CHICAGO — R. Kelly’s federal child pornography and obstruction of justice trial will likely extend beyond its initially expected four-week timeline, prosecutors said Wednesday.
The trial began with jury selection on Aug. 15 and opening statements commenced on Aug 17. Attorneys said the proceedings would need four weeks, but recent delays — some beyond the control of the attorneys and judge — have made it clear that a fifth week of jurors’ time will be needed.
The first two weeks of the trial, during which federal prosecutors presented their case, moved along at a steady, if meticulous, pace. The prosecution rested on Tuesday, Aug. 30.
U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber opted to give jurors the next day off, allowing the judge to hear arguments on different motions brought by attorneys in the case. The three defendants started presenting their respective cases on Thursday, Sept. 1.
Jurors also requested, and were ultimately granted, an extra day off on Friday, Sept. 2. The Dirksen Federal Courthouse, where the trial is being held, was closed on Monday, Sept. 5 for Labor Day. The courthouse was again closed Tuesday because of an “operational issue.”
Jurors went five consecutive days without hearing any arguments before proceedings resumed Wednesday.
Beyond the scheduling, the case’s sheer size has also prompted a slowdown. Kelly and his two co-defendants, Derrel McDavid and Milton “June” Brown, are all presenting their own, individual defense cases, and each party has the chance to cross-examine witnesses called to testify.
A federal grand jury in Chicago indicted Kelly on 13 counts in July 2019, accusing him of producing and receiving child pornography, while also enticing minors to engage in illegal sexual activity. Earlier this year, Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison by a federal judge in Brooklyn after he was found guilty of racketeering.
McDavid and Brown are charged with one count of conspiracy to receive child pornography. McDavid also faces two counts of receiving child pornography and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice related to Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial in Cook County.
Prosecutors allege Kelly and those in his inner circle paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years in an effort to track down video tapes that Kelly made that allegedly show him engaging in sexual activity with underage victims.