On federal charges stemming from alleged sexual abuse of minors, R.K. The jury that decided Kelly’s fate is expected to be paneled in a Chicago courtroom on Tuesday when the judge will be questioned more on potential jurists’ ability to remain impartial.
US District Judge Harry Leinenweber is scheduled to resume jury selection at 10 a.m. in the large formal courtroom of the Durksen US Courthouse.
The judge questioned a total of 63 potential jurors on Monday, asking each person individually what they knew about the R&B star and the charges against him and his two co-defendants.
By the end of the day, a total of 34 jurors had made it past the first round of questioning — about six shy of where the judge said he wanted to be before moving on to the next stage, which would include the prosecutor and defense counsel. Continuing strikes to reach a final panel of regular jurors and six alternate members.
After this, the opening statement in the case is most likely on Wednesday.
Kelly, 55, was charged with child pornography and obstruction of justice in a 2019 indictment alleging that he, along with others, rigged his Cook County trial by paying a teenage girl, whom he has now Was sexually assaulted on an infamous videotape.
Also facing trial are Kelly’s former business manager, Darrell McDavid, and another associate, Milton “June” Brown, who, according to the indictment, bought back sex tapes taken from Kelly’s archive and spent years of alleged sexual abuse. had planned to hide. of young girls.
Shortly before court began on Monday, Kelly, dressed in a gray suit and tan shirt, was escorted into the courtroom by deputy US marshals and took his seat at a crowded defense table, bowing several times to his lawyers. Whispering to cover his face.
Kelly, who has been in federal custody since her July 2019 arrest, gave a minor wave to the jury pool and was produced by her attorney.
The identities of potential jurors are being shielded from the public during the proceedings, and little was disclosed about them as Leinenweber asked each person to explain the answers given on a written questionnaire.
Of the 63 people questioned personally by the judge over nearly six hours, a total of 29 were dismissed, most of whom reported that they would have trouble being fair to Kelly or her co-defendants.
Some judges, confronted by a potential juror, who is concerned about their neutrality, will attempt to “rehabilitate” them—reminding them of their civic duty to be fair, and explicitly asking whether they would like that. can fulfill the obligation. But Leninweber on Monday dismissed all who expressed even the smallest doubts about his objectivity.
“Thinking about the case and the allegations over the weekend, I can no longer believe strongly that I can be impartial,” one woman said at the beginning of the interrogation. Leninweber immediately forgave him.
Another woman said she went to tae kwon do classes with Kelly’s kids years ago, and the experience may have prevented her from being fair.
Another woman said her work included advocating for children.
“I will do my best to be fair, to be fair. My only concern will be the start of the defensive side, probably,” she said, before Leinenweber pardoned her.
Much of the questioning revolves around the 2019 Lifetime documentary “Surviving Are Kelly,” which several potential jurors said they had seen or at least heard of.
Kelly’s lead attorney, Jennifer Bonzen, asked the judge to automatically strike any jurors who saw the documentary “for cause”, saying they could remain impartial after such exposure. “absurd.”
However, Leinenweber said he would instead try to downplay any potential bias through further inquiries.
On Monday, a woman said she had watched all 12 episodes of the series, but insisted it would not affect her ability to be fair — prompting some audible laughter from some Kelly supporters watching from the courtroom gallery. .
Another potential juror said that he watched part of an episode with his wife but did not remember anything about it.
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“I think I must have slept even before the end of it,” he said.
Leinenweber has said he wanted a win-down pool of at least 40 potential jurors before moving to the permanent strike phase.
This is Kelly’s first criminal case to go before a jury in his hometown since his surprise acquittal 14 years ago in the Cook County case.
Kelly faces a total of 13 counts, including manufacture of child pornography, conspiracy to produce child pornography, and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Some cases carry a minimum prison sentence of 10 years if convicted, while others carry between 5 and 20 years in prison. Prosecutors are also seeking to forfeit $1.5 million in personal funds from Kelly.
Despite the consequences, Kelly still faces decades in prison. in June, he was sentenced Up to 30 years on federal racketeering charges brought in New York. He is appealing both the jury’s decision and the sentence in that case.