The last four additions to the R. Kelly jury include a Romanian immigrant, a woman in her 20s, a man who has been busted for pot possession, and a man whose brother was once turned down for a job with the state's attorney's office.
One of the new jurors is a white woman, apparently in her 20s. The woman said she was once the victim of a crime in Ohio. Her case went to a grand jury, but the suspect was never indicted, she said. Asked if she could put that experience aside and be fair to Kelly, the woman said, “It would be hard, but yes.”
She also said it would be “really difficult” for her to be impartial in a case involving child pornography.
Kelly stroked his chin as the woman spoke.
Later, when the lawyers and Judge Vincent Gaughan were haggling over which potential jurors would make the cut, defense lawyer Ed Genson asked Gaughan to dismiss the woman for cause.
By that point, the defense had used up all seven of its peremptory challenges—which give them the right to dismiss jurors without explanation.
Genson argued the woman’s past experience as a crime victim meant she could not be impartial. But Gaughan brushed the objection aside. “She looked at Mr. Kelly and said she could give him a fair trial,” the judge said.
Another new juror is a 68-year-old man who immigrated to the U.S. from Romania 38 years ago.
He appeared totally devoid of biases or preconceived ideas. "I will go by the facts of the case, not by what someone alleges," he said. "The scoresheet begins at the beginning of the trial, zero-zero."
"The U.S. is a unique country. Everyone who comes here is innocent until proven guilty," he said. "Everybody has to prove their case... When I go to bed, I want a clear conscience. I will do what is best and fair."
The man must have appeared especially perfect to the defense when he said that if he was only 95 percent sure of Kelly's guilt, he woud "need more information."
And if Kelly does not testify, the man said, "that's because the prosecutors didn't prove their case."
Though he professed not to know much about the case, the man knew the charges were brought against Kelly six years ago. "He's not guilty in my mind if he's accused," he said.
Kelly often nodded as if in agreement to the potential juror's answers — especially when the man said, "In this case, I have pride, I don't have ego."
Another juror recently graduated from the University of Kansas—and said he is too young to remember the O.J. Simpson trial. He has past arrests for marijuana possession—for which he did five days in jail—and underage drinking, both in Kansas. He opined that a person’s wealth could influence how he fares in the legal system.
“If you can’t afford a lawyer, you do not know the law and cannot have a fair trial,” he said.
The final new juror has a goatee and appears to be in his 30s. He said he knew little about Kelly and had no opinion of the justice system. His brother was once turned down for a job with the state’s attorney’s office, but that would not affect his judgment, the man said.