Singer R. Kelly is launching a new bid for freedom based on the coronavirus outbreak, telling a federal judge he plans to live with girlfriend Joycelyn Savage in the South Loop if he gets out of jail.
However, other requests for release based on the virus have found little success so far in Chicago’s federal court. No confirmed cases have surfaced yet at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where Kelly is being held. And Kelly faces the daunting task of persuading two judges — one in Chicago and one in Brooklyn — that he should walk free.
In fact, Kelly’s lawyers wrote in their 18-page motion filed in Chicago Thursday that they’d prefer the judge in Brooklyn rule first, to make sure Kelly did not just wind up “in the same unhealthy conditions, just in New York.”
Kelly’s lawyers wrote that Kelly “is within the group of people the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) has categorized as most-at-risk for contracting COVID-19, a dangerous illness spreading rapidly across the world.”
“From Mr. Kelly’s perspective his life — not only his liberty — is on the line,” attorney Steve Greenberg wrote in the motion.
If Kelly were released, he would live in a large apartment complex near Clark and Roosevelt and “would reside with Joycelyn Savage,” one of Kelly’s girlfriends, according to the motion.
Federal judges in Chicago have so far not been inclined to release defendants from the MCC over coronavirus concerns, alone. Following one such request made in a separate case Thursday, U.S. District Judge Robert Dow wrote that he’d been notified by the U.S. Marshals that “there have been no incidences of COVID-19 infection in the MCC to date and that the MCC has essentially been on lockdown since March 13.”
U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber presides over Kelly’s case in Chicago. The singer has been facing federal indictments in Chicago and Brooklyn since last summer, in addition to earlier local charges in Cook County and more recent charges in Minnesota. The federal case in Chicago alleges child pornography and obstruction of justice, while the feds in Brooklyn have alleged racketeering.
Previous requests by Kelly for release have been rebuffed by judges in both federal cases.
For now, Kelly is set to go to trial in Brooklyn on July 7, and his federal trial in Chicago is set for Oct. 13. But it’s unclear if either trial will start on schedule, given the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn also filed a revised indictment against Kelly just two weeks ago, which further threatens to upset Kelly’s trial schedule. His arraignment on that indictment — expected to occur by video — is not scheduled until April 30 due to concerns about the virus.