R. Kelly Speaks For The First Time During Trial — To Waive His Right To Testify

Plus: Dispute over video evidence almost derails trial.

CHICAGO — R. Kelly spoke for the first time in his child-pornography trial on Tuesday (June 10) — when he gave up his constitutional right to take the stand in his own defense. Before the jury was brought out, Judge Vincent Gaughan gave the singer one last chance to reconsider.


Status of Trial
The prosecution rested on June 2; the defense rested on June 9. Closing arguments are slated for June 12.

The Charges
Kelly faces 14 counts of child pornography — seven for directing, seven for producing.

What's at Stake?
Kelly faces 15 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. If convicted, he'd have to register as a sex offender.

For full coverage of the ongoing R. Kelly case, see The R. Kelly Trial Reports.

"I know Mr. Kelly has not testified, and the defense has rested," Gaughan said. "Mr. Kelly, you remember during jury selection, I told the jurors you had two rights: the right to testify and the right not to testify."

"Yes, I do," Kelly said.

"And you're the one who makes that decision?" Gaughan asked.

"Yes," Kelly said. "I decided not to testify."

Gaughan said he would instruct the jury that no inference should be made from Kelly's silence. But the judge said (despite a request from the defense) that he would not instruct the jury to give less weight to cross-racial identifications (such as when a white person IDs a black person, as a handful of people had done with the girl on the tape). Prosecutor Shauna Boliker argued that these IDs shouldn't be considered less accurate on the basis of race alone, since these particular witnesses came from cross-racial families and had a relationship with the girl in question. "We're not talking about a first-time ID here," she said. The judge also ruled that the jurors would be allowed to play back the sex tape in the jury room, if they so wish (denying a defense request that the tape only be played back in open court).

During rebuttal testimony, however, the trial nearly derailed over a dispute about this video evidence, when it came to light that the defense's forensic video expert, Charles Palm, had based his analysis on the wrong copy of the sex tape. The prosecution's forensic video expert, Grant Fredericks, took the stand again to rebut Palm's testimony, saying that Palm had not used an appropriate player or format to make his analysis. "This is forensic video 101," Fredericks said, calling Palm's work "flawed."

In discussing Palm's methods — which introduced artifacts of electronic noise and removed some of the original information — Kelly attorney Ed Genson accused the prosecution and their expert of misleading the defense by providing the wrong copy and then stipulating that this copy was a "true and accurate" representation of the original. Fredericks said that it was obviously not the right copy, and Palm should have discovered the difference. "He trusted you!" Genson shouted.

After discussing the matter in chambers — as court observers predicted that the defense would claim grounds for a mistrial — the attorneys for both sides emerged and said they had worked out a resolution, but they did not discuss in open court what the resolution was.

Fulton County Assistant District Attorney Bobby Wolf also took the stand as a rebuttal witness for the state, testifying that no consideration had been given to Yul Brown in Atlanta for his fiancee Lisa Van Allen's testimony in Chicago. Rather, Wolf said he had recommended prison time for Brown, but the judge decided to give Brown a lesser sentence of probation for his gun and drug charges.

Closing arguments are slated to begin Thursday morning.

Find a review of the major players in the R. Kelly trial here. For full coverage of the case, read the R. Kelly Reports and check out this complete timeline of the events leading up to the trial.