CHICAGO — Lawyers for indicted singer R. Kelly filed a motion Friday seeking to question under oath a reputed gang member who said he violently attacked Kelly at the federal lockup in Chicago because he wanted to expose government corruption.
Jeremiah Shane Farmer, a convicted member of the Latin Kings, outed himself as Kelly’s attacker in a court filing earlier this week in Hammond, where he’s facing a mandatory life sentence for racketeering conspiracy involving a 1999 double murder.
Farmer, 39, claimed he attacked Kelly “in hopes of getting spotlight attention and world news notice to shed light on” wrongdoing by the government.
According to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons report attached to his filing, Farmer was able to slip away from an employee at the Metropolitan Correctional Center on Aug. 26, enter Kelly’s cell and beat him repeatedly in the head while Kelly was in the lower bunk. The attack stopped only after a jail security officer pepper-sprayed Farmer, the report states.
In the Friday court filing, Kelly’s attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber for an evidentiary hearing giving them and the judge the opportunity to question Farmer under oath about the alleged beating, “including, but not limited to the role that any MCC personnel played in that attack.”
“It appears that MCC personnel simply followed Mr. Farmer, allowed him to carry out the attack, and then only intervened after Mr. Kelly had already sustained serious injuries,” Kelly’s attorney Michael Leonard wrote.
In his handwritten motion filed Monday, Farmer claimed he committed the attack “due to the most blatant corruption in Farmer’s case and being (on) lockdown for Robert Kelly protest.”
Kelly’s lawyers have said that when the singer’s supporters previously demonstrated in front of the MCC, the facility went on lockdown — making Kelly’s fellow inmates angry at him.
The allegations are the latest twist in an ongoing effort to free Kelly on bond pending trial on sexual abuse-related charges. The Farmer incident was also mentioned during oral arguments Friday in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, where Kelly’s attorneys are trying to reverse the trial judge’s decision there that Kelly is a danger and should be locked up pending trial.
“Mr. Kelly was the victim of an unprovoked attack while incarcerated at the MCC because of who he is,” attorney Thomas Farinella argued. “It’s clear the Bureau of Prisons cannot adequately accommodate the need to keep him safe.”
Farmer, of Hammond, was convicted last year in the June 25, 1999, slayings of Marion Lowry, 74, and Harvey Siegers, 67, who were beaten with a small sledgehammer at their business, Calumet Auto Rebuilders. He’s facing a mandatory life sentence and is housed at the MCC in Chicago while his appeal is pending.
Court records show Farmer, who is representing himself, has a history of mental issues. In 2017, prosecutors requested that Farmer undergo a psychiatric or psychological examination after he made filings on his own behalf and discussed “suffering from a variety of mental illnesses,” according to a motion.
Farmer was later found competent to stand trial, however, according to court records.
The indictment against Farmer alleged that sometime between 1999 and 2001, he “tattooed his own face with two teardrops, to commemorate having killed” Lowry and Siegers. A recent mug shot shows Farmer’s face festooned with tattoos, including teardrops, crowns and other gang insignia.
In a motion earlier this week, Kelly’s attorneys said Farmer has since gotten a new face tattoo that reads “f --- the feds.” They said he was able to enter Kelly’s cell while the singer was sleeping and stomped on his head repeatedly.
The general population is not safe for Kelly, his attorneys argue, and there is little chance he will go to trial anytime soon because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During arguments in New York on Friday, the three-judge appellate panel sounded skeptical that Kelly deserved bond, given the seriousness of the charges.
“It seems to be a blunderbuss approach to just release him,” one judge said. “If we didn’t have coronavirus, I don’t think you’d be here.”
Kelly, 53, faces two federal indictments in two states on charges related to sexual abuse. He has been held without bond since his arrest in July 2019.
Federal prosecutors in Chicago accuse him of conspiring to rig his 2008 child pornography trial in Cook County by paying off witnesses and victims to change their stories. The indictment also alleged Kelly and his co-defendants paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to recover child sex tapes before they fell into the hands of prosecutors.
The longtime R&B superstar faces racketeering conspiracy charges in U.S. District Court in New York alleging he identified underage girls attending his concerts and groomed them for sexual abuse.
Kelly’s attorneys have repeatedly argued for his release on bond and have been repeatedly rejected. Even if a judge in Chicago granted the most recent request, Kelly has also been ordered held without bond on the charges in New York, so he would still remain in custody pending the appeal before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Kelly also faces charges of sexual abuse and sexual assault in Cook County, and charges in Minnesota related to solicitation.
He has denied all the accusations against him.
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