EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Age Ain't Nothing But A Number, Take 5: Why The Jurors Found R. Kelly Not Guilty

In the end, according to the Chicago Tribune, the jury acquitted R. Kelly not because they thought that the videotape was a fake, not because of the appearing/disappearing mole on the back of the man in the video, and not because of defense counsel's claim that R. Kelly's head may have been superimposed on another man's body a la the Wayans' Brothers movie, "Little Man."  Instead, the jury acquitted the R&B superstar based upon the simple fact that, like prosecution witnesses in the case, they were divided on the issue of whether the girl in the tape was in fact Kelly's then 13 year-old goddaughter.  According to the Trib article, "[m]ost jurors said they discounted all of the testimony from members of the alleged victim's family. Two aunts, an uncle and a cousin of the girl testified for the state that their relative was in the video. An aunt, uncle and a cousin testified for the defense that she was not."  According to one juror, "The family was divided. We couldn't go by that."  Instead, the jurors likely needed testimony by the alleged victim.

As I noted in my first post on the case back in November, such testimony was not to be.  As I noted back then:

     "A significant obstacle faced by the Illinois prosecutors is that the girl they claim is in the video, who is now in her early 20s, claims and has provided grand jury testimony that she is not the girl in the tape.  Prosecutors sought to rebut this denial through the testimony of Sharon Cooper, a developmental and forensic pediatrician, who was to testify that the girls' denial is behavior typical of victims of child pornography

     Now, if the alleged victim claimed that she was the girl in the video, Cooper could have testified that her behavior and symptoms were consistent with the behavior and symptoms of sexually abused children, and she has done so in several cases.  See, e.g. State v. Hess, 632 S.E.2d599 (N.C.App. 2006).  The problem in this case, however, is that the alleged victim is claiming she was not in fact the victim in the video, and the judge thus found that Cooper's testimony was inadmissible because it would have constituted an improper comment on the alleged victim's grand jury testimony."

While many evidentiary rulings and interesting twists in the case followed, it appears that the prosecution's fate was thus sealed last November.



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I note that the nattering nabobs on cable TV are writing this off as 'celebrity justice'. The only advantage that celebrities have is enough money to hire enough lawyers to show how shabby the case is and how little evidence the prosecution has to offer. The average citizen can't match the $11 million that, for example, the state admits spending to convict Scott Peterson. What is the total now I wonder for O J Simpson, Robert Blake, Phil Spector and R Kelly? Good value for money? Are we protected by such spending?

Posted by: A Voice of Sanity | Jun 17, 2008 6:38:36 PM

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