'Braces' defense could have some teeth
If R. Kelly's mole defense doesn't set him free, the defense clearly hopes the alleged victim's braces can.

Shortly before the lunch break, the defense showed the jury a photo of the alleged victim with orthodontia gear in her mouth. A former family friend testified the victim, now 23, had braces in the late 1990s--about the same time authorities say the video was made.

Tjada Burnett, who worked with the alleged victim's mother and knew the alleged victim since she was 4, identified the girl in the video as her friend's daughter. She also testified that she recognized the male participant as Kelly, whom she had met on a few occasions.

The female participant, however, does not appear to be wearing braces in the video. Burnett testified the alleged victim wore braces at some point between 1997 and 1999, but she could not provide an exact date.

Still, she was adamant the female in the video was the alleged victim.

"It's her cheek, her nose, her facial structure," she said.

The missing-braces revelation comes a week after the defense showed the jury a police photograph of a dark mole on Kelly's back. The male participant in the video appears to have no such mole when the video is played in real time.

Stacy St. Clair

May 27, 2008 1:52 PM: R. Kelly trial: What did she hear, and when did she hear it?

As has been the case with just about all of the state's witnesses in the R. Kelly trial, the real action came during cross-examination.

In this case, it was another old friend of the alleged victim who was treated to a caustic cross-examination by defense attorney Sam Adam Jr.

Adam has made his presence known in the trial, giving a passionate opening statement and punishing witnesses with tough questions and charged accusations.

His cross-examination of Raven Gengler, a recent Loyola University graduate and former friend of the alleged victim, was no different.

Gengler, who went to junior high with the alleged victim and played on the same basketball teams with her then, testified that she recognized the alleged victim in the tape and also Robert Kelly from their faces and their voices.

While Gengler acknowledged she never saw the two act in an "inappropriate way," and that the alleged victim never told her about any sexual relationship with the singer, she was certain it was her friend and Kelly in the tape.

"I mean it was absolutely [the victim]. ... It was just her facial features, the expression on her face, you could vaguely kind of hear her voice even," she said under direct examination.

But Adam, after congratulating Gengler first on her graduation this month, had a problem with that.

"So when you went down to see [the investigators] you told [them] you recognized the voice, didn't you?" he asked.

"At that time, I don't believe I spoke about her voice," she said. "I can't recall, it was a long time ago."