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 an appeal in his federal racketeering case.
U.S. District Judge Ann M. Donnelly ruled Tuesday that the R&B singer now has until Feb. 17 to formally fight 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 because he believed she was pregnant and thought the marriage would save him from jail.
The disgraced musician faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison when he’s sentenced in May.
In a filing ahead of the judge’s ruling, 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.”