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Tuesday November 29th, 2022 3:43PM

Prosecutor: R. Kelly jurors reach a verdict; to be read soon

By The Associated Press
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CHICAGO (AP) — Jurors have reached a verdict at the trial of R. Kelly, who is accused in his hometown of Chicago of 13 charges including producing child pornography, enticing minors for sex and rigging his 2008 child pornography trial, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

The prosecutor’s office said the verdict would be announced soon. The jury deliberated for about 11 hours over two days.

Jurors began deliberating Tuesday after Judge Harry Leinenweber gave them instructions, including explicit descriptions of what constitutes sexual abuse.

Early Wednesday, jurors wrote several questions to the judge, at least one indicating the panelists may be grappling with some of the case’s legal complexities.

One asked if they had to find Kelly both enticed and coerced minors, or that he either enticed or coerced them. Over objections from Kelly’s lawyer, the judge said they only need to find one.

In closing arguments Tuesday, Kelly attorney Jennifer Bonjean likened the government's testimony and evidence to a cockroach and its case to a bowl of soup.

If a cockroach falls into soup, she said, “you don’t just pull out the cockroach and eat the rest of the soup. You throw out the whole soup," said told jurors

“There are just too many cockroaches,” she said.

In her rebuttal Tuesday, prosecutor Jeannice Appenteng told jurors to remember the girls and women who have accused Kelly of abuse.

“When you are in the quiet of the jury room, consider the evidence in light of who is at the center of this case. Kelly’s victims: Jane, Nia, Pauline, Tracy and Brittany,” Appenteng said, referring to five Kelly accusers named in charging documents by pseudonyms or their first names.

As Kelly's fame boomed in the mid-1990s, Appenteng said, his inner circle increasingly focused on doing what the performer born Robert Sylvester Kelly wanted.

“And ladies and gentlemen, what R. Kelly wanted was to have sex with young girls,” she said.

Kelly, 55, was convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking in New York in June and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Bonjean described Kelly as a flawed genius who has been functionally illiterate since childhood and was ill-equipped to navigate his celebrity and growing wealth. She said that he was abused as a child also deeply affected him.

Known for his smash hit “I Believe I Can Fly” and for sex-infused songs such as “Bump n’ Grind,” Kelly sold millions of albums even after allegations of sexual misconduct circulated in the 1990s. Widespread outrage emerged after the #MeToo reckoning and the 2019 Lifetime docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly.”

Kelly and co-defendant Derrell McDavid, Kelly's ex-business manager, are accused of fixing Kelly's 2008 trial on state child porn charges by intimidating and paying off witnesses.

Kelly faces four counts of producing child pornography, one of conspiring to obstruct justice by fixing the 2008 trial, one of conspiring to receive child porn, two of actually receiving it and five of enticing minors for sex.

McDavid is charged with four counts — two for receiving child porn, one for conspiring to do so and one for conspiring to obstruct justice by rigging the 2008 trial, at which Kelly was acquitted.

Co-defendant Milton Brown, a former Kelly associate, faces a single count of conspiring to receive child pornography.

___

Follow Michael Tarm on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mtarm and find AP’s full coverage of the R. Kelly trial at https://apnews.com/hub/r-kelly

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