R Kelly Could Get A ‘Life’ Imprisonment Sentence

(AP) — Superstar-turned-felon R Kelly wouldn’t be eligible for release until 2066, a year shy of his 100th birthday, if a federal judge accepts prosecutors’ recommendations at his sentencing hearing Thursday in his hometown of Chicago.

Kelly, 56, will be sentenced on his convictions from last year in Chicago of child pornography and enticement. He is already serving 30 years for his 2021 racketeering and sex trafficking convictions in New York.

The central question for Judge Harry Leinenweber is whether to order that Kelly serve a Chicago sentence simultaneously with the New York sentence or that he start serving his Chicago sentence only after he completes the New York term.

If the singer is ordered to serve the sentences one after the other, that would practically erase any chance of Kelly ever getting out of prison alive.

Here is a look at the potential sentences:


In a sentencing memo last week, they recommended Kelly serve 25 more years and that he serve it consecutively to the New York sentence.

Prosecutors described Kelly as “a serial sexual predator” who used his fame and wealth to reel in star-struck fans to sexually abuse and then discard them. They say he’s shown no remorse.

Jurors in Chicago convicted Kelly on three counts each of producing child porn and the enticement of minors for sex. Kelly was acquitted of the marquee count alleging he successfully rigged his 2008 state child pornography trial.

Prosecutors acknowledged a 25-year sentence would be higher than sentencing guidelines suggest and that a consecutive sentence would be tantamount to a life sentence.

But they argued Kelly’s “desire to sexually abuse children is insatiable” and such a sentence was required “to protect the community from” him.


Kelly’s lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, asked for a sentence of around 10 years — on the low end of the guideline range.

She also requested in a series of pre-sentence filings that, whatever prison sentence Leinenweber imposes, he allow Kelly to serve it at the same time as the New York sentence.

Bonjean said Kelly’s existing 30-year term alone means he won’t be eligible for release until he is around 80 and that a new consecutive sentence would be a “second life sentence.”

She said an extended sentence for Kelly, who is Black, would also be disproportionate given that, according to her, white rock stars have long gotten away with the behaviour for which Kelly was convicted.


By statute, the default for judges is to allow defendants to serve their sentences simultaneously — which courts call “concurrently” — which effectively means they serve only the longest sentence imposed.

But if they conclude a defendant’s crimes were particularly egregious, they can decide that the only way to deter such crimes is to order sentences be served one after the other.