R&B singer Stephanie "Sparkle" Edwards clashed with defense lawyer Ed Genson this afternoon when Genson said Edwards was driven by revenge and money in identifying a relative of hers as the girl on the alleged R. Kelly sex tape.
At one point, Edwards and Genson were shouting at each other simultaneously and the singer called the 66-year-old lawyer "Sweetie."
"I am not your sweetie!" Genson shouted.
The exchange drew a stern rebuke from Judge Vincent Gaughan. "I don't want you talking at the same time. This is a court of law."
Edwards, who had a 1998 hit called "Be Careful" with Kelly, dabbed tears from her eyes with a tissue during direct examination by assistant state's attorney Shauna Boliker. But under a blistering cross-examination by Genson, she kept her composure.
Edwards took the stand at around 2:30, wearing large silver hoop earrings, with a small patch of glitter near her left eye. She told Boliker of receiving a phone call in December 2001 from a lawyer named "Buddy," who wanted her to view a videotape.
"There was this thing out there possibly depicting my [relative]," Edwards said.
The lawyer, who according to later testimony was named Buddy Meyers, sent an assistant to Sparkle's Chicago residence to show her the tape. The lawyer insisted that no one else be present, Edwards said.
After watching the tape, she determined the girl shown engaging in sex acts was her relative, and the man was Kelly, she said. Edwards said in February 2002 she saw the tape again with Sun-Times pop music critic Jim DeRogatis, who had been sent the tape anonymously.
She said her relative appeared to be 13 or 14 in the tape, which includes scenes of intercourse, oral sex, and a man alleged to be Kelly urinating on the girl.
"You know your blood. I mean, she's my [relative]. Her face, her hairdo. You just know your family," Edwards said.
Edwards recounted how Kelly had launched her singing career, writing and producing her million-selling first album. After that project, she broke from Kelly, and she never again achieved that level of success, she admitted.
When her working relationship with Kelly was still intact, she introduced him to her young relative. "He liked her spirit. She was a very jolly person at the time. Very personable. Very light. She was my heart," Edwards said.
Boliker showed Edwards photos of Kelly's former residence at 1010 W. George, where the sex tape was allegedly made. The photos included shots of a mural depicting a basketball game between R. Kelly and the Tasmanian Devil, with Michael Jordan as the referee. One shot was of a scoreboard that read, "R. Kelly versus Taz D."
Genson, on cross examination, pointed out that the cartoon images were from the movie "Space Jam," for which Kelly had provided music. He then began asking Edwards about "midnight missionaries" who sometimes came by Kelly's recording studio.
"Do you remember going to that church and praying for things like seduction and adultery?" Genson asked her.
Genson then got Edwards to talk about her break wth Kelly. She had wanted to work with other artists, "but that didn't go over well," she said.
"I asked to be released," she added, and then went to make a record for Motown. Edwards made that one record, and has not made any since, she said.
In spite of the end of their professional relationship, "He was my homeboy. We were still cool," Edwards said.
"You weren't angry you'd been terminated?" Genson asked, suggesting Sparkle was after more money.
"More money? I hadn't gotten any money. I haven't gotten any royalties yet," she said.
After breaking with Kelly, Edwards talked about doing a deal with Barry Hankerson, a record producer who also had a record label, Blackground.
"Was part of the deal you were talking about doing something bad to Robert?" Genson asked.
"No," Edwards said.
But Sparkle admitted she was the one who got her young relative to start calling Kelly "Godfather."
"Robert and I would play around, because he loved the Godfather movie. And he would do the whole thing with the ball in his jaw," Edwards said. "She just kind of took to him as a father figure."
Genson pointed to Edwards' 2002 grand jury testimony, in which she said she never saw signs of a physical relationship between Kelly and her young relative. But on Thursday afternoon, Edwards said, "I saw little things, but nothing crazy."
"Did you say you saw little things at the grand jury?" Genson said.
Prosecutors objected, saying the question had been asked and answered. Gaughan overruled them, saying, "It changes each time. If it was asked and answered, I'd put an end to it."
The tension mounted as Genson asked if Edwards knew the tape was being sold all around Oak Park, the suburb where the family was based.
"You don't know if someone put together a tape, put together a tape of old footage," Genson said.
"Sir, it's Robert [Kelly] and [the alleged victim] on that tape," Edwards said.
"You don't like Robert!" Genson said.
"I know my family," Sparkle retorted.
Genson then asked if Edwards truly believed it was her relative on the tape, taking money for sex.
"Just like he made her do ... She's a robot on this tape," Edwards said.