R. Kelly’s former tour manager, Demetrius Smith, 65, took the stand and reluctantly testified about the disgraced singer’s marriage to Aaliyah.
On Friday, Smith told jurors what he knew about Kelly and the late singer. Throughout his testimony, he told U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly that he “didn’t want to be here, period.”
R. Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, is attending his trial in New York. CNN reported that he has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of racketeering and violating the Mann Act, an anti-sex trafficking law.
Prosecutors ordered the former tour manager to testify and reiterated that he would not be legally punished for anything he testified about.
Eventually, Smith testified after multiple protests with his attorneys by his side.
He often paused to speak with his attorney or refresh his memory while reading his grand jury testimony. He also admitted that he was there the day Kelly met Aaliyah. He told jurors that he became concerned about their relationship.
Smith also admitted that he and other members of Kelly’s circle helped Kelly, who was at the time 27-years-old marry Aaliyah, who was only 15.
Kelly’s legal team argued that his relationships were consensual. Kelly continues to deny all allegations.
Smith also recanted the day Kelly met the late singer at her family’s home in Detroit in 1992. Kelly played the piano as Aaliyah sang. “She had something special,” Smith recalled Kelly saying about Aaliyah.
During Aaliyah’s making of her first album, “Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number,” which Kelly wrote songs for and produced, the two grew close, Smith added.
He also said that Kelly would spend time with her alone at his apartment. However, he insisted, “Whatever Robert did with Aaliyah was all about music.”
But he did, however, say that at times he felt the two were “two friendly,” “playful,” and said at one point he asked Kelly if he was “messin” with the teen.
“Aaliyah was young. I didn’t want people to have the wrong vision of things.”
In August 1994, Kelly was on tour. When he was about to walk on stage, he allegedly told Smith, “Aaliyah is in trouble, man.”
On their way back to Chicago, Smith said he found out what happened; Aaliyah thought she was pregnant, and Kelly was scared he would go to jail for it. That’s when Smith testified that he helped her obtain an official state ID by bribing a worker at the welfare office. The ID did not show her date of birth.
“I made her (the worker) an offer, and she took the money,” Smith testified. “I gave her $500.”
From there, Smith and other workers in Kelly’s circle went with the two to a Chicago-area city hall where Aaliyah and Kelly applied for a marriage license.
Documents show at the time the application was submitted, Aaliyah’s age was listed as 18. The two married in a Sheraton hotel suite, but it was annulled the following year after the late singer’s family found out about it.