CHICAGO — Testimony in the R. Kelly child-pornography trial came to an abrupt halt Wednesday afternoon (May 28), when the defense told the judge that a surprise witness had just come forward.
"We never knew about this witness until 9 a.m. this morning, when he called us," Kelly defense attorney Sam Adam Sr. told the court.
THE R. KELLY TRIAL: IN BRIEF|
Status of Trial
Opening arguments began on May 20
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.
Though they had just recessed for the lunch break at 12:45 p.m., Judge Vincent Gaughan called court back in session at 1 p.m. — while the jury, most reporters and the court spectators were still absent — to discuss arrangements for the witness. Although the judge did not say it outright, he implied that the new witness would be called to contradict the prosecution's witness, who had been expected to testify Wednesday afternoon that she allegedly had a threesome with Kelly and the underage girl on the tape.
"This might be [for] impeachment [purposes]," Gaughan said of the surprise witness. "So you need time to interview him."
Adam said that the new witness, who is from out of state, would be arriving on a flight at 6 p.m., and the defense planned to talk to him immediately, "for however long it takes." After deposing the witness, Adam said that he would write up the deposition and fax it to the prosecution by 2 a.m. at the latest.
"I just don't want [the prosecution] to be awake, up all night waiting," Gaughan said.
"Well, I can't make a summary of what he's going to say until I hear him say it," Adam responded.
Since the prosecution might decide to handle direct examination of their witness differently, based on what they surmise the defense witness would say in response, the judge stopped testimony for the rest of the afternoon. He told the jury only that "something had come up."
Two basketball coaches had testified earlier in the day to identify the girl on the tape. One had coached the team of the girl in question, and the other coached the opposing team. The girl's former coach, Jacques Conway, said he recognized her by her face, size, height and the cross she wore on her neck.
During one of the court breaks, when the judge had wanted to discuss something in chambers (presumably the matter of the new witness), the two prosecutors failed to appear, instead convening by themselves in a hallway on the floor below the courtroom, angering Gaughan. "That's selfish," he admonished them later. "Don't do it again, or there will be sanctions."
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.