(Editor’s note: This article has been revised since its first publication to reflect changes in the jury.)
CHICAGO — R. Kelly’s jury is complete. The prosecution and defense, after arguing about the racial makeup of the pool once again, have finally agreed on the 12 jurors and three alternates who will determine the singer’s fate in his child-pornography trial.
Kelly’s jury consists of eight white people and four black people (with one Latino and two black alternates). The jury also skews mostly male, with nine men and three women (with one man and two women as alternates). Age-wise, the jury is about evenly split between young and middle-age adults.
THE R. KELLY TRIAL: IN BRIEF
Status of Trial
What’s at Stake?
For full coverage of the ongoing R. Kelly case, see The R. Kelly Trial Reports.
But demographics only tell us so much . What are these jurors’ life experiences? Their attitudes? And how might that impact Kelly’s case? With the caveat that each of these jurors was able to look at Kelly and his defense team, as well as the prosecution, and promise a fair trial, let’s meet the jury. (Their designated numbers were from the prospective pool and will likely change as they are empanelled next week.)
» Juror #69 is a white male in his 30s who is the vice president of national accounts for his company and travels a lot for work. He listens to NPR and reads Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, but his wife reads Us Weekly. He once sought employment from the attorney general’s office, and he believes that the criminal-justice system has a bias against minorities. He’s the father of two small children, and he believes that “child porn is as low as it gets.” On his jury questionnaire, he said that he believed Kelly was guilty, but he told the lawyers he’s willing to put that aside to hear the evidence.
» Juror #6 is a black female in her 40s or 50s who is the wife of a Baptist preacher. She lives in the same area of Chicago as Kelly, Olympia Fields, but she did not know much about him or the case: “I have not heard the local scuttlebutt,” she said. When asked if she had ever been the victim of a crime, she mentioned that a mentally ill man once broke into her home and took off his clothes while she and her husband were asleep; she got an order of protection against him.
» Juror #9 is a black male in his late 50s who works in telecommunications and identifies himself as Christian. He reads USA Today and watches CNN. He’s not a fan of pornography and said that he didn’t like going into 7-Eleven stores and seeing pornographic magazines displayed, but “if a person wants it,” he’s not going to argue with their right to look at it. He’s heard of Kelly but could only name one song: “I Believe I Can Fly.” “My kids could tell you more,” he said. He’s also heard of witness, and former R. Kelly manager, Barry Hankerson .
» Juror #21 is a white female in her 20s and is a criminal-justice student. She wants to be a police officer, and her father and boyfriend are both security guards. When asked if she had heard of Kelly, she said, “Just that he was a singer and that he was arrested.” She could only name one or two songs of his, and referred to his music as “very old stuff.” She has a final on Monday, and to accommodate her, the trial won’t start until Tuesday.
» Juror #22 is a white male in his 40s, and he’s served on two other juries before, in civil-lawsuit cases. He likes to get up early to read the newspaper, but he doesn’t like the Chicago Sun-Times; he will only read that paper if it’s free in the cafeteria at work. “I won’t buy it,” he said. He knows someone in jail for DUI.
» Juror #23 is a white male in his 30s who works as an investment banker but dresses very casually. He’s against the death penalty and wore an “Impeach Bush” button to jury duty. He reads Vanity Fair, The New York Times, The Economist and The Nation. He has friends who are attorneys and judges, but the only celebrity cases he followed were O.J. Simpson’s and Clarence Thomas’. “I would hold myself to a very high standard,” he said when asked about being fair.
» Juror #32 is a black female in her late 20s who works as a teaching assistant at a Catholic school where there was a sex scandal (a priest was accused of molesting two boys). She had heard of Kelly and his onetime protégé Sparkle and knew the name of the alleged victim but didn’t know her personally. She discussed the video in question with her friends, and they’re split — some think it was him, some think it wasn’t. “I’m not sure,” she said. “I can’t say.”
» Juror #40 is a black male in his 30s or 40s, and he’s a culinary student, while his wife works with the mentally challenged. He’s heard of both Sparkle and Hankerson. He has followed the T.I. and Wesley Snipes cases closely, but he hasn’t seen the tape or followed this story and only has heard it mentioned on AM talk radio.
» Juror #48 is a white male in his 20s and is a recent college graduate. In another state, he was arrested for underage drinking (for which he paid a $450 fine) and possession of marijuana (for which he served five days and paid a $350 fine). He thinks people with money can afford “better lawyers” but said that people “are entitled to their representation.” He has followed the Michael Vick case but said he is too young to remember O.J.
» Juror #44 is a white male in his 30s or 40s, who owns a financial company. He once applied for a job with the state attorney’s office 15 years ago. He’s been involved in a child-custody case, which would mean he has children, but he didn’t specify. He saw a faded-out version of the video on the evening news, but he’s indifferent to it and has no opinion of the case.
» Juror #61 is a white male in his 60s who emigrated from Romania and has been in the U.S. for 38 years. He thinks the U.S. has a better justice system than his home country but seemed confused a little bit on how much the prosecution would have to prove (beyond a reasonable doubt is the standard, but he kept saying it would have to be 100 percent). “When I go to bed, I want to have a clear conscience,” he said. “I’m probably not the smartest guy, but I will do what is best and fair.” Before he retired, he used to work 12 hours a day, five days a week. He also didn’t recognize Kelly at the defense table, even though he said he had heard of the case.
» Juror #66 is a white male in his 20s. He was an intern at a radio station while in college, and once out, applied for a job with the Chicago police force. He previously served on a jury in 2002 for a first-degree murder case. His uncle was convicted on child pornography charges.
This last juror replaced Juror #68, a white woman in her 20s who did her undergraduate studies and graduate work out of state. She was removed from the jury on May 20 after expressing concern over the financial difficulties the trial would cause her.
During jury selection, when asked why she has a personalized license plate about violence prevention, she said it was because of her rape case, for which she had sought justice but prosecutors didn’t get an indictment. When asked if she could put aside what happened to her for this case, she said, “It would be very hard, but yes.” When asked if she could be impartial in a case involving pornography with a child, she said, “It would be really difficult, but yes.”
The defense wanted to strike #68 but had used up all of its peremptory strikes in some squabbling with the prosecution about how many black people versus white people were on the jury. Defense attorney Sam Adam Sr. accused the prosecution once again of using most of its challenges against black jurors, while prosecutor Shauna Boliker countered that the defense had used all of its peremptory strikes against whites.
Defense attorney Ed Genson even asked the judge to grant the defense one extra peremptory strike, and when Judge Vincent Gaughan asked on what grounds, Genson said, “Because we’ve run out of them.”
For full coverage of the R. Kelly case, see The R. Kelly Reports.