The former best friend of the alleged victim in the R. Kelly child pornography case testified Wednesday that she recognized the singer and the girl on the sex tape shown in court and that she spent time with them at various locations, including his home.
When asked by Assistant State's Atty. Shauna Boliker what her initial impressions were after viewing the tape, Simha Jamison said, "I thought she looked like my best friend ..."
She said the man on the tape is R. Kelly.
Jamison, who is now 24, said she and the girl were inseparable since the summer before 4th grade. She said when they were about 13 or 14, they got matching mullet haircuts, a hairdo Jamison said she recognized on the tape. The hairstyle and the face of the girl in the video convinced her that it was her former best friend on the tape, she said.
"I kind of know her like the back of my hand," Jamison said, when asked by Boliker how she could identify the girl. "Mainly because of the haircut that she has."
The woman went on to tell the court that she hung out with the girl and Kelly several times at a local gym, a studio and at his home. She said that sometimes they would be accompanied by her parents; other times they would take the train or "bum a ride."
She said she and the girl would hang out in the studio and "sit and talk" while Kelly recorded music. If it was a weeknight, the pair would leave the studio together. But some weekends, Jamison said the girl would stay by herself.
Jamison said the girl introduced Kelly to her and that she witnessed the singer regularly give the girl money, ranging from $100 to $500. The girls would then take the cash and go shopping, she testified. Jamison also said that the girl got a brand-new black Chrysler PT Cruiser the summer before her sophomore year.
The two woman are not friends anymore, Jamison said. They last spoke six years ago in passing after an encounter in a downtown store.
The defense was expected to cross-examine Jamison after the lunch break.
Azam Ahmed and Kayce T. Ataiyero
May 21, 2008 5:24 AM: A more engaged R. Kelly appears
We return this morning for the second day of testimony in the R. Kelly case. While the illicit video tape and dramatic opening statements made headlines Tuesday, one little noted development was the emergence of a more engaged R&B superstar.
During jury selection last week, Kelly often seemed bored or struggling to stay awake. He often scribbled on Post-it Notes and bobbed his head, as if writing lyrics to music only he could hear.
On Tuesday, however, an uber-serious defendant sat at the defense table and seemed to hang on every word during both opening statements and legal motions argued outside the jury's presence. He nodded his head as attorney Sam Adam Jr. outlined a vigorous defense, and he even conferred with his defense team on a few occasions.
When the sex tape was screened for the jury, he fittingly looked appalled by the images on courtroom monitors. At one point, he covered his mouth with his hand as if signaling his disgust.
Sporting a pin-striped suit and his trademark braids, the singer arrived at the courthouse with an entourage three times larger than the one that accompanied him to jury selection. His estranged wife, Andrea, has not attended any proceedings with him so far. The couple, who have three children, are currently divorcing. Kelly is not wearing a wedding ring in court, though he has on a platinum band in pictures taken by the Chicago Police Department after his 2002 arrest.
Stacy St. Clair
May 20, 2008 5:35 PM: First day of testimony ends
The R. Kelly trial concluded its first day of testimony this afternoon with the defense showing nearly four dozen pictures of scars and birthmarks on the singer's body.
The photographs--which were taken by the Chicago Police Department after Kelly's 2002 arrest--are meant to underscore the defense team's assertion that the R&B superstar is not the man in the videotape.
When the tape was played in real time for the jury Tuesday, no marks were evident on the male participant's body.
Chicago police investigator Dan Everett testified he received the video from a Chicago Sun-Times music critic in February 2002. He acknowledged that he did not know where the video originally came from or how many times it had been copied before he took custody.
Upon viewing the tape, Everett said he recognized the female on the tape because he had interviewed her as part of another investigation in 2000. He said he then spoke with several of her friends and relatives to help identify the video participants, but he was not permitted to share details of those conversations with the jury.
During grand jury appearances in 2002, the alleged victim and her parents both denied she was the female in the tape, while several of her classmates and family members said otherwise.
Court resumes Wednesday.
Stacy St. Clair
May 20, 2008 3:26 PM: Jurors view the videotape at center of case
As the court prepared for the first public--and legal--viewing of the videotape at heart of the R. Kelly child pornography trial, Assistant State's Atty. Robert Heilingoetter asked that the lights be dimmed and the blinds drawn.
The tape was then played for the jury on a 6-foot projection screen; it was also shown on a smaller flat-screen TV facing the gallery and at counsel's tables.
The tape begins with a man handing a young female money. A commercial for a home refinancing loan company can be heard in the background. The two engage in various sex acts in a room with a bearskin rug. At his instruction, the female dances for him as "Everybody" by the Backstreet Boys plays in the background.
At times, the man can be heard telling the female to "dance faster, baby." Several times, she refers to him as "daddy." They have pillow talk throughout the tape; background sounds change from "Too Much" by the Spice Girls to an ambient hum from an appliance that could be an air conditioner.
At the end of the encounter, the man puts more money down for the young female.
As the tape played, some jurors took notes while others fidgeted in their seats. Kelly watched intently, at times resting his chin in his palm. A couple of times he seemed to shake his head as he leaned in to talk to his attorney.
Before the tape was played the state called its first witness, former Chicago police investigator Dan Everett, who testified that he first obtained the tape in February 2002 from a Sun-Times reporter. Everett, a nearly 30-veteran who said that he spent a good deal of his career investigating child sex abuse, said he watched the 27-minute tape with his partner and that it appeared to be a "very sexually explicit" recording of a man having sex with an underage girl.
After the tape was screened, the investigator indicated to the state that he had seen the alleged victim before. He said he had been a part of an alleged investigation interview dating back to December 2000, at which point Judge Vincent Gaughan immediately stopped his testimony and asked the jury to leave.
Gaughan then erupted over the use of the word "investigation," having previously issued an order forbidding its use. Gaughan chastised the witness and the prosecution, reminding them that he had promised to grant a mistrial if that word were uttered during testimony.
"If they do it again, I certainly am going to grant a mistrial," Gaughan said. The issue was settled by the witness going on the record saying he was mistaken when characterizing the interview as an investigation. The jury was let back in.
Kayce T. Ataiyero and Azam Ahmed