R. Kelly Contracts Covid-19 in Jail, Wins Two-Week Extension to File Appeal
R. Kelly caught Covid-19 in a federal jail in Brooklyn, and the recent diagnosis led a judge to grant him a two-week extension Tuesday on his deadline to file appeal paperwork in his federal racketeering case.
U.S. District Judge Ann M. Donnelly ruled the R&B singer now has until Feb. 17 to formally begin fighting his September conviction on charges he had sex with underage girls and bribed a state employee to create a phony ID card so he could marry the 15-year-old singer Aaliyah.
In a filing ahead of the judge’s decision, Kelly’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjean wrote that the singer’s Covid diagnosis “interfered with his ability to speak with counsel by telephone” to review his post-trial paperwork.
Bonjean is the same lawyer who last year helped Bill Cosby overturn his 2018 sex assault conviction in Pennsylvania, leading to the comedian’s release from prison.
“It is vitally important that Mr. Kelly meaningfully participate in his post-trial defense,” Bonjean wrote in her letter to the court filed Tuesday. “The (jail) has not indicated when visits will resume which is less than ideal, but undersigned counsel is confident that she can accomplish necessary discussions with Mr. Kelly via upcoming scheduled Zoom visits.”
In a Twitter post Tuesday, Bonjean said her client was faring “well” following his infection.
“Understandably, many people are concerned about Mr. Kelly’s health and well-being (as am I). Mr. Kelly is doing well, but there is no question that MDC’s COVID policies are putting all inmates in harm’s way,” she wrote.
At Kelly’s trial, jurors heard that he sought the illegal marriage with Aaliyah because he believed she was pregnant. He thought the legal union would save him from jail.
The disgraced musician faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years when he’s sentenced in May. The maximum is life in prison.
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