R. Kelly told a federal judge on Thursday (Sept. 1) that he will not testify at his ongoing trial in Chicago, Illinois against charges that accuse him of child pornography, enticement of minors for sex, and tampering with his 2008 state trial.
ABC News reports that Judge Harry Leinenweber asked the singer if he had discussed with his lawyers whether to testify, and he confirmed that he did. However, when he was asked if he would testify, Kelly said he would not. The singer was questioned moments before his attorneys and two co-defendants called their first witnesses. Co-defendant Derrel McDavid, a longtime business partner of the singer’s, faces charges of helping Kelly tamper with his 2008 trial. McDavid said he would testify in his own defense. In contrast, co-defendant Milton Brown, charged with receiving child pornography, said he wouldn’t testify.
McDavid’s legal team called their first defense witness, McDavid’s friend and former police officer, Christopher G. Wilson. He testified that McDavid told him in 2001 that Kelly was being blackmailed by someone who was threatening him with videos.
Judge Leinenweber denied a defense motion of acquittal, saying prosecutors presented enough evidence to leave the question of guilt to jurors.
Federal prosecutors rested their case Tuesday (Aug. 30) after calling more than 20 witnesses over the last two weeks. Those witnesses included four women, who testified under aliases and claimed that R. Kelly sexually abused them while they were minors.
Earlier this week, one of the accusers using the pseudonym “Tracy,” told jurors that she met the singer in 1999 when she was 16 years old. According to her testimony, Kelly gave her his number at an expo in Chicago that year, and the sexual abuse began soon after. In contrast, Merry Green, who organized the expo, said she didn’t recall R. Kelly attending the event. However, Green testified that he was a guest the following year in 2000. The singer’s defense team argued that Tracy met him that year when she was of legal age.
Testimonies will continue next week, followed by jury deliberations. Last year, Kelly was convicted of sex trafficking by a federal jury in New York. As a result, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison.