*Prosecutors in R. Kelly's child pornography trial continued Thursday to provide witnesses that can positively identify the alleged victim at the center of the case.
The R&B singer, 41, is accused of videotaping himself having sex with a girl as young as 13. His attorneys claim that Kelly is not on the tape and the alleged victim, who is now 23, also denies that she is in the video.
Aubrey Hampton, 23, a former friend and classmate of the alleged victim, testified that she saw the sex tape at a friend's house after hearing about it through the grapevine at Oak Park-River Forest High School, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. She said at the time, her junior year, she recognized the girl as her friend.
She told the jury "there's no question" that the female on the tape is her childhood friend at age 13 or 14.
Hampton, a senior studying business marketing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said that her mother later found the tape in her daughter's bedroom and threw it away. But when Hampton saw the video again Thursday morning in the state's attorney's office, she said she was once again convinced it was her friend.
On cross-examination, Hampton told the court that her friend never once mentioned that she was having sex with Kelly, nor did she suspect that any such activity was taking place between them.
Hampton's mother, Mary Kay Jerit, an adoption worker with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, was asked on cross-examination why she didn't turn the tape over to authorities instead of throwing it away if she suspected it to be child porn. Jerit said that she inquired if the tape was under investigation but did not report it because she was not mandated to do so.
On Wednesday, an aunt and an uncle of the alleged victim also identified the female on the tape as their niece. As previously reported, Simha Jamison, 24, identified the alleged victim as her friend of 10 years. Jamison's father, Peter Thomas, testified that the alleged victim's involvement in the video was the talk of their neighborhood.
Thursday afternoon, the news for the Kelly side of the aisle got worse as his former protege, Stephanie “Sparkle” Edwards, took the stand and positively identified her then 13-year-old niece and Kelly in the infamous video that was shown to the jury.
Also, Edwards and the defense attorney got into it when he accused her of bribing Kelly. In a raised voice, Edwards replied, “Sweetie, I’m not trying to get money out of this.”
UPDATE: R. Kelly fan arrested inside courthouse ...
The Chicago tribune repors that an R. Kelly fan was arrested after screaming, “free R. Kelly!” near an elevator used by jurors yesterday.
Debra Triplett, 49, of Aurora, Illinois was taken into custody and hauled before the judge for a hearing. The mother of three and grandmother of six, was held in lieu of $50,000 bail for indirect contempt of court. She is to appear again late next month for another hearing before Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan, the Kelly case judge.
The Tribune points out that the law is very clear on speaking to sitting jurors about their case: Don't do it. But in this case, where the judge has gone to great pains to ensure the jury is not prejudiced in this high profile case of the R&B superstar, an errant fan risks imprisonment.