The prosecution rested its case in the trial against R. Kelly on Monday as they presented more than 40 witnesses in total. Now, Kelly’s legal team has brought forth two witnesses to testify in favor of the disgraced singer.
As the prosecution rested its case, Kelly’s legal team prepared their defense saying they would call in three new witnesses. According to Rolling Stone, the singer’s legal team noted that their third witness was not in town and the team was still in the process of “diligently searching for funds” to bring them to New York.
Kelly’s team called in two defense witnesses on Monday who both said they have known the singer for more than two decades and claim they had never seen him commit the abuse he’s accused of.
The first witness was Dhanai Ramnanan, who goes by Da-Ni. Ramnanan first met Kelly at a mall in Albuquerque in the mid-2000s and had worked with the singer on-and-off for more than 15 years. In response to questioning, Ramnanan said Kelly “opened doors for women” and “stood up for [them] when they entered the room.” Ramnanan also claimed that when Kelly’s girlfriends went out to restaurants in large groups, the women would “get to sit down first, order first, eat first,” a situation he likened to “chivalry, basically.”
The next witness testifying the defense brought forth was Larry Hood, a childhood friend and member of the Chicago Police Department who provided security for Kelly. Hood worked as Kelly’s security in the first half of the 1990s and was present when Kelly first met Aaliyah in Detroit. Hood also worked for Kelly from 2002 to 2004, at which point he was informed that Kelly could not afford to keep him on the payroll.
Hood claimed that he never witnessed Kelly misbehaving with underage girls and denied seeing Kelly lock anyone in a room. He told a defense attorney that his job as a police officer would compel him to act if he had seen anything abusive take place.
Rolling Stone described Ramnanan as speaking in the “vague generalities favored by musicians.” The outlet noted several inconsistinceies in Ramnanan’s testimony -- claiming he met Kelly at the mall, but couldn’t remember the year; touring with Kelly, but not remembering the names of the tours; working with Kelly in the studio, but never having the music come out.
The prosecution had a “relatively easy” time poking holes in Ramnanan’s testimony, according to Rolling Stone. The prosecution worked to show that Ramnanan’s desire for commercial success made him dependent on currying R. Kelly’s favor for years. “Did you want to stay on his good side?” The prosecution asked repeatedly.
As for Hood, Rolling Stone notes that the cross-examination “moved more swiftly.” Much of it hinged on the prosecution’s revelation that Hood had a felony forgery conviction. In testimony, Hood claimed that he was unaware that he was using counterfeit $100 bills in 2007 when charges were brought against him.
The prosecution pointed out the inconsistencies in Hood’s testimony, specifically, his guilty plea to the felony charge even though he had just testified that he did not know the money was fake.