R. Kelly unlikely to take stand in sex trafficking trial, lawyer says

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NEW YORK (AP) — R. Kelly is unlikely to take the witness stand at his sex-trafficking trial, a lawyer for the R&B singer told a judge Tuesday.

The remark by attorney Deveraux Cannick, made with the jury out the courtroom, came as the defense wound down its case at the trial in federal court in Brooklyn.

The potential spectacle of Kelly testifying has always been a long shot. U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly said Tuesday that the defendant still had time to change his mind before closing arguments, prompting him to nod his head.

R. Kelly’s defense team is expected to rest their case after calling two final witnesses on Wednesday morning. So far, the jury has heard from four defense witnesses, four men who were part of Kelly’s circle.

The defense opened their case Monday by calling Dhanai Ram, who told PIX11 News, “I didn’t see ‘Surviving R. Kelly,’ because I was here to see the real thing.”

On the witness stand, Ram testified he never saw Kelly abuse his girlfriends, but on cross-examination Ram stated he was never alone with R. Kelly and his alleged accusers.

Kelly, 54, has repeatedly denied accusations that behind the scenes of a 30-year career highlighted by his 1996 megahit “I Believe I Can Fly,” he was a sexual predator who groomed and exploited his young victims. His lawyers have portrayed the accusers as groupies seeking to take advantage of his fame.

On Tuesday, accountant John Holder was among the latest former Kelly associates to testify for the defense that they never saw him torment his alleged accusers. Holder described seeing Kelly carrying around a backpack full of cash — proceeds from concerts — to take the women and girls on shopping sprees.

On cross-examination, prosecutors displayed for jurors a piece of evidence suggesting Holder’s contributions were childlike: a flow chart of Kelly’s business depicting a red cartoon octopus.

Closing statements are expected to begin Wednesday afternoon and the jury may begin deliberations by Thursday.

Legal analyst Bernarda Villalona said she does not expect a quick verdict.

“It’s going to be tough for the jury to determine credibility, believability,” she said.

The jury of seven men and five women will consider federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges against the Grammy-winning singer. 

R. Kelly has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges filed against him.

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