CHICAGO — It would take someone 44 years — working nonstop, 24/7, 365 days a year — to be able to fake the sex tape at the heart of R. Kelly’s child-pornography trial, a forensic video analyst testified Thursday (May 29).
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The singer looked worried as Grant Fredericks took the court through the sex tape, sometimes frame by frame, to show how he had authenticated the tape. More damaging to the defense was that Fredericks then took images of the man on the tape and the room featured on the tape and matched them to Kelly and his former home.
Defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. had practically equated a mole on Kelly’s back — which he said couldn’t be seen in the sex tape — to O.J. Simpson’s glove in his opening argument, essentially saying that if you don’t see the mole, it must not be Kelly. So when Fredericks showed how a spot on the male’s back was in fact visible in a half-second’s worth of footage once the tape was slowed down, the proverbial glove fit. “It’s in the exact same position, at about the same size,” Fredericks said, pointing to a video display.
Fredericks also showed how the wood-panel hot-tub room known as the “Colorado room” at Kelly’s former house was also a match — down to the position of every light, fixture and knot or blemish in the wood. “This was the same location,” he said. “The knots in the wood are like stars in the sky — you can map them all out.”
Based on how cuts in the tape appear during the 26 minutes of footage, Fredericks determined that the eight breaks were in-camera edits, caused when the camera was either turned off or on pause. He also determined that the camera must have been handheld and occasionally on a tripod, since at one point, it’s snapped into position. The tape, however, did not leave the camera during the making of the video, so Fredericks said it was an original, authentic recording, despite the actual tape being a copy several generations removed.
“Are there signs of any manipulation? The quick and simple answer is no,” Fredericks said. “It’s simply not possible. It’s not possible to fabricate these images without detection, and there is no doctoring in any part. We don’t have the technology yet to fabricate the errors and the facial features and the motion and the light in this way, not like this.”
Defense attorney Ed Genson tried to argue that morphing or fabricating the tape must still be possible, but Fredericks stood firm during cross-examination.
“There is no way the tape could be altered, in any fashion at all, any sort of digital manipulation?” Genson asked.
“It could be done, but it wasn’t done on that tape,” Fredericks said.
FBI forensic video expert Grant Skaluba also authenticated the tape Thursday.
Find a review of the major players in the R. Kelly trial here . For full coverage of the R. Kelly case, see the R. Kelly Reports and check out this complete timeline of the events leading up to the trial.