R&B star R. Kelly porn trial goes to Chicago jury

Thu Jun 12, 2008 6:52pm EDT
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By Nick Carey

CHICAGO (Reuters) - R&B star R. Kelly's child pornography trial went to the jury on Thursday with prosecutors calling him a sexual predator and his attorneys saying he is wrongly accused and possibly the victim of an extortion plot.

In closing arguments to the 12-person jury, Cook County Prosecutor Robert Heilingoetter said Kelly preyed on young girls and was clearly the man on a videotape exploiting a teenage protege as young as 13.

"The opportunity to hold him (Kelly) responsible ... will never come again," he told jurors.

Heilingoetter once more showed jurors the videotape at the heart of the case, which features oral sex, masturbation and other explicit acts.

Kelly is charged with 14 counts of videotaping, producing or soliciting child pornography. If convicted of all charges, the 41-year-old Grammy Award winner, whose given name is Robert Kelly, could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.

In three weeks of testimony, jurors were told the girl, now 23, has denied it was her on the tape, though she did not testify for either side.

Kelly has denied being the man on the tape, and his attorneys said the widely sold tape may have been doctored by the girl's relatives to extort money from him.

The absence of the girl, Roshona Landfair, has been seen as a potential weakness for the prosecution and the defense, but both claimed the high ground for not having her testify.   Continued...

<p>Recording artist R Kelly (C) walks out of Cook County Court after closing arguments in his trial in Chicago, Illinois June 12, 2008. REUTERS/Frank Polich</p>