Official June 2 2005 Thread: Closing Statements


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Can hardly wait for the closing statements from Mesereau? I wish Mesereau will do a fine job as he did with the opening statements.

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Jackson Described as Nervous as Trial Nears End


SANTA MARIA, Calif., June 1 - Michael Jackson is nervous and upset as the end of his trial on child molesting charges grows near, a spokeswoman said after a tense afternoon in court during which the judge spelled out the felony accusations against Mr. Jackson and instructed the jury on how to weigh them.

"He listened to the charges against him and it made him a little upset, and that's natural," said the spokeswoman, Raymone Bain. "Who wouldn't be nervous? It's a very difficult situation to sit in there and know that your life is in the balance."

Mr. Jackson, the pop star, sat unmoving at the defense table as Judge Rodney S. Melville of Santa Barbara County Superior Court read 98 pages of jury instructions that included detailed descriptions of the 10 counts.

Mr. Jackson, 46, is charged with four counts of child molesting, one count of attempted child molesting, four counts of administering alcohol to a minor to aid in the commission of a felony and one count of conspiracy to commit extortion, child abduction and false imprisonment.

If convicted on all counts, the singer could spend more than 18 years in prison.

Mr. Jackson's parents, Katherine and Joe, and two of his brothers, Tito and Randy, accompanied him to court on Wednesday. Other members of the family will attend court on Thursday and Friday during closing arguments, Ms. Bain said.

Ms. Bain said that Mr. Jackson and his lawyers were confident that the jury would acquit him of all charges, but the atmosphere in the courtroom and the mood of the defense team as they left the courthouse was somber.

The jury of eight women and four men followed Judge Melville's instructions intently, reading along with written copies provided by the court. The judge told them that they had heard all the evidence - including more than 140 witnesses over 14 weeks - and were about to hear closing arguments from lawyers for both sides. Those arguments are expected to conclude on Friday morning.

They should presume Mr. Jackson innocent and weigh the charges against him without "pity for or prejudice against" him, the judge said. He told jurors that they should draw no inference from the fact that Mr. Jackson did not take the stand in his own defense.

Ms. Bain said that Mr. Jackson relied on his faith in God and the American justice system to get through the trial. She said he spoke with the Rev. Jesse Jackson nearly every day.

She said that she did not know the singer's views on the possibility that he might be going to prison.

"He's a grown man; he knows what life is about," she said. "Nobody needs to talk to him about what it would be like in prison."

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Down To Wire In Jackson Case

Andrew Cohen

Imagine yourself in a small boat on the ocean, bobbing up and down between the swells. One minute you are up on a crest. The next minute you are down in a trough. One minute you can see the horizon. The next you see nothing but a wall of water. That's what it's like covering the Michael Jackson molestation and conspiracy trial as it nears its dramatic conclusion.

Jackson is up. He is down. He is certain to be acquitted of all but the least serious charges. He is a cinch to be led out of the courtroom in handcuffs. Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon did a solid job of presenting evidence against Jackson. Sneddon is the biggest boob to grace a California courtroom since Marcia Clark.

Like music or art or wine or movies, where this case now stands — what Jackson's fate is likely to be — is entirely in the eye of the beholder.

For example, after months of relentless doubt about the strength of Sneddon's case, the buzz here in lovely Santa Maria is that Jackson now is in big trouble. Why? Because last Friday jurors saw a videotape of an interview between the police and the alleged victim in the case, a video that in the eyes of most court watchers here cast a completely new and entirely positive light upon the credibility of Jackson's accuser. Whereas the young man was surly and contentious and not a little unbelievable on the witness stand a few months ago, he was sad and not a little sympathetic on the videotape.

Compounding this "evolving" impression of the state of the case is the fact that Jackson's attorneys chose not to respond to the introduction of the videotape into the trial. They had threatened last week to call back to the witness stand their client's accuser to try to offset the damage done by the videotape. But then they changed their minds and simply rested the case with the videotaped testimony left unanswered by Team Jackson. The defense is off-balance! the spinsters breathlessly declared. Reeling! A body blow!

Conventional wisdom, whatever that means, now sees the videotape as a "game-changer" that may have saved the prosecution's case. This is from the same folks who weeks ago were laughing about how badly prosecutors were being routed by the defense. I'm throwing stones at myself, too. I am one of the bloviators and I have spoken and written things during the course of this trial that, in retrospect, seem relatively quaint. Mostly that's because trying to evaluate which side is "winning" and which side is "losing" during the course of a trial is like trying to gauge who is winning a chess match without being able to see the board or talk to the players.

I don't think journalists are alone in feeling this way about this trial. I suspect that the jurors themselves have been seesawing back and forth from witness to witness, or theory to theory. It's only natural and, frankly, a healthy sign of the kind of open-mindedness you want to see from a group of people determining a man's fate. Besides, the judge here admonished the panel to reserve its final judgments until all the evidence was introduced and all the arguments made. If there were momentum shifts among the jurors, individually or collectively, we likely will never know when they occurred or how much they impacted the jury's final decisions.

The problem for the defense, of course, is that prosecutors have the momentum going into closing arguments, and there ought to be a real fear in the Jackson camp that this momentum will carry over into deliberations. That's why Thursday's closing arguments may be more important for the defense than they are for prosecutors. Not only do Jackson's attorneys have to remind jurors about all the good evidence their side presented during the trial, they also have to try to grab momentum back and that is very difficult to do when only a lawyer, and not an important witness, is talking to the panel.

