Eric Herman: June 2008 Archives

Jurors sent to hotel for the night

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Judge Vincent Gaughan has told jurors in the R. Kelly child porn case to stop deliberating — and sent them to a hotel for the night.

Jurors deliberated for more than three hours Thursday afternoon without reaching a verdict. At 5: 50 p.m., Gaughan called them back into his courtroom.

"We're going to make some accomodation for you," the judge told them. He ordered sheriff's deputies to bring the jurors back to the courthouse at 8:30 a.m. Friday to resume deliberations.

Jury requests transcripts

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The R. Kelly jury requested a trial transcript shortly before 4:30 p.m.

The jury of eight whites and four blacks — nine men and three women — asked for transcripts of the entire trial. Failing that, they wanted a transcript of the direct and cross-examinations of Lisa Van Allen. Judge Vincent Gaughan told them no and to resume deliberating.

Van Allen testified June 2 that she had engaged in threesomes with R. Kelly and the girl who allegedly appears in the sex videotape at issue in this case. She said one of the trysts was videotaped by Kelly, and that Kelly's business manager later paid her $20,000 for the tape's return.

Boliker rebuts Sam Jr.

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Rising to rebut Sam Adam Jr.'s closing argument, prosecutor Shauna Boliker told jurors, "this is not a whodunit. It's a 'he did it'."

"The one thing they can't get out from under is that videotape," Boliker said. "They can't, because you're not going to let them do that."

Adam argued passionately for about an hour, quoting sources from Corinthians to Ralph Cramden, sweat dripping from his face. Boliker was more measured. But one by one, she took aim at questions Adam had raised about the prosecution's case.

First, she urged jurors not to forget the 14 witnesses who identified the girl on the tape — and said none of them had testified for "pleasure."

"Maybe they haven't seen her in six or seven years, but they identified her in that period of time," Boliker said.

Closing Arguments: A Preview

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Closing arguments in the R. Kelly child porn case will give the jurors plenty to think about — sex and celebrity, video technology and dermatology, moles and morphing.

But in a trial that has seen its share of bizarre sideshows, the jury's decision will come down to sorting out a few simple facts, according to legal experts.

“It’s not a complicated case," said Leonard Cavise, a professor at the DePaul University College of Law. "You either thinks it’s her and it’s him [on the tape], or you’re done."

Closing arguments are set to begin Thursday morning at 10 a.m. in the courtroom of Judge Vincent Gaughan, where over the past four weeks jurors have listened to testimony by turns salacious and boring. It is up to the prosecutors and defense lawyers to sort through that testimony and hit the points favorable to their case.

Sam Adam Jr. is expected to do the defense's closing argument, sources said. Both Shauna Boliker and Robert Heilingoetter will likely argue for the prosecution, which gets a chance to rebut the defense's closing argument.

Prosecutors will likely emphasize the numerous witnesses who identified the allegedly underage girl on the tape and identified the man as Kelly, experts said. Those witnesses included relatives of the girl, her childhood friends, even her former basketball coach.

Prosecutors can be expected to argue the videotape is real and not the product of digital fakery — and that a dark spot on the male's back matches a mole on Kelly's back. They might also point out that the background on the tape matches photographs of the "log cabin room" in a North Side house Kelly once owned.

Jurors will get sex tape, VCR

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Jurors in the R. Kelly child pornography case will have the original copy of the alleged sex tape during their deliberations, Judge Vincent Gaughan ruled Tuesday. They will also be provided with a VCR and a television set with which to watch the tape.

The defense sought to bar jurors from taking the tape with them into the jury room, saying it might cause them to give it more weight than other evidence.

Defense lawyer Sam Adam Sr. said he had no problem with the jurors reviewing the tape in open court. "The jury sends your honor a note that says they want to see it, that's fine," Adam said.

Defense rests in R. Kelly case

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After just two days of witnesses, R. Kelly's defense team rested Monday morning. The legal team's surprise decision apparently means jurors will not hear from Kelly's "goddaughter" — the female who allegedly appears in the sex tape.

The prosecution plans to put on two rebuttal witnesses on Tuesday: An assistant district attorney from Fulton County, Georgia, and its forensic video expert who has already testified. Closing arguments are expected Thursday.

Jack Palladino — a private investigator best known for being hired by Bill Clinton to track down women he'd been linked with — testified Thursday that the fiance of the prosecution's star witness wanted a $300,000 payoff to keep the witness quiet in the R. Kelly case.

Palladino, of San Francisco, was hired by Kelly to conduct investigations connected to the child pornography case against the singer.

The star witness, Lisa Van Allen, testified Monday that she had engaged in threesomes with R. Kelly and the underage girl who allegedly appears in a sex tape with the singer. As part of her testimony, she said she and her fiance, Yul Brown, met with Palladino in March, and that the investigator threatened her.

