Prosecutors finished their arguments in R&B star R. Kelly’s child pornography case Thursday the same way they began a month ago, by playing for jurors the entire graphic sex tape at the center of the trial.
The 27-minute film played on a monitor just outside the jury’s box ù the lights switched off and the blinds pulled across courtroom windows ù as Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Heilengoetter read through sections of the 14-count indictment that accuses Kelly of videotaping himself having sex with an underage girl. Kelly has pleaded not guilty and both he and the alleged victim, now 23, deny being on the tape. Neither 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. "There, listen to his directions," Heilengoetter said. He is "directing her to dance, where to stand, when to stop urinating," he said. At one point in the video, entered into evidence as "People’s Exhibit No. 1," the female dances and urinates on the floor ù the man out of view. Back in view, he has sex with her. In one scene near the end of the video, alluded to in one count of the indictment, the man urinates on the female. Defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. adamantly denied the 41-year-old superstar was featured in the film. And he called the woman seen on the tape a "professional prostitute" ù not the alleged victim who prosecutors said was as young as 13 when the encounter occurred. Adam insisted that if jurors were to believe prosecutors’ arguments and convict Kelly, they’d also condemn the girl they allege to be on the video. "In order to (find Kelly guilty), and I apologize for saying this, but you are going to have to call her 14 times, individually and collectively, a whore," Adam told the jurors. "You’re going to have to go back (to the jury room) and say to yourself this girl, before the world, is a whore." Kelly sat across the room from jurors at the defense table in a gray pinstripe suit, his hands folded in front of him and his brown shoes tucked under his chair. As the sex tape played, he appeared tense, keeping his eyes on the monitor, his mouth drawn tight and his brow furrowed. Jurors, who began deliberating late Thursday afternoon, had seen the entirety of the tape just after opening arguments more than a month ago, and viewed excerpts during the weeks of testimony. They watched again Thursday without the visible signs of apparent shock present a month ago. "The one person who is responsible is sitting right here," Assistant State’s Attorney Shauna Boliker said, pointing at Kelly and describing the tape as "vile and disgusting." "What you know now is that this is not a whodunit, but a he-did-it," she said. While jurors took meticulous notes during testimony, most rarely paused to take notes Thursday. But they appeared rapt as they listened to Adam’s animated and impassioned closing. His face frequently turning red and his voice occasionally approaching a yell, Adam pounded his index finger and fist on the jury box railing and referred to a defense argument that a mole on Kelly’s back proved he simply can’t be the man in the video. After displaying a freeze frame of the man’s back in video ù with no apparent mole ù 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 said. Then pausing and lowering his voice: "It ain’t him. And if it ain’t him, you can’t convict." 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. Some said she had referred to Kelly as her "godfather." In just 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. Adam also told jurors that even the alleged victim’s family members who testified for prosecutors could not have been sure it was really her. "Any solid man in that family, any solid woman in that family would have gone over there and broken his legs, would have gone over there and beat the crap out of him" if they believed she and Kelly were on the tape, Adam said. The family also would have gotten an order of protection against Kelly, but none of that happened, he said. But one prosecutor, Heilengoetter, had argued the alleged victim’s relatives were angry, citing testimony during which an aunt who was a one-time artistic collaborator with Kelly described how she introduced the singer to the alleged victim when the girl was around 12 or 13 years old. "You can imagine the betrayal that she felt toward the defendant," Heilengoetter said. "This person that she introduced to her 12-year-old niece…You could feel her outrage, couldn’t you?" ______ Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.