So the endgame, finally, is here. Before the end of the week, the jury will have the case. After months of listening, they'll finally have their chance to speak.

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Jackson jury hears legal instructions



Closing arguments set to begin today

In a hushed courtroom on Wednesday, the judge in the Michael Jackson child molestation trial read aloud the legal instructions jurors must follow when they begin deliberating the entertainer's fate, possibly as early as Friday.

Mr. Jackson sat still with his hands folded in his lap, looking directly at Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville as he spent 90 minutes reading 98 pages of instructions to the jury.

The judge addressed the jurors from the witness box, where he first spoke to them when they were sworn in 14 weeks ago in February.

"You have to accept and follow the law I state to you, regardless of whether you agree with it," he told them. "You may not be influenced by pity for or bias against the defendant. . . . You must weigh the evidence, apply the law and reach a verdict regardless of the consequences."

The judge's calm, almost soothing tone, became louder and firmer as he read through the instructions that will serve as a road map for the 12 jurors.

Katherine Jackson, who has been there every day of her son's trial, jotted notes in a book. Her husband, Joe Jackson, two of her sons, Randy and Tito, and a former manager, Frank Dileo, sat by her side, sometimes closing their eyes as the judge read on.

Mr. Jackson, who is free on $3 million bail, has pleaded not guilty to child molestation, administering alcohol to a minor to commit a felony, and conspiracy. The charges bring up to 18 years in state prison if he is convicted on all 10 counts.

Today, Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen and lead defense lawyer Thomas Mesereau will begin their closing arguments. The judge will limit each to four hours. This is the final chance for each side to make sense of testimony from 140 witnesses and hours of videotaped evidence. Both sides face steep challenges. Prosecutors must convince jurors that the testimony of key witnesses is credible. The defense team must show that though Mr. Jackson regularly slept with adolescent boys, he did not molest them.

On Wednesday, the packed courtroom was so quiet that onlookers could hear the pages turn as the judge read the instructions. He stopped once for a drink of water, momentarily breaking the tension in the room when he told jurors: "I read to my wife at night so she'll go to sleep. I hope I'm not having that effect here."

Judge Melville read the charges against Mr. Jackson numerous times, explaining how the jury of eight women and four men must take into account the credibility of the witnesses in determining whether they were telling the truth, an issue which has been central to the case.

The defense aggressively attacked the credibility of prosecution witnesses, including the accuser and his mother, whom they've called greedy liars.

Jurors will also be able to consider Mr. Jackson's prior relationships with adolescent boys, but only to determine if he has a propensity for an alleged pattern of behavior.

By Wednesday afternoon when Mr. Jackson left the courtroom, a growing group of fans screamed "Michael's innocent!"

The entertainer was escorted to his black SUV by his defense team and family. He waved briefly, slipped into his vehicle and was driven back to Neverland Valley Ranch, where he spends evenings with his family and three children.

"The children have been shielded from this, so when they go home and he gets the love of his children and they want ice cream or popcorn or for daddy to go over homework, that takes his mind off of what goes on during the day," spokeswoman Raymone Bain later told the News-Press. "It relaxes him tremendously . . . After dinner, he is then on the phone religiously with (lead lawyer) Tom Mesereau and the defense team. It's a very rigorous schedule."

The trial has worn on the entertainer, who has visibly lost weight since his first court appearance in January 2004: "He's had various emotions," Ms. Bain said. "He's been very hurt, angry, appalled, but he's also very happy when things are going well.

"Michael's been relying on his faith in God and his belief in the justice system," she said. "He's, of course, very nervous -- as anyone would be. But he's gotten a lot of support from his family and he's had friends calling him who have helped, like the Rev. Jesse Jackson."

Dawn Hobbs is also an analyst from NBC News. You may e-mail her at


MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS: Judge Rodney Melville read jury instructions to the 12 people who will decide Michael Jackson's legal fate.

WHAT'S NEXT: Prosecutor Ron Zonen and lead defense lawyer Thomas Mesereau are expected to make closing arguments to the jury.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "He's, of course, very nervous -- as anyone would be."

-- Raymone Bain, Mr. Jackson's spokeswoman, on his feelings as the case is about to go to the jury

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JACKSON TRIAL: Fans gather at Neverland gates



A snapshot of the King of Pop's parents and a receipt for a taxi ride that topped $100 is all Michael Schmid has to show for his first visit to Neverland Valley Ranch.

But for the 25-year-old German tourist, anything's better than nothing.

Mr. Schmid was among the 100-plus fans who gathered at the gates of Michael Jackson's Figueroa Mountain Road ranch to catch a glimpse of the singer as he returned from court Wednesday afternoon. And even though the place didn't look exactly as it does on TV -- he didn't know the familiar "Neverland" gate is actually deep within the grounds -- Mr. Schmid called the experience unforgettable.

"It was overwhelming," he said moments after the Jackson motorcade made its way past the crowd at about 2:40 p.m.

Mr. Jackson arrived at his home north of Los Olivos to find both lanes of the road blocked by fans, some holding a giant banner, while others crowded onto a portion of the driveway. All cheered him on.

Joe Jackson, Mr. Jackson's father, was the first familiar face to appear from behind the rear passenger window of a black GMC Yukon that slowed down as the fans pushed toward it. Next to him was the singer's mother, Katherine.