Palladino said that even before flying to Atlanta for the meeting, "I had a very good idea they would try to extort money... I wanted to give them the opportunity to commit the crime."

Wednesday afternoon wrapped up with the testimony of Jason Wallace, a sports agent who doubles as a law clerk for defense lawyers Sam Adam Sr. and Sam Adam Jr.

Wallace went with Sam Jr. to Atlanta on May 9 to meet with Lisa Van Allen after the Sun-Times reported that a witness — who turned out to be Van Allen — was allegedly paid off by a Kelly aide for returning a sex tape. The Sun-Times had previously reported the witness would testify she had a threesome with R. Kelly and the underage girl in the sex video.

At a May 10 meeting in the Atlanta Ritz-Carlton, Van Allen's fiance Yul Brown indicated she would change her testimony in exchange for $350,000, Wallace testified Wednesday.

R. Kelly's defense team kicked off their case this afternoon by calling three relatives of the girl who allegedly appears in the sex tape — each of whom said the girl on the tape is not their relative.

Shonna Edwards, 27, was in a singing group with her relative, now 23, during the 1990s, she said. The group toured throughout Europe, she said.

"Was the female in the tape your [relative]?" asked defense lawyer Ed Genson.

"No, she definitely wasn't her," Shonna Edwards said.

Yul Brown and Lisa Van Allen

Lisa Van Allen, whose testimony about threesomes and sex tapes rocked the R. Kelly trial Monday, is "happy" with her testimony and "glad she got a chance to get her story across," her fiance said Tuesday.

Yul Brown, who himself became a subject of cross-examination when Van Allen was testifying, said "there's a lot more that she'd like to say about this case that she couldn't talk about."

Brown, 38, is engaged to Van Allen, a former girlfriend of Kelly's who met the R&B star when she was 17. She is now 27 and pregnant with her second child.

Judge Vincent Gaughan ordered Sun-Times pop music critic Jim DeRogatis to appear in court Wednesday morning or face contempt of court.

DeRogatis will be required to testify as a defense witness in the child pornography trial of R. Kelly, Gaughan ruled, unless the Illinois Appellate Court issues an emergency stay blocking the ruling before tomorrow morning.

The only other way DeRogatis can avoid testifying is by invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination — a possibility the judge mentioned to this afternoon.

Judge Vincent Gaughan accused Sun-Times lawyer Damon Dunn of making "misrepresentations" in his effort to stave off a subpoena to the paper's pop music critic, Jim DeRogatis. The judge also said he was considering having DeRogatis arrested for not showing up in court today.

Gaughan had ordered DeRogatis and Dunn to appear in court today at 10 a.m., but they did not show. The judge then ordered Dunn to appear at 11:30.

R. Kelly's defense team wants to force DeRogatis to testify about receiving the sex tape at the heart of the case. The music critic received the tape anonymously in 2002 and gave it to police.

DeRogatis is not in the building

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Sun-Times pop music critic Jim DeRogatis has not appeared in court yet, though Judge Vincent Gaughan ordered him to show up this morning at 10 a.m.

As reporters and lawyers gathered in the courtroom, Gaughan was seen leaving through the hallway at 10:15, whistling and carrying a manila file folder. He was wearing a raincoat, as if he planned to leave the building.

Court reconvened at 11:30, and Gaughan berated Sun-Times lawyer Damon Dunn for not showing up earlier with DeRogatis. The judge said he had called the hearing "to see whether I'm going to issue a warrant for the arrest of your client," referring to DeRogatis.

One order of crow for Mr. Martin

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03-24-06 kim atty05.jpg
Marc Martin

Defense lawyer Marc Martin had harsh words for the Sun-Times on May 9. That was the first day of jury selection — and the day the Sun-Times ran a front-page exclusive about a woman who had allegedly been in a threesome with Kelly getting paid off for a sex tape.

Martin said the Sun-Times story "is not the subject of any evidence expected to be adduced by the state."

But yesterday, the state adduced exactly that evidence. Prosecutors called to the stand Lisa Van Allen, 27, who testified a Kelly aide paid her and another man $20,000 each for the return of a tape allegedly showing Kelly in a threesome with an underage girl.

Lisa is in the Building

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Lisa Van Allen -- who allegedly will testify she was in a threesome with R. Kelly and an underage girl -- arrived at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse this morning at 8:50 a.m. It is considered likely she will testify today.

Van Allen was accompanied by Yul Brown, 38, who says he is her fiance. The couple held hands as they strolled southbound down California Ave., accompanied by a sheriff's deputy. Then they walked up the front steps of the courthouse.

Van Allen, who might testify today after her testimony was put off twice, is wearing a black dress. Her fiance Brown is wearing a green suit.

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.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by Eric Herman in June 2008.

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