R. Kelly could spend second summer on trial if federal case in Chicago goes forward

The singer’s racketeering conviction last month in Brooklyn immediately raised the question of what might become of the case still waiting for him in Chicago’s federal court.

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In this June 30, 2013, file photo, R. Kelly performs at the BET Awards in Los Angeles.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber on Wednesday set an Aug. 1, 2022, trial date for R. Kelly on charges of child pornography and obstruction of justice.

AP file

R&B singer R. Kelly could face a second consecutive summer in front of a jury if he does not find another way to resolve his federal criminal case in Chicago.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber set an Aug. 1, 2022, trial date for Kelly’s case here during a status hearing Wednesday morning, held more than three weeks after a jury convicted Kelly in a separate racketeering case in Brooklyn’s federal court.

The trial date in Chicago, if it stands, would come almost exactly one year after the start of Kelly’s Brooklyn trial, where jury selection began Aug. 9. The Chicago trial could last three or four weeks, lawyers said.

Defense attorney Steve Greenberg told the judge Wednesday that Kelly had been placed on suicide watch after his conviction in Brooklyn. Greenberg also said he plans to still represent Kelly here, even though the singer decided to move forward with different lawyers in his Brooklyn trial.

Greenberg said Kelly might be planning yet another shake-up of his Brooklyn legal team.

Though Kelly was expected to participate in Wednesday’s hearing, which was held by video, technical issues prevented the judge from hearing from the singer.

Kelly’s conviction last month in Brooklyn immediately raised the question of what might become of the case still waiting for him in Chicago’s federal court, where he is charged with child pornography and obstruction of justice. 

Already, Kelly’s roughly five-week trial featuring 45 government witnesses in Brooklyn ended with the 54-year-old singer facing 10 years to life in prison. His sentencing there is set for May 4. 

R. Kelly Brooklyn Trial
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Complicating matters in Chicago are his two co-defendants, former employees Derrel McDavid and Milton “June” Brown. McDavid’s lawyers have complained about being “at the mercy of Mr. Kelly’s problems” and insist they want to swiftly go to trial. They repeated the complaint Wednesday.

Then there’s separate aggravated criminal sexual abuse charges from state-court prosecutors in Cook County, as well as an additional criminal case in Minnesota.

Greenberg previously said the Brooklyn verdict would be key to how the Chicago case moves forward. His co-counsel, Michael Leonard, has said it would make the most sense to wait until after Kelly is sentenced in Brooklyn to move forward with the Chicago case. 

For now, Kelly remains locked up in a Brooklyn detention center.

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