A New York judge has shot down R. Kelly’s bid for an early prison release amid coronavirus concerns.
R. Kelly is due to stand trial for sex charges in both the Big Apple and Illinois, and he has been sitting behind bars at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Chicago while waiting to face the counts in court.
His attorney, Steven Greenberg, filed motions in both states last month (Mar20) seeking to have his client freed on bail, claiming he’s at risk of contracting COVID-19 after undergoing hernia surgery in January.
To secure his release, Greenberg would have needed the approval of officials in both territories, but on Tuesday, Brooklyn federal judge Ann Donnelly dismissed Kelly’s appeal, according to the New York Post’s Page Six.
“While I am sympathetic to the defendant’s understandable anxiety about COVID-19, he has not established compelling reasons warranting his release,” Donnelly wrote in her ruling, noting there had been no reported cases of COVID-19 among the MCC inmates.
She also questioned Greenberg’s concerns about 53-year-old Kelly falling into the “higher risk” category if he contracts the coronavirus: “Although the defendant has had a surgery during his incarceration, he does not explain how his surgical history places him at a higher risk of severe illness,” the judge continued in the documents.
“Moreover, officials in Chicago have advised the government that doctors have completed all treatment for the defendant’s recent operation.”
And Donnelly, who casts doubt on the New York trial going ahead as scheduled in early July if the global pandemic continues, insists the shamed musician remains a flight risk.
“(Kelly) is currently in custody because of the risks that he will flee or attempt to obstruct, threaten or intimidate prospective witnesses,” she added. “The defendant has not explained how those risks have changed.”
A ruling in Greenberg’s other motion, filed with Chicago federal judge Harry Leinenweber, has yet to be made.
Kelly had been hoping to be released from the detention centre to live with his girlfriend Joycelyn Savage in her Chicago apartment while awaiting trial.