Seated behind them was the 46-year-old singer, who stuck his hand out the window and waved. The fans responded with shrieks and screams.

Mr. Schmid had hoped to get a clear shot of Michael Jackson's face. Instead, "I got a great picture of his parents," he said, his face beaming.

Soon after, he hopped back into a taxi cab that looked more like a presidential stretch limousine for the ride back to his hotel in Santa Barbara -- a round trip that cost him and his parents $120.

Many of the fans drove to the gates of Neverland from the courthouse in Santa Maria, but one woman, New Jersey letter carrier Lili Bakan, arrived by bicycle from Solvang.

The ride, which she has done before during her weeklong stay, is 90 minutes of "hell," Ms. Bakan said. But getting to Neverland has actually taken her 20 years.

"I'm just hoping I see him today," Ms. Bakan said before pulling out some photos that she planned to make into a collage for the singer. "If I don't see him, I'm going to die."

Rhonda Buckingham and her family arrived from the Northern California town of Manteca on Tuesday and spent the afternoon dancing to the tunes of their favorite singer, who they are convinced is the target of greedy people and a malicious prosecutor.

"We know he's innocent. It's all about the money," said Mrs. Buckingham, 47. "They really should arrest (District Attorney) Tom Sneddon for abuse of power."

She noted that Mr. Jackson isn't the first adult to share his bed with a child.

"We grew up with five kids sleeping in our bed," said Mrs. Buckingham, who is the mother of four children of her own. "Nothing bad ever happened."

Once Mr. Jackson was ensconced at the ranch, his security chief, who identified himself only as Terry, worked the crowd, accepting cards, letters and other tokens on Mr. Jackson's behalf and telling supporters to avoid seeming too exuberant at this point, adding there will be time to party when his boss walks out of the courtroom a free man.

"There's an ugly evil out there," he said. "Some people don't want him vindicated."

To cheers of the fans he said, "Mr. Jackson will be totally vindicated."

Karen Faye, longtime friend and makeup artist for Mr. Jackson, told the fans that he is holding up well considering what he's up against.

"It's really, really hard for him to go through this," she said. "We're just here to support him."

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Closing arguments begin today
By Quintin Cushner/Staff Writer

Closing arguments are set to begin in Santa Maria today in the Michael Jackson child-molestation case, with both the prosecution and defense pleading their cases to jurors one last time.

Each side is being given about four hours to argue its position. Santa Barbara County Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen will speak first, followed by Jackson defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr.

Since prosecutors have the burden of proof, Zonen will also make a rebuttal argument after the defense finishes.

Arguments are limited to evidence and testimony presented at trial, and the prosecution's rebuttal can only address issues raised by the defense's wrap-up.

In recent years, closing arguments have gone multimedia, with computer-assisted presentations and audio-visual aids used to emphasize key points.

Zonen is expected to argue that Jackson is a pedophile and criminal schemer, who over a three-year period lured a cancer-stricken boy with gifts and attention; plied him with alcohol and pornography; and then molested him on four occasions. The prosecutor also will allege that Jackson conspired to abduct, falsely imprison and extort the boy and his family so they would rebut a controversial TV special about the pop star.

Mesereau is likely to portray Jackson as the target of a boy and his mother who had a history of lying and a hunger for financial gain. Mesereau was expected to argue that the mother made false claims in a lawsuit against J.C. Penney that eventually settled for $162,000. The attorney may also allege that the mother used her cancer-patient son to form attachments to celebrities, and that the accusations against Jackson only surfaced after the entertainer severed ties with the family.

The 12-person jury will begin deliberations soon after closing arguments finish, probably sometime on Friday.

Jackson, 46, has pleaded not guilty to all 10 felony counts he faces.

Jurors on Wednesday received more than 90 minutes of instructions from Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville.

The panel appeared attentive as they tracked the judge's words in their own copies of the 98-page instructions packet.

Much of the directive was aimed at explaining the complex conspiracy charge.

Prosecutors allege 28 overt acts committed in the furtherance of the conspiracy. For Jackson to be convicted on the conspiracy charge, jurors must find that Jackson agreed to commit a crime, that the overt act happened and was in furtherance of a crime, and that the singer played some role in planning or committing the overt act.

Melville told jurors that to convict Jackson of molestation, they need only find that he touched his accuser with designs on arousing himself or the boy. Proof of Jackson's direct contact with the boy's genitals is not required.

Jurors were also given the option of convicting Jackson on a misdemeanor count of furnishing a minor with alcohol, if they do not find him guilty of administering the alcohol for the purposes of molestation.

They were instructed not to draw conclusions from Jackson's decision not to testify.

Panelists can consider for limited purposes "propensity" evidence introduced at trial about alleged past sexual impropriety by Jackson. Such evidence can be used to determine if Jackson was predisposed to commit the crimes he is charged with.

The judge also informed jurors that they must decide whether to consider testimony from witnesses who made willfully false statements on the stand. The defense has claimed the accuser's mother, who is a key witness to the alleged conspiracy, lied on the stand.

Jackson sat still as Melville instructed jurors. He had no comment as he left court.

"I think he is nervous," Jackson's publicist Raymone Bain told reporters. "It's a very difficult situation to sit in there and know your life is in the balance. He has strong faith in God and in the judicial system. He knows his fate is in the hands of 12 jurors."

