ALEX COHEN, host:
In Chicago, the fate of the R&B singer R. Kelly is with the jury now. He is accused of child pornography, filming himself having sex with a girl prosecutors say was as young as 13. Now, this has been a truly bizarre trial. Here with the highlights, or maybe I should say lowlights, is Chicago Public Radio's Natalie Moore. Natalie, first, let's talk about the closing arguments. The defense went yesterday. What did R. Kelly's lawyer say?
NATALIE MOORE: He's had a little something for everybody on the jury. There's an immigrant on there, and so he had an American dream in his argument. There's a woman who's the wife of a pastor, so he threw in a couple of Bible verses. And there are also some young people. He even threw in a reference to comedian Dave Chappelle.
But the argument is, look, this is not R. Kelly. This is not the girl. This is a grainy tape. You know, the jury has really played it straight. They take copious notes. They usually don't have any visible signs of disgust or even joy on their faces. But the defense did get some laughs and some smiles out of them, which is something that we haven't seen.
COHEN: So, the central argument, as I understand it, is that this isn't him on the tape. There's a guy with a mole on the tape on his back and R. Kelly doesn't have that. It was doctored and made up by someone who wants to extort the singer.
MOORE: Yes. And that's another thing that the defense is arguing that, look this is all about money and extortion. The family never went to the police and there was an aunt who was a police officer. They went to a lawyer for money. Now, the prosecution is saying, this is Robert Kelly. This is the alleged victim. They had a relationship. That's documented. He called her his goddaughter, and friends and family, and even a basketball coach, all testified this is her on this tape.
COHEN: And what are they saying about the defense claim that this could have been a doctored tape?
MOORE: Well, they say that the defense has an inadequate video forensic expert. He has not had the FBI training that their guy has had, and they argue that this tape was made in 1998 to 2000, where the technology, back then, is nowhere near what he wave now. And the mole was really interesting, because it is only a fourth of a second on the video. So...
COHEN: So, I mean, really, he's facing serious charges, right? I mean, he could go to prison for up to 15 years.
COHEN: But this is all going to fall - rise and fall, so to speak, on a mole?
MOORE: Possibly, but, you know, there's also the testimony. There is also - the woman who's the bombshell witness does have immunity, and the jury will have to weigh that as well. And the tape is a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy, so it's multi-generational. And the defense loves to say that. Look, we don't even know where this tape came from.
COHEN: So, this bombshell witness, this Lisa Van Allen, this was the prosecution's main witness?
MOORE: She caused, I would say, some of the most controversy and was one of the juiciest witnesses. She said that she had a sexual relationship with R. Kelly, and had a three-way sexual encounter with him and this alleged victim.
COHEN: How is this trial reverberating outside the courtroom? What's been the reaction out in Chicago?
MOORE: That he's going to get acquitted. That's what a lot of people tell me, or they think he's guilty but they don't think the charges are going to stick. There are two girls who came to court every single day. They are about 18 or 19, and they love R. Kelly, and none of this evidence affects them. I talked to them in the elevator one day, and they're like, oh, he's getting off. One day, one of them screamed in the hallway when they saw him.
The buzz around the city is that R. Kelly has a problem with young girls. They'd talk about - he was married to the R&B singer, Aaliyah, when she was 15 back in the 1990s, but none of that is brought up in the trial. So, this jury is only hearing about this case. But people out on the streets who, you know, are familiar with his music, they say he has a problem. And then there's a large contingency that says, look, we love R. Kelly. He's the man. This is a fake tape.
COHEN: Natalie Moore of Chicago Public Radio, covering the R. Kelly trial. The jury, now deliberating his fate. Thank you, Natalie.
MOORE: Thank you.
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MADELEINE BRAND, host:
What to see at the movies this weekend, when Day to Day continues.
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