A juror in R Kelly’s child pornography and obstruction of justice trial suffered a panic attack during around four hours of graphic closing arguments in the case as she couldn’t bear to hear “one minute more”.
The white woman who works for a public library was excused by the judge at Dirksen US Courthouse, Chicago, around 3.30pm local time.
US District Judge Harry Leinenweber said: “I’ve been advised she said she can’t go on one minute more,” before he replaced Juror number 44 with Juror 83, a white man.
The switch came after Assistant US Attorney Elizabeth Pozolo and a defense attorney had presented closing arguments, with the trial continuing after the swap was made.
Kelly – real name Robert Sylvester Kelly – faces an indictment charging him with 13 counts of producing and receiving child pornography, enticing minors to engage in criminal sexual activity, and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
The 55-year-old is already serving a 30-year prison sentence after he was found guilty last year in New York City on charges of federal racketeering and sex trafficking.
Ms Pozolo told jurors on Monday the disgraced ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ singer had committed “horrible crimes” against children and, with help from his business associates, tried to cover his actions as he knew they would be “completely damning”.
Kelly is being tried alongside his former business manager, Derrel McDavid, and an associate, Milton ‘June’ Brown, both accused of conspiring with him to intimidate and bribe witnesses and to cover up evidence in a 2008 criminal trial on child pornography charges in Cook County.
The pair have been accused or trying to buy back incriminating sex tapes that had been taken from Kelly’s collection and to hide years of alleged sexual abuse of underage girls.
Of the three, only McDavid testified during the trial.
In closing arguments, McDavid’s defense attorney, Beau Brindley, attacked the credibility of two government witnesses who testified he conspired with Kelly.
Brindley said: “The only two people who said he did anything wrong are two people who plainly lied. The evidence fits together to expose a lie.”
Mary Judge, a lawyer for Brown, claimed he was merely “an assistant” to Kelly who did not know about wrongdoing and so couldn’t have been involved in covering it up.
Kelly, who has denied the current charges, was acquitted in 2008 in a case that revolved around one of the tapes after the girl who purportedly appeared in the recording refused to testify at the trial.
Jurors at the time said that made it difficult for them to convict Kelly.
The woman, who is now 37 and was identified by the pseudonym Jane in court, was the prosecution’s star witness in this trial, and testified she had sex with Kelly hundreds of times from age 15 to 18.
Pozolo said in closing arguments Kelly “took advantage” of Jane’s youth for his “sick pleasure.”
Jurors heard only from Pozolo, Brindley and Judge on Monday.
Closing arguments will continue on Tuesday (13.09.22) with Judge and Kelly's attorney.