R. Kelly Jury Selection Begins

Defense attorneys for R. Kelly have argued that the publicity surrounding the superstar's trial has rendered an entire jury pool irrevocably tainted. However, this morning the judge and attorneys for both sides attempted to find 16 suitable jurors (including four alternates) to decide the guilt or innocence of one of the biggest superstar's in R&B. From a pool of 150 potential jurors, the lawyers and judge began fielding questions to determine who would sit in the jury box.

The 40-year-old R&B singer was indicted on child pornography charges in June 2002 for allegations he had videotaped himself having sex with an underage girl. The girl in question, now in her early twenties, says it's not her on the tape.

According to the Chicago Tribune, "Kelly remained pokerfaced, appearing at times to scan their faces and occasionally leaning over to speak with his lawyers," sitting across from several potential jurors during the selection proceedings.

"Whatever answer you give is a good one...you just have to be candid," Cook County Circuit Judge Vincent Gaughan advised the would-be jurors as they waited to be questioned by the lawyers.

When the judge asked them if any of them had read or heard anything about the case since the trial's beginning on Friday, one woman raised her hand and said she'd walked by a TV and heard a report on Kelly.

"That's going to happen...we don't live in a cave," Gaughan said. He went on to acknowledge the publicity the case has gotten. "As you know, this is a high-profile case. And if you don't know, God love you. You're probably the only person on earth that doesn't."

Exactly who makes it into that jury box will be key for both prosecutors and defense attorneys, said Steve Cron, a defense lawyer from Santa Monica, Calif., who has practiced for 35 years.

"In a case where a celebrity has good and bad public images, it's critical," said Cron, who has no link to the Kelly case.

He said the defense probably won't get many R. Kelly fans past the prosecution, and the prosecution may also be seeking out well educated jurors which may help if they call technical experts.

"If someone's not that sophisticated, they may not accept evidence coming from guys with Ph.D.s, thinking, 'Why should I listen to them telling me what I should think," Cron said.

Though the defense said it's impossible to find an untainted jury -- citing a front-page story in Friday's Sun Times about a witness who will testify to having a threesome with Kells and the mystery girl from the video tape -- Cron said an impartial jury can be assembled

"They got a jury for the Michael Jackson and O.J. Simpson trials," Cron said. "They'll find one for this trial, too."

Selecting a jury should take about a week, and the trial itself could take several weeks. If convicted, Kells could face up to 15 years in prison.

Kells' new album is due in July.