CHICAGO — It seems it isn't easy being a member of the jury on R. Kelly's child-pornography trialR. Kelly's child-pornography trial. One juror had a temper tantrum at dinner Thursday night and nearly got himself kicked off the case, and another asked to be relieved of duty on Friday (June 13), during the second day of deliberations.
Shortly before noon on Friday, juror #40, a black male in his 40s, sent a note to the judge asking, "How can I be removed and go home? I really need to."
In a hearing to determine whether he would be relieved, #40 said his cousin passed away on Monday, and he wanted to find out about funeral arrangements. He also said his uncle and wife were hospitalized this week. But Judge Vincent Gaughan asked the man to remain on the jury and told the court deputies to call the man's family members for information on the cousin's funeral.
Sequestration is also weighing on juror #44, a white male in his 40s, who was upset with the table service at the restaurant where all the jurors were dining.
"I've been waiting for a f---ing half-hour for a drink. All I want is a couple beers and a hamburger," juror #44 yelled, according to the testimony of three deputies who were sworn in during a hearing Friday to discuss the matter.
After his outburst, the deputies said they told him, "That's enough of that language." His fellow jurors told him, "There's no need for that."
"You guys have been monitoring me all day; you know I'm not drunk," # 44 allegedly responded. The deputies said, they took him outside, where they had to restrain him, claiming he turned violent — even though he was also laughing and calling himself "an a--hole."
Gaughan told the court that it was an option to remove the juror, but the defense objected. "We ask you to direct the jury to continue," Kelly attorney Sam Adam Sr. said.
Gaughan questioned #44 to see what the problem was and whether he would be able to continue deliberations without incident, but the juror laughed in response.
"Why are you laughing?" Gaughan asked. "You're grinning at me. Do you have mental problems?"
Juror 44 explained that he was becoming a bit claustrophobic. The judge advised him that his "actions have consequences."
"I don't want any more outbursts," Gaughan said.
After the judge polled the jury to make sure the other members were willing to continue deliberations with the problem juror, # 44 rejoined the panel. Five minutes later, however, the other jurors sent the judge a note saying they wanted to discuss the matter further.
But later on Friday, the jury asked if they could deliberate until 7 or 8 pm CT. "I think we're at the point of no return," Gaughan said, inferring that the jury would reach a verdict without any further changes. He then released the three alternates.
[This story was originally published at 1:50 pm E.T. on 6.13.2008]
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.