The Santa Maria Times, following its established policy, is not identifying those who allege they were abused by Jackson, even though they are being named in court.

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Steve Corbett

Commentary: Facing reality as closing arguments begin

Agitation flashed on Michael Jackson's face as he left the courthouse Wednesday.

Even the predictable little courtesy bow he offers with his palms pressed together couldn't mask the look that Jackson flashed as he headed home after a tough day.

Judge Rodney Melville had just spent about 90 minutes reading the jury the required legal instructions they need to decide the outcome of Jackson's child-molestation trial.

Listening to the details of those horrid allegations upset Jackson, publicist Raymone Bain told the press after court.

The facts of the case upset me, too.

But I'm not the guy facing prison.

And I wondered as I watched the jurors Wednesday if anybody in the 46-year-old celebrity's family or inner circle cares enough about his mental state to have spoken with him about prison.

Doing time is really something to get anxious about.

So I asked Bain at her press conference if anybody has talked with Jackson about the very real possibility that he might one day soon go to jail.

If convicted on any of the charges against him, Jackson's $3 million bail could be revoked and he could be immediately remanded to custody. Deputies would approach Jackson at the defense table, handcuff him and take him away.

Bain seemed perturbed by the question.

Of course nobody has talked to Jackson about doing time, she said.

"He's a grown man," she snapped.

Nobody has to sit down with him and tell him about the realities of the world.

Oh yeah?

If nobody has, somebody better.

Jackson is no tough guy.

Even real hard men and women who have never been to prison need to know what they face when the cell doors slam and their worlds turn upside down. If the state ever puts Jackson away, his life will change drastically from what he has known for most of his life.

I don't know if Jackson or Bain has ever set foot inside a county or state prison.

I do know that it's tough inside.

A long time ago I worked with violent, long-term offenders in a state penitentiary. During those three years, I listened to men cry for help and scream in the darkness like the hysterical captives they were.

I pulled them apart when they attacked each other.

And I watched them break when they confessed their crimes - grisly acts of mutilation, death and destruction.

One man never quite got over being raped in prison by several assailants.

Another man hanged himself on J-Block but the guards cut down his teenage corpse before I got to work.

Some of those long days and nights inside will stay with me forever.

I still remember the feel of the gun and hollow points I bought and carried after some ex-cons told me that an escaped inmate had threatened to get me.

Still, I like some of the guys I knew behind bars.

Some of them never would have wound up there had somebody interceded and helped them along the way. Alcohol and drugs played a big part in many of the crimes the men committed that sent them to prison.

Mental illness also figured into the lives of many men who wound up inside.

Instability helps sometimes, though.

Some of the more predatory inmates kept their distance from a pretty young man who regularly screamed and spit in the shower in a crazed battle to keep the demons away.

Jackson needs to know the madness that might await. Talking about prison is the least that those who claim to love him can do for him as closing arguments begin today.

Of course, staying positive has its merits. But facing reality is something people should have recommended to Jackson a long time ago.

Still, jurors might rule in Jackson's favor.

Then what?

Before court Wednesday, former Jackson manager Frank Dileo stood in the back parking lot waiting for the Jackson family to arrive. Chewing gum and wearing dark shades, Dileo checked his big gold watch and adjusted the gold bracelet on his other wrist.

"All by your lonesome," I said.

"Not for long," he said.

So what do you think, Frank?

"It's a beautiful sunshiny day," he said, with the slick tone of a guy not used to being quoted unless he wants to be quoted.

OK, let's be positive. Maybe this will all work out, I said. Maybe Jackson will walk away from all charges, victorious, free and vindicated. Then what? Maybe a real victory tour?

"We have no plans," Dileo said.

That's probably wise.

Especially if Jackson winds up in the joint.

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Subdued Michael Jackson awaits jury's deliberations


Associated Press

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - A subdued Michael Jackson sat silently in court on the eve of closing arguments in his child-molestation trial, well aware that within a matter of days his future will be placed in the hands of a jury.

"It's a very difficult situation to sit in there and know your life is in the balance," Jackson spokeswoman Raymone K. Bain said Wednesday after the entertainer moved quickly and quietly past reporters on his way out of the courthouse. Closing arguments in his case were to begin Thursday with jurors expected to get the case sometime Friday.

"He has strong faith in God and in the judicial system," Bain said of Jackson. "He knows his fate is in the hands of 12 jurors."

Jackson sat stone still in court for nearly two hours Wednesday as those jurors were repeatedly reminded of the child molestation charges against him as they were given instructions for their deliberations.

The 46-year-old entertainer is charged with molesting a 13-year-old cancer survivor in February or March 2003, plying him with wine and conspiring to hold his family captive to get them to rebut damaging aspects of the documentary "Living With Michael Jackson," in which Jackson appeared holding hands with the boy as he talked of allowing children into his bed for what he said were innocent sleepovers.

Bain said Jackson's emotions have varied during his 14-week trial.

"He has had anger. He's been happy about some of the information that has come out in court," she said.

Earlier Wednesday, Jackson sat frozen in place and looked straight ahead as Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville, sitting in the witness box to be closer to the jury, read a long list of instructions hammered out during more than a day of discussions with prosecuting and defense attorneys.

Melville told the eight women and four men of the jury they must determine what the facts are from testimony, follow the law as presented by the judge and make their decision without "pity for or prejudice toward" the defendant.

