At the end of his first day and a half of testifying in his own defense, the former business manager of R. Kelly had shared a lot of information with a federal jury that seemed useful not only for himself, but also for his former boss. .
Derrel McDavid mocked key prosecution witnesses. He insisted he believed the video at the center of Kelly’s 2008 trial was fake. And he choked up when he recalled how the jurors in that 2008 trial acquitted Kelly – reaching what McDavid then thought was the right decision.
Then McDavid turned around. He said he “learned a lot” from Kelly’s retrial in Chicago federal court, now in its fourth week. He said he had never seen any incriminating videos that a new jury had seen. And he said he had never heard before some of the testimonies that they had heard.
“As I stand here today,” McDavid told jurors, “I’m embarrassed.”
He then began to struggle with his emotions again, telling his lawyer, Beau Brindley, that he wanted to believe Kelly in the early 2000s because “I love him and I believed in him. He was a genius.”
That’s when Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, cut him off, objecting to McDavid’s “drama.” McDavid took off his glasses, wiped away his tears, and said, “It’s not theater, ma’am.”
Yet it was the dramatic climax to the marathon testimony of McDavid, now a co-defendant of Kelly, who, along with the singer, is accused of unlawfully attempting to thwart Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial.
Absent from McDavid’s testimony, there was additional context involving the late singer Aaliyah Haughton, whom Kelly married in 1994 when she was 15 and he was 27. Although McDavid insisted he had no reason in the 2000s to believe Kelly sexually abused underage girls, testimony in last year’s New York trial showed McDavid was involved in bribing an employee of the ‘office of welfare” to get Aaliyah a fake ID so Kelly can marry her.
Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001.
Prosecutors argued early Thursday that the door to testifying about Aaliyah “was thrown wide open” by McDavid’s testimony. U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber ruled they could not enter it, finding it too detrimental to Kelly.
Prosecutors are expected to cross-examine McDavid on Friday.
In this lawsuit, Kelly faces charges of child pornography, obstruction of justice and incitement of minors to criminal sexual activity. He is already serving a 30-year prison sentence after his conviction in New York.
Before telling jurors he was “embarrassed” by what he learned during the ongoing trial in Chicago, McDavid recalled the preparations and proceedings around Kelly’s 2008 trial. He also pitched a trumpeted theory by Kelly’s defense attorneys in 2008.
McDavid said Kelly’s then-criminal defense attorney, Ed Genson, showed him enhanced clips of central video from the 2008 trial, which allegedly depicted Kelly sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl. This tape is also at issue in Kelly’s current lawsuit.
Kelly has a distinctive mole on her back, McDavid told jurors. But on the video Genson showed him, McDavid said the mole “jumped everywhere.” McDavid said it “totally convinced” him the video was fake.
McDavid said Lisa Van Allen, a former girlfriend of Kelly’s and longtime accuser who testified in the current trial, was caught in the act of “lie after lie after lie” when she testified in 2008. McDavid denied telling her she should have been killed, as she alleged.
McDavid said another key witness in the ongoing trial, Charles Freeman, threatened to call a press conference during the 2008 trial unless he received $100,000. McDavid said that at one point he told Freeman “he was a rotten piece of shit–“.
He also noted that the woman who allegedly appeared in the 2008 trial video, known to the current jury as “Jane”, has for years denied being sexually assaulted by Kelly. She testified last month for the first time that video from the 2008 trial showed Kelly sexually abusing her.
McDavid told the jury he had never heard Jane make such a claim in the years Kelly was facing lawsuits in the 2000s. He said he had not seen two additional videos, viewed by the current jury, which also portray Kelly’s abuse of Jane. And he said he hadn’t heard the stories of three other alleged victims who testified, referred to in court as “Pauline”, “Tracy” and “Nia”.
McDavid said he “learned a lot”.
“Before this trial, all I knew was what I knew then,” McDavid said.