A little more than a week after a federal judge in New York denied his bid for release, R&B singer R. Kelly is again asking that judge to let him out of Chicago’s federal jail, where the coronavirus now appears to be spreading.
Though the Federal Bureau of Prisons has officially confirmed only one case of coronavirus among the inmates at Chicago’s Metropolitan Correctional Center, the head of Chicago’s federal defender program and other local defense attorneys say the number has risen to six.
Kelly’s new motion cites the same number, and it alleges the MCC “has not even engaged in any systematic testing of its detainees — unless and until they have exhibited symptoms of the virus — despite the well-known close and crowded conditions at that facility.”
The 53-year-old singer is the MCC’s most high-profile inmate. He’s been held there since his arrest last summer, while facing indictments in Chicago and Brooklyn. Judges in both court districts have rebuffed previous requests for release from Kelly.
Just last week, U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly in Brooklyn denied Kelly’s most recent request, made before the virus had been confirmed in any inmate at the MCC. She wrote April 7 that Kelly, “is currently in custody because of the risks that he will flee or attempt to obstruct, threaten or intimidate prospective witnesses. The defendant has not explained how those risks have changed.”
The federal case in Chicago alleges child pornography and obstruction of justice, while the feds in Brooklyn have alleged racketeering. During a telephonic status hearing Thursday, Kelly’s Brooklyn trial was rescheduled for Sept. 29, and his attorneys said they’d prefer to go to trial there first. Kelly’s federal trial in Chicago is set for Oct. 13.