The judge listed the 10-count indictment against Jackson, which includes two counts of committing a lewd act on a minor as witnessed by the alleged victim and two counts of lewd acts on a minor as witnessed by the alleged victim's brother.

During testimony the accuser described two molestation incidents and his brother said he twice saw the accuser being molested while asleep.

The indictment also alleges one count of an attempted lewd act, one count of conspiracy involving child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion, and four counts of administering an intoxicating agent - alcohol - for the purpose of committing a felony, child molestation.

Following up on an earlier decision regarding the alcohol allegations, the judge told the jurors they may consider a "lesser charge" of "furnishing alcohol to a minor," a misdemeanor. The instruction means the jury would not have to relate the alcohol to the purpose of molestation.


AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch contributed to this report.

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Jackson glum as trial winds down

By Linda Deutsch Associated Press

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- Michael Jackson sat stone-still for nearly two hours Wednesday in a hushed courtroom as the jurors who will decide his fate were repeatedly reminded of the child-molestation charges against him while being given instructions for their deliberations.
Jackson appeared glum as he left the courthouse, rushing past reporters at the end of the day.

The pop star was nervous and upset, said his spokeswoman, Raymone K. Bain.

"He realizes in the next few days there will be jury deliberations. ... It's a very difficult situation to sit in there and know your life is in the balance," she said. "He has strong faith in God and in the judicial system. He knows his fate is in the hands of 12 jurors."

Bain sought to dispel rumors that Jackson was considering fleeing the country or not being in court for the verdict.

"All of these rumors -- that's a lie," she said. "He's here, and he's coming into court."

Jackson's emotions have varied during the long trial, she said.

"He has had anger. He's been happy about some of the information that has come out in court," she said.

Earlier in court, Jackson sat frozen in place and looked straight ahead as Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville, sitting in the witness box to be closer to the jury, read a long list of instructions hammered out during more than a day of discussions with prosecuting and defense attorneys.

The court was once again filled to capacity because of the trial's approaching finale. Jackson's mother, Katherine, and father, Joe, and brothers Randy and Tito watched from the front row.

Melville told the eight women and four men of the jury that closing arguments will begin today and they will be given the case sometime Friday, 14 weeks after opening statements.

"You've heard all of the evidence, and you will hear the arguments of attorneys," Melville said.

He told jurors they must determine what the facts are from testimony, follow the law as presented by the judge and make their decision without "pity for or prejudice toward" the defendant.

Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old cancer survivor in February or March 2003, plying him with wine and conspiring to hold his family captive to get them to rebut damaging aspects of the documentary "Living With Michael Jackson," which aired in the United States on Feb. 6, 2003.

In the documentary, Jackson said that he allows children to sleep in his bed but that it is an innocent, nonsexual practice. He was shown holding hands with the boy.

The judge listed the 10-count indictment against Jackson, which includes two counts of committing a lewd act on a minor as witnessed by the boy himself and two counts of lewd acts on a minor as witnessed by the boy's brother.

During testimony, the accuser described two molestation incidents, and his brother said he twice saw the accuser being molested while asleep.

Jackson also faces one count of an attempted lewd act, four counts of administering an intoxicating agent -- alcohol -- for the purpose of committing child molestation, and one count of conspiracy involving child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.

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Judge Instructs Jury in Jackson Sex Abuse Trial

Jurors, who listen to 98 pages of legal guidelines to help them decide case against the pop star, will hear closing arguments starting this morning.

By Steve Chawkins, Times Staff Writer

SANTA MARIA, Calif. – Seated in the witness stand, the judge in Michael Jackson's child-molestation trial Wednesday somberly read the jury some 98 pages of legal instructions that are to guide them as they determine the pop star's future.

Jackson sat motionless, staring at the jury, as Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville recited dense legal language for more than 90 minutes. Jackson's parents, and brothers Tito and Randy, looked on from the gallery.

With Melville's instructions fresh in their minds, jurors will hear closing arguments starting this morning before retreating into the jury room for their first discussions about the case.

The defense and the prosecution each will have as long as four hours to make their final appeals in a cliffhanger trial that has careened from one dramatic piece of evidence to the next over nearly 14 weeks of testimony. The arguments could spill over into Friday.

Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy at Neverland ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley in 2003. He is also charged with giving minors alcohol to aid in the commission of a felony and of conspiring to keep the accuser and his family from leaving the ranch. If convicted on all charges, he faces more than 20 years in prison.

Among Melville's instructions were rules for considering a videotape played just days ago that may be one of the most powerful weapons in the prosecution's arsenal.

In the 2003 video, Jackson's young accuser haltingly told Santa Barbara sheriff's deputies that Jackson had molested him. The nervous 13-year-old boy on the tape was a marked contrast to the wisecracking, sometimes prickly 15-year-old who testified at the trial in March.

Defense attorneys tried to show that the accuser's mother coached him to come forward with the molestation allegation so the family could sue Jackson. Melville reminded jurors that they could view the videotape only to observe the boy's demeanor and gauge whether he was parroting a fabricated story, and not to decide whether he had been molested.

The judge issued similar instructions about other videos that were shown during the trial and which may be replayed during closing arguments and during the jury's deliberations.

Separating a witness' demeanor from the legal concept known as "the truth of the matter" will be quite a trick, according to some experts.

