R. Kelly, hoping for a favorable verdict in his upcoming Chicago federal trial, fired his original legal team on Wednesday (Feb. 16) and officially hired the lawyer who successfully appealed Bill Cosby’s conviction.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the R&B singer, who in September was convicted on sex crime and racketeering charges in federal court in New York, told U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber in a telephone conference call that he wants Jennifer Bonjean to represent him in the jury trial that’s scheduled for August. Meanwhile, he awaits sentencing for his New York conviction.
His decision to change legal teams may have been in the works for a few months. Bonjean reportedly appeared in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn on Oct. 29 to register and push for a new trial.
Bonjean is the attorney behind Cosby’s stunning release from prison. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his sexual assault conviction on June 30 after finding that a "non-prosecution agreement" had been made with a previous prosecutor on the case, which should have prevented him from ever being charged in the first place.
Kelly, 55, faces 10 years to life in the New York case. He was found guilty on Sept. 27 of 12 individual illegal acts, including sex with multiple underage girls and bribing an Illinois public aid official to obtain a fake ID to marry the then 15-year-old singer Aaliyah. Prosecutors argued that the disgraced singer leveraged his music career to operate a racketeering criminal enterprise.
In Chicago, Kelly will stand trial on child pornography and obstruction of justice charges. He was also indicted of sexual abuse in state court in Chicago and a child prostitution charge in Minnesota.