R Kelly Found NOT GUILTY in Child Sex Case

June 13, 2008

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A Chicago jury has acquitted R. Kelly on all counts at his child pornography trial.

The verdict came six years after the R&B superstar was first charged with videotaping himself having sex with a young girl. Prosecutors had said she was as young as 13 at the time.

The Grammy award-winning singer dabbed his face with a handkerchief and hugged each of his four attorneys after the verdict was read. The singer had faced 15 years in prison if convicted.

Both Kelly and the now 23-year-old alleged victim had denied they were the ones appearing on the tape, which was played for the jury at the beginning and end of the trial.

The prosecution’s star witness was a woman who said she engaged in three-way sex with Kelly and the girl from the video. Defense attorneys argued the man on the tape didn’t have a large mole on his back, as Kelly does.

The jury of nine men and three women included the wife of a Baptist preacher from Kelly’s Chicago-area hometown, as well as a compliance officer for a Chicago investment firm and a man in his 60s who emigrated from then-Communist Romania nearly 40 years ago.

Jurors took the sex tape at the center of the trial with them, and a monitor was set up in the jury room in case they wanted to review it.

Kelly was charged with 14 counts of videotaping himself having sex with an underage girl, who prosecutors say was as young as 13.

The 41-year-old superstar’s trial was repeatedly delayed, once because the judge seriously injured himself falling off a ladder and another time because Kelly had emergency surgery to remove his appendix.

In closing arguments, Kelly’s attorney banged on the jury box with his fist, yelled and whispered, laughed and pleaded for more than in hour in his emotion-filled closing.

At one point, Sam Adam Jr. referred to a defense argument made repeatedly during the trial that a mole on the singer’s back proved he simply can’t be the man in the video.

After displaying a freeze frame of the man’s back in the video — with no apparent mole — Adam walked over to the defense table and placed his hand on Kelly’s shoulder.

“The truth be told, there is no mole … that means one thing,” Adam told jurors, then paused and lowered his voice. “It ain’t him. And if it ain’t him, you can’t convict.”

Prosecutors wrapped up their arguments the same way they began them a month ago: by playing the entire graphic sex tape in open court.

The 27-minute film played on a monitor just outside the jury box — the lights switched off and the blinds pulled across courtroom windows — as Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Heilengoetter read through sections of the indictment.

Neither Kelly nor the alleged victim testified at trial. But as the video played Thursday, Heilengoetter told jurors the man on the tape is Kelly and that he controlled the encounter.

Kelly sat across the room from jurors at the defense table in a gray pinstripe suit, his hands folded in front of him. As the sex tape played, he appeared tense, keeping his eyes on the monitor, his mouth drawn tight and his brow furrowed.

Over seven days presenting their case, prosecutors called 22 witnesses, including several childhood friends of the alleged victim and four of her relatives who identified her as the female on the video.

In two days, the Grammy winner’s lawyers called 12 witnesses. They included three relatives of the alleged victim who testified they did not recognize her as the female on the tape.

During the trial, Kelly endeavored to make a good impression on jurors, always standing straight and folding his hands in front of him whenever they entered the courtroom. Jurors, in turn, made a good impression on Judge Vincent Gaughan, who repeatedly praised their attentiveness. All appeared to take careful notes, even when testimony became highly technical.

This story is courtesy of CNN.COM

iNPLACENEWS

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Groom’s Killers Found Not Guilty

April 25, 2008

A judge acquitted three New York Police Department detectives of all charges Friday morning in the shooting death of an unarmed man in a 50-bullet barrage, hours before he was to be married.

Detectives Michael Oliver, left, Gescard Isnora and Marc Cooper were accused in the 50-bullet barrage.

Detectives Michael Oliver and Gescard Isnora were found not guilty of charges of manslaughter, assault and reckless endangerment in the death of Sean Bell, 23, and the wounding of two of his friends.

Detective Marc Cooper was acquitted of reckless endangerment.

Justice Arthur Cooperman said he found problems with the prosecution’s case. He said some prosecution witnesses contradicted themselves, and he cited prior convictions and incarcerations of witnesses.

He also cited the demeanor of some witnesses on the stand.

As the judge read his decision, Nicole Paultre Bell — Sean Bell’s fiancee before his death — ran from the courtroom, saying, “I’ve got to get out of here.”

The announcement immediately sparked anger among some in the crowd outside the courthouse, but the protests were generally orderly.

One woman shouted at a black police officer, “How can you be proud to wear that uniform? Stand down! Stop working for the masters!”

Patrick Lynch, president of the New York Police Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said “there’s no winners, there’s no losers” in the case.

“We still have a death that occurred. We still have police officers that have to live with the fact that there was a death involved in their case,” Lynch said.

But, he added, the verdict assured police officers that they will be treated fairly in New York’s courts.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who has been advising Bell’s fiancee and family, left the courthouse about an hour after the verdict without making a public statement. He had called for calm Wednesday.

Bell, 23, was killed just before dawn on his wedding day, November 25, 2006. He and several friends were winding up an all-night bachelor party at the Kalua Club in Queens, a strip club that was under investigation by a NYPD undercover unit looking into complaints of guns, drugs and prostitution.

Undercover detectives were inside the club, and plainclothes officers were stationed outside.

Witnesses said that about 4 a.m., closing time, as Bell and his friends left the club, an argument broke out. Believing that one of Bell’s friends, Joseph Guzman, was going to get a gun from Bell’s car, one of the undercover detectives followed the men and called for backup.

What happened next was at the heart of the trial, prosecuted by the assistant district attorney in Queens.

The rest of the story can be read @ CNN.com

iNPLACENEWS