R. Kelly’s second bid for prison release denied despite new COVID-19 cases
The jail now has over a dozen Coronavirus cases between inmates and staff.
R. Kelly’s second bid to be released from a federal jail into home confinement due to the pandemic has been denied. US District Judge Ann Donnelly ruled her second decision against the embattled R&B singer’s release on Tuesday (April 21).
“The risks associated with the defendant’s release have not changed,” Donnelly wrote in her decision, adding that Kelly could “intimidate prospective witnesses” if he’s released.
“The defendant continues to downplay the risk that he might flee, citing his attendance record in connection with the 2002 state criminal charges against him,” she continued. “Even aside from the risk of flight, the risk that the defendant would try to obstruct justice or intimidate prospective witnesses has not dissipated, and poses a danger to the community.”
Donnelly denied Kelly’s first request for home release on April 7, back when the Chicago Metropolitan Correctional Center — where Kelly is currently held — had no COVID-19 cases. However, Kelly’s attorney Mike Leonard made a second attempt for Kelly’s release on April 16, after six prisoners and seven staff members had tested positive for the novel disease.
“We are quite surprised and disappointed by the Judge’s order,” Leonard told USA TODAY. “We believe that it completely overlooks the now well-known fact that the situation and conditions at the MCC Chicago are dangerous to Mr. Kelly and his fellow detainees.”
“In fact, we pointed out in our filing that the number of COVID-19 positive detainees had doubled in a matter of a couple of days, as had the number of infected personnel – and that it is not just six detainees who have been impacted; instead it is two dozen and climbing between detainees and personnel,” he continued. “The government failed to come forward with any credible evidence, beyond conspiracy theories, that Mr. Kelly is a risk of flight… or a danger to the community.”
Kelly is currently awaiting trials for multiple charges in Chicago, New York and Minnesota. His upcoming trial for racketeering and sex trafficking charges in New York is set for this September.