Closing arguments complete; Deliberations begin

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If jurors decide that R. Kelly is guilty they will be telling the world that the alleged victim in his child pornography trial is "a whore," Kelly's attorney said in closing arguments at lunchtime.

Closing arguments have since wrapped up, and the jury began deliberating at 2:30 p.m.

Speaking after prosecutors had showed the jury the notorious sex tape at the center of the case one last time, defense attorney Sam Adam Jr said that the girl on the tape had accepted cash before performing a series of sex acts.

Showing the jury a studio photograph of the alleged victim on a large screen, he then told them that if they were going to find Kelly guilty of 14 counts of child pornography, "you are going to have to call (the alleged victim) 14 times individually and collectively a whore."

Barely audible, he whispered, "My momma told me when we were kids, 'if you ain't got something nice to say about someone, don't say it about her."

He concluded his argument saying, "How are you 14 times going to call her a whore?"

Adam had earlier reasserted his claim that the man on the tape does not have a mole on his back, as Kelly does. "It comes and goes," he said.

But, closing for the prosecution, assistant state's attorney Robert Heilingoetter said, "We're not saying that she's a prostitute - we're saying, based on the evidence that you heard in this trial that she is the victim of child pornography."

He told the 12 jurors and three alternates that, "Today is the opportunity to hold the defendant responsible for the production of this tape," adding, "the opportunity to hold him criminally responsible will never come again."

Heilingoetter compared photos of the alleged victim with still images from the tape, noting similarities.

He told the jury that they had seen Stephanie "Sparkle" Edwards, who introduced the alleged victim to Kelly when she was 12, testify what a "very happy person" the alleged victim was.

"You could see the feeling of betrayal," Heilingoetter said of Sparkle, "You could feel her outrage."

"She told you 'It's Robert (Kelly) and (the alleged victim) - I know my family,'" he added.

He said that the background in the sex tape "is (Kelly's) house."

He added, "What about his face? What about his voice? What about his body? What about her face? What about her body? What about her voice?"

Fully 15 witnesses had identified the alleged victim as being on the tape, he said, including her best friend. A dozen identified Kelly, he said, pointing out that Kelly's personal assistant had seen the alleged victim arrive at Kelly's recording studio with an overnight bag and a pillow, and that the alleged victim's best friend had testified that the alleged victim sometimes stayed overnight with Kelly.

Kelly "had the opportunity to commit what is shown" on the sex tape, he said.

Lisa Van Allen, the prosecution witness who testified she had three-way sex with Kelly and the alleged victim "lived with this defendant" Heilingoetter said. Though the defense has painted Van Allen as an extortionist and liar who has dated conmen, Heilingoetter said it was "undisputed" that Van Allen and Kelly were once close.

He said evidence showed that Kelly carried a duffel bag full of homemade porn with him "everywhere."

Ridiculing the defense's theory that the tape at the center of the case was faked, he suggested it was more likely the tape was "lifted out of (Kelly's) duffel bag while he was performing in the studio."

Heilingoetter played the 27 minute long tape again for the jury, giving a running commentary.

He said that even though the tape was "a copy of a copy of a copy" that "in no way excuses this type of crime."

Pointing to Kelly, he concluded, "Hold him responsible by holding him responsible for each of the 14 counts of child pornography, because that is what the evidence has shown."

Adam accused prosecutors of putting the jury in the same spot as all of the witnesses who identified Kelly and the alleged victim on the tape.

"They sit you down for four and a half weeks and they play that video for you," he said, asking the jurors to imagine "the pressure" prosecutors would have put the witnesses under to make positive identifications.

"What chance would a witness have to say, "'I may have been wrong,'" he said.

Rumors in the Oak Park community where the alleged victim and many of her friends lived were behind the identifications, he suggested.

Referring to Sparkle's testimony, he said he was "flabbergasted" that the state would rely on her, suggesting that Sparkle was after a "meal ticket", because she initially contacted an attorney, not police, when she first saw the tape.

"That's what this is about - money, money, money," he said, banging the jury box with his fist with each repetition.

Adam said that if the alleged victim really was on the tape, she and her parents would have testified for the prosecution.

"You know what she's going to say and that she's already said it," he said, referring to the alleged victim's Grand Jury testimony, in which she denied being the girl on the tape.

If it was her, her family would have confronted Kelly and "beat the crap out of him," he said.

"Let's be real about this," Adam said, "This was family."

No 13-year-old girl could have kept an affair with a "superstar" like Kelly secret, he said, noting that nobody had raised any concerns at the time of the alleged taping in 1998 or 1999.

"You couldn't keep a 13-year-old girl's mouth quiet about having Hannah Montana tickets," Adam said.

He asked the jury to look around the packed court room and see if they could spot the alleged victim, saying that if they couldn't, they had a reasonable doubt about whether it was her on the tape.

He added, "if you pull up at a McDonalds and the person takes your order and you can't tell if it's (the alleged victim) you" can't convict.

Kelly's attorneys decided not to call the alleged victim to testify because they didn't want to put her through another ordeal, he said.

Every witness who knew the alleged victim's parents had described them as devoted and loving, he added.

Repeating his allegation that Kelly had been framed in an attempted shake-down he added, "from the beginning to the end this is about money."

"This is a set-up," he said.

Kelly doesn't "carry around a bag full of porno tapes like he was a porno Santa Claus," he added, saying Kelly was smart enough to win Grammy awards but would have to be "stupid" to carry incriminating evidence around with him.

Prosecutor Shauna Boliker is currently rebutting the defense's closing argument.

After that, the jury will be read instructions by the judge.

They'll then retire to consider their verdict.

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From a legal point of view, I'm sorry, but the prosecution has left some room for reasonable doubt. There cannot be convictions for defendants who are not proven beyond the scope of reasonable doubt to be guilty. I couldn't see from the beginning of the trial how the case could go on without a complaining witness anyway. That's like a man on trial for burglary but the occupants of the house he was supposed to rob said it wasn't their house.

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R. Kelly on trial


The story of the allegations against R. Kelly started here in the Sun-Times. Almost six years later, it's now finally reached a trial.

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This page contains a single entry by Kim Janssen published on June 12, 2008 12:59 PM.

Closing Arguments: A Preview was the previous entry in this blog.

Boliker rebuts Sam Jr. is the next entry in this blog.

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