelly trial nears its conclusion today with closing arguments beginning at 10 a.m. The jurynine men and three women could start deliberating as early as this afternoon.
With both sides eager to make one final impression on the panel, here are three points likely to be stressed by each side:
The tape: Two video experts testified it would take decades to fabricate the sex tape at the heart of the child pornography tape. One analyst also broke down a portion of the video to show jurors that the video's male participant has a mole on his backjust like Kelly.
The friends: The alleged victim denies any involvement with the sex tape, but three former junior high friends readily identified her for the jury. The young women were adamant and unshakable on the witness stand.
The photos: At one point during the trial, the prosecution put up side-by-side pictures of the alleged victim and the female from the sex tape. Though some relatives denied a resemblance, the subjects in the photograph looked very similar.
The victim: The alleged victim, now 23, did not testify during the trial and denied her involvement in the sex tape before a 2002 grand jury. The trial jury already knows this, but you can bet they'll be reminded again.
The tape: Kelly's attorneys may move away from the mole defense, given recent revelations that their video expert used a lower-grade tape to demonstrate that the male participant had an unblemished back. However, jurors still may have doubts about the video because of its poor quality and unknown origins.
Lisa Van Allen: Van Allen is the only witness to testify to first-hand knowledge of a sexual relationship between Kelly and his alleged victim. As such, the singer's attorneys dedicated much of their efforts to trying to undermine her. They'll paint her as a thieving blackmailer who only stepped forward to spare her fiancé from gun and drug charges. If the jury believes this, it could mean trouble for the prosecution.
Stacy St. Clair
June 10, 2008 3:49 PM: Testimony comes to an end
Testimony officially ended in the R. Kelly trial this afternoon as the judge ordered jurors to report back Thursday for closing arguments.
The jury was dismissed without any mention of a faulty stipulation regarding the accuracy of a DVD shown in court.
The prosecution learned Monday night that images from the sex tape at the center of the child pornography trial were compressed and lost significant detail when they were transferred to the DVD, Assistant State's Atty. Shauna Boliker said. The prosecutors blamed the error on "dumb lawyers" who simply wanted the DVD to more easily show shortened clips from the original video. The state swore to its veracity in a stipulation, a statement read to jurors in which both sides of the case agree on an item.
The situation was further complicated by the fact that the defense already presented testimony based on the supposed accuracy of both the DVD and the stipulation.
Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan called the stipulation "a rotten tomato in the barrel" and took an hourlong recess to consider the matter. After reviewing the transcripts, the judge said it was clear the defense had access to an uncompressed, unaltered copy of tape, in addition to the disc.
Gaughan asked the prosecution and defense to work together to resolve the matter. The two sides huddled for nearly an hour before returning to court and telling the judge they intended to put their agreement in writing.
Details of the resolution were not announced in open court.
Stacy St. Clair