"It's easy on paper but hard in reality," said Andrew Cohen, a legal analyst attending Wednesday's court session. "Jurors will be fighting over the meaning of those videos and what they're allowed to take away from them."

The other videos include "Living With Michael Jackson," a British TV documentary in which the pop star admitted that he enjoyed nonsexual sleepovers with children. The worldwide uproar following that broadcast prompted a "rebuttal video" from Jackson in which the accuser and his family lauded him as a loving father figure.

Jurors saw the rebuttal video several times in the trial and are likely to see snippets again. Prosecutors allege that Jackson held the family hostage to force them to make the video.

The defense has used the tape to argue that the boy and his family, so enthusiastic about Jackson before the camera, were not captives.

In his instructions, Melville also said the jury may opt to find Jackson guilty of a misdemeanor – furnishing wine to a minor – rather than the more serious charge of administering alcohol in order to commit a felony. That instruction may offer jurors some room to negotiate.

"I could see some horse-trading going on," Cohen said.

At the end of the court day, Jackson and his entourage left without comment. His spokeswoman, Raymone Bain, said the star was "a little upset" as the charges against him were read.

Asked whether Jackson was conferring with anyone to prepare for the possibility of prison, she said he wasn't. "He's a grown man," Bain said. "He knows life and what life is all about."

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La Toya, Janet to close show


SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Jurors in Michael Jackson's child-molestation trial may get their first in-person look at the pop star's flashy sisters Janet and La Toya today as lawyers for both sides deliver their all-important closing arguments.
The Jackson glamour gals are expected to join their mom, pop and brothers in court for the last hurrah in the trial that will either send the pop icon to jail or back to Neverland Ranch for a postverdict bash.

With the hard-fought 62-day-long court battle headed for the last round, the pop star is "nervous" and "upset," his spokeswoman Raymone Bain said.

"He realizes in the next few days there will be jury deliberations," she said. "It's a very difficult situation to sit in there and know your life is in the balance. He has strong faith in God and a strong faith in the judicial system. But he knows his fate lies in the hands of 12 people."

The arguments by prosecutor Ron Zonen and defense lawyer Tom Mesereau are expected to last all day today and part of tomorrow. Each side has up to four hours to state their case.

Then, after a few parting words from the judge, the jury of eight women and four men, who range in age from 20 to 79, are expected to begin deliberations tomorrow afternoon.

"Michael's family wants to be there for him and he wants them there," said a source. Jackson's parents, Katherine and Joe, and the singer's brothers have been regulars at court since the jury was seated, but La Toya and Janet haven't been seen since a pretrial hearing last summer. Jackson's oldest sister, Rebbie. has never shown up.

Jackson is accused of plying a 13-year-old cancer survivor with booze and molesting him and conspiring to hold the boy and his family against their will to force their participation in a sappy video in 2003. Jackson denies all charges.

Meanwhile, in an interview to air tonight on ABC's "Primetime Live," Jackson pal Frank Tyson, who was named as an "unindicted co-conspirator" in the alleged plot to hold the accuser's family against their will, said the accuser is "lying." He described the teen as a street tough who "would be the first one to knock Michael out" if he had touched him.

Originally published on June 2, 2005

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FOX 411

Jackson's Rich Protégé?

Thursday, June 02, 2005
By Roger Friedman

Michael Jackson's longtime protégé, confidante and friend, is broke and living at home with his parents.

That was one of the many things we discussed recently after Frank Tyson learned he would not be called by either side in the Jackson case.

Tyson -- which is stage name -- is the son of New Jersey restaurateur Dominic Cascio , who met Jackson when he was banquet manager at New York's Helmsley Palace Hotel in the early 1990s. The elder Cascio would have been an excellent character witness for Jackson: an adult male upon whom Jackson depends for advice and who trusts the singer enough to let his children stay at Neverland unsupervised.

Tyson, whom I first met when Jackson was involved with Shmuley Boteach in a questionable charity, is only 24 years old. He's trying to get his music career together without Jackson's help and he's just starting to make some inroads. But when he heard that Judge Rodney Melville mentioned his name while reading the Jackson jury their instructions yesterday, he had to laugh again.

One of the most amusing of the 28 items that make up the "conspiracy" charge is that Michael Jackson allegedly gave Frank Tyson $1 million in cash on March 31, 2003.

Today, Tyson is wondering where that million dollars might be. Last week, after his grandmother passed away suddenly, Tyson moved home to stay with his parents. He was forced to give up his share in a midtown apartment. The reason? He's broke.

Isn't that the reason most 24-year-olds move home?

Of course, readers of this column know that the $1 million withdrawn from Washington Mutual Bank in Santa Monica by Tyson was taken directly to Jackson. Tyson and I talked about that as well. It's laughable to think he pocketed the money, he said. And we know what Jackson did with some of it: He bought an almost $500,000 Mercedes limousine. This is also not in evidence.

"Michael likes to have cash around the house so he can buy things without asking his accountant," Tyson told me.

It was not uncommon for Tyson to run such errands for Jackson.

As far as holding the Arvizo family against their will, Tyson says it was often the other way around. Directed to baby-sit them for several weeks, Tyson and his pal, Vinnie Amen were at Janet Arvizo's beck and call. Tyson and Amen were assigned by Jackson's associate Marc Schaffel to look after the Arvizo family in February 2003 after Jackson's manager, Dieter Wiesner, antagonized the mother beyond belief.

Amen voluntarily submitted to an interview with assistant District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss back on Dec. 30, 2004. After accepting limited use immunity, he gave Auchincloss a three-hour interview and answered all his questions about the "conspiracy." Unfortunately, Amen's answers contradicted the district attorney's charges and Auchincloss realized he couldn't call Amen as a witness.

Amen, his immunity limited to just that interview, then declined to testify for the defense. So nobody will ever hear his story. Neither he nor Tyson, nor Schaffel has ever gotten to tell their side of the story or has even been interviewed by the defense.

Now Tyson and Amen are at the center of the conspiracy charge, which is at the heart of Tom Sneddon's case against Jackson. What Tyson did for Jackson, and Amen for Tyson, was a favor. The Arvizos had come to Jackson right after Martin Bashir's special, "Living With Michael Jackson," aired in Britain on Feb. 3, 2003.

They had been approached by, and sort of sold a story to, the Daily Mail of London the next day. Tyson and Amen were asked to keep the family away from the media. No good turn goes unpunished, as they say.

But almost none of this came out in testimony during the 14-week trial. I'm not sure why, because certainly the evidence was there to be introduced. As Melville read off the laundry list of conspiracy charges yesterday, all I could think was that this should be a no-brainer. But as one observer said: That was a long list.

Another item on the conspiracy list was the Arvizos weeklong stay at a hotel in Calabasas, Calif. As far as I know, the receipt for that stay never made it into evidence. I've told you that it shows endless phone calls made by Janet Arvizo to family and friends. There are also receipts for their trip to the movies and endless shopping sprees and meals out.

The jury heard little of that in testimony. They never got to hear about the benefits of being "kidnapped" by Michael Jackson. Perhaps the jury in the inevitable civil case --which will probably be filed by the Arvizos any day now -- will get to hear about all of that.

Molestation Still Has No Fixed Time

Part of early yesterday's court proceedings dealt with how to work out telling the jury about the specific counts against Michael Jackson. Four of them concern child molestation, which is the most serious. Nevertheless, District Attorney Tom Sneddon didn't want to be specific about those charges.

You see, after all these weeks, we still do not know when Jackson allegedly molested the then 13-year-old son of Janet Arvizo. We also do not know when her 12-year-old witnessed this behavior. Sneddon is satisfied with the older boy's quote: "It happened toward the end of our stay [at Neverland]."

That's the charge that could send Michael Jackson to Corcoran State Prison as a cell neighbor of Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan , who assassinated Robert Kennedy. The boy recalls all sorts of things in his testimony; such as the times he visited Neverland, the games he played, etc. But he can't give dates for the two times that he says Michael Jackson molested him. He can't even give a parameter such as: "It was the day after we played bumper cars." Or "I remember because we'd feeding the llamas that day." Or "I'll never forget it because my brother pushed me off the swings."


Judge Melville seems satisfied with this situation, to a point. He said in court yesterday to defense attorney Robert Sanger : "We've seen in these kinds of case that children don't give times and dates."

I'm a fan of Judge Melville, but that doesn't ring true in this case. The Arvizo boys were not toddlers; they were 12 and 13, large physicality and in personality. Comedian Chris Tucker testified it was the accuser who introduced him to Michael Jackson when the boy was 10 or 11. The same boy also pursued a friendship with comedian Jay Leno and kept in regular contact with many other comics as well. He made regular phone calls to all of them and was considered "cunning" by Tucker and articulate by people like George Lopez and Louise Palanker .

He was only inarticulate when it came to recalling exact details of his intimate experiences with Michael Jackson.

Tomorrow we'll address the timeline, which still doesn't make sense in a case full of twists and turns.

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The verdict on Jackson's pop career: thrilling

His acts are on trial, but he has acquitted himself well musically

By Ricardo Baca
Denver Post Pop Music Critic

Michael Jackson, a.k.a. Wacko Jacko, is facing 10 felony counts in a California courtroom that could put him behind bars for more than 18 years.

Strange, but it's the same Michael Jackson, a.k.a. the King of Pop, who has given us some of the finest, most influential music since the debut of recorded sound.

While the jury is still out in Santa Maria - the molestation case should be passed on to them Friday - Jackson's place in music history has been cemented for decades.

It is a storied career, one that began with the Jackson 5's debut single "I Want You Back" in 1969 when Michael was just 11. His ability to channel James Brown's dance moves and eventually redefine the sound of pop (with a hand from Quincy Jones) made him simply the biggest pop star in the world.

Whatever you may think of Jackson's current musical relevance, you need only look across Jackson's discography to see the potency of his contribution. Almost every record was a household name at one point. Some transcended pop culture and defined an entire era of radio and recording.

Like most artists, he enjoyed a prolific period. His came between 1979 and 1987, when he reigned over the world's popscape and was an adored icon for millions. But as the spotlight swung away from Jackson in the past 15 years, he has struggled to redefine himself musically and personally.

Michael Jackson's three most influential records show his career arc, from the pre-disco pop he pioneered with his brothers; his first adult solo project, with all its fresh promise; and his pop masterpiece, the best-selling disc of all time and a record that still defines post-disco pop.

1. "Thriller," Michael Jackson, 1982: The obvious choice, for good reason. Not only does the seminal record kick off with the undeniable post-disco bass line of "Wanna Be Startin' Something'," this is also where we got "Beat It," "Billie Jean," "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)," "Human Nature" and the title track - an unbelievable source of early-'80s pop goodness.

True, "Thriller" is plagued by the ill-fated Paul McCartney-

duet "The Girl Is Mine," a Top-10 ballad that hasn't withstood time as well as its record-mates. But look past McCartney and Jackson harmonizing "The doggone girl is mine" and you'll see the rest of the record, which became the biggest-selling album of all time with more than 45 million in worldwide sales and No.1 status in every Western country.

Of "Thriller's" seven Top-10 singles, the one that never got respect as one of Jackson's most epic tracks is "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)," a song many fans couldn't hum without the record's assistance. But give it another listen: While there are the staples of Jones' production, don't discount Jackson's assured voice and presence, which never seemed more comfortable or natural.

2. "ABC," Jackson 5, 1970:

The Jackson 5's sophomore release is where the group set its true course of pre-disco pop. Michael Jackson and his brothers already had struck pop gold in "I Want You Back," but this record brought on the standard-setting "ABC," "The Love You Save," and the lesser-celebrated "(Come 'Round Here) I'm the One You Need," all of which exemplified the luscious simplicity for which the band would become known.

They weren't afraid to give multiple spelling lessons on the "ABC" LP: "S is for 'Save me;' T is for 'Take it slow;' O is for 'Oh, no;' P is for 'Please, please don't go.' " With Michael's undeniable voice fronting the operation - and stealing the spotlight at every turn - the record not only paved the way for future releases from the Jackson 5, a group that remains one of the most successful black pop-soul bands in history, but also for the work Michael Jackson would go on to accomplish.

The juxtaposition of fuzzed-out guitars and clean piano in the song "ABC" - along with the varying Jackson voices, which get more of a workout here than anywhere else within their greatest hits - gives the song an astonishing relevance, even today. It is packaged for mass consumption, with simple chords and kindergarten-level lyrics, but the song's lively, youthful vibe ensures that it's a dance-floor jam nearly 35 years after it was written.

3. "Off the Wall," Michael Jackson, 1979: This is undoubtedly the path that led Jackson to "Thriller," and while it is a sometimes awkward growth spurt, it also captures Jackson at a time of innocence and uninflated ego. "Bad," the 1987 record that spawned five No.1s, was an accomplishment - but it was also slightly smug, with Jackson flexing and "hooo"-ing when he didn't need to. This makes "Off the Wall" an even more enjoyable listen.

It's nearly impossible to make out what he's saying in "Don't Stop 'Till You Get Enough," but it's better that way. The lyrics are inane. The beat is anything but. Horn-accented and guitar-fueled, this song is all about Jackson's upper-register, the vague yet intoxicating croon that was amazing because Jackson still possessed it at 25. "Rock With You" was pure adult-contemporary saccharine, but it was still great 1980 radio.

Don't forget about the pseudo-beat boxing that led into "Workin' Day and Night," a mindless disco confection that was fun and slightly ahead of its time. But it's the title track's classic structure and harmonies that are the album's standouts. It had everything - from Jackson's trademark sustain to the remarkably soft R&B-light production. It signified a change in Jackson, who seemed to be making the conscious decision to become one of the biggest stars the world has seen.

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Last Chance To Sway Jackson Jury

After many long months of investigation, 14 weeks of trial, and the testimony of 135 witnesses, the prosecution and defense in the Michael Jackson child molestation case have one last chance to sway the jury.

In his commentary, CBS News Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen previews the logic each side could use to prove its point in closing arguments, which begin Thursday.

What The Prosecution Should Say

The following is a summary of what Santa Barbara prosecutor Ron Zonen should - but probably won't - say during his closing argument in the Michael Jackson child molestation and conspiracy case.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: Thank you for your patience and focus during this long case. I know it has not been easy on you and your families and I just want you to know that we appreciate your service and the commitment you have made. You are here to determine a man's fate and that is never an easy thing to do.

This case, however, is easier than most. The defendant himself has told you, and the world, on videotape, that he sees nothing wrong with sleeping with young boys. He sees this, in a twisted way, as perfectly natural.

I submit to you that it is natural only to someone willing and capable of child molestation. The defendant's own words put him at the scene of a crime; a crime that was detailed to you not just by the victim in this case but by several other witnesses, none of whom were particularly happy about coming forward and telling their stories.

This case does not come down to a "he said/he said" battle of credibility but even if it did, you should have an easy choice between the courage of the young man who came before you as a victim here and the silence of the defendant.

The victim here is not perfect and we never said that he would be. He is not smooth or slick and neither are the other members of his family. They are regular people, caught in a maelstrom of events, brought along by the current of the law to this time and place.

Like other victims of abuse, the young man at the center of this storm has seen his share of troubled times. And like other survivors of a fatal disease, he is angry about his fate and about his lot in life. Do you blame him? I don't.

Please don't confuse that anger with a lack of credibility or sincerity or even accuracy about his reminiscence of the events which brought us here. Please don't confuse his lack of polish and articulateness with a lack of candor.

As you heard from one of our experts, victims of abuse often react the way you saw this victim react in this courtroom. The defense wants you to believe that this is because the young man was acting on the witness stand. I suggest to you that a good actor, an earnest actor, would have come off as far smoother than the victim did in this case. Sometimes there is rