CHICAGO (TCA/DPA) - R Kelly now has a trial date, at least a tentative one.
A federal judge in Chicago on Wednesday (Sept 4) set April 27 as the kick-off for the embattled R&B singer's trial on charges he sexually abused minors and conspired with two associates to pay off and intimidate witnesses against him.
In setting the date, however, US District Judge Harry Leinenweber acknowledged that it could be moved, pending the status of Kelly's three other criminal cases and the status of any pretrial motions that need to be argued before a jury can be selected.
Prosecutors estimated the trial would last about three weeks.
Kelly's attorneys objected to the setting of a trial date, telling the judge during a brief hearing they've just begun reviewing boxes of materials and dozens of discs containing electronic evidence turned over by prosecutors last month.
Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, is also facing federal racketeering charges brought in New York in July, four separate indictments alleging the sexual abuse of girls and women filed in Cook County in February, and additional sex charges brought in Minnesota last month.
"We have limited resources, and Mr Kelly has been charged in multiple jurisdictions, which is rather unprecedented," his lead attorney, Steve Greenberg, told the judge, adding that one disc turned over by New York prosecutors contained at least "9,000 subfolders."
Trial dates for the other three cases have not been set.
Dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit, Kelly, who is being held without bond, stood with his hands clasped behind his back and did not speak during the 15-minute hearing in Leinenweber's packed 17th-floor courtroom.
After weeks of griping about the circumstances of his incarceration, Kelly was moved Tuesday to the general population of the Metropolitan Correctional Centre in Chicago, where he had been held in the Special Housing Unit away from most other prisoners.
Defence attorney Michael Leonard, who also represents Kelly, told reporters in the lobby of the Dirksen US Courthouse that Kelly seemed to be in much better spirits.
"If you saw Robert today, he looks probably the best he's looked since this ordeal began," Leonard said. "When you're in solitary confinement... it takes a huge psychological toll on you. You can see kind of an unburdening of his spirit now that he's in general population."
Leonard also said Kelly has not had any issues with other inmates so far, and he isn't expecting him to.
"He's an extremely amiable guy," Leonard said.
Also Wednesday, Leinenweber set a hearing for Sept 18 for a motion filed by Kelly's team asking him to reconsider bond for the singer.
Greenberg said Kelly's two girlfriends who had been living with him at the Trump Tower, Joycelyn Savage and Azriel Clary, are currently trying to secure a new home and have agreed to be custodians for Kelly if he is indeed released.
The chances of that are clearly remote, however. Leinenweber ruled in July that Kelly was a flight risk and a danger to the community, and even if he were to change his mind, the judge overseeing Kelly's case in New York has also ordered him held no-bail.
Savage and Clary are also potential witnesses in the case.
Kelly, 52, was accused in a 13-count federal indictment brought in Chicago of conspiring with two former employees to rig his 2008 child pornography trial in Cook County by paying off witnesses and victims to change their stories.
The indictment also alleged Kelly, former manager Derrel McDavid and onetime employee Milton "June" Brown paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to recover child sex tapes before they fell into the hands of prosecutors.
In New York, Kelly alone was indicted on a charge of racketeering conspiracy, alleging Kelly identified underage girls attending his concerts and groomed them for later sexual abuse.
Kelly is also charged in four separate indictments in Cook County alleging he sexually assaulted one woman and sexually abused three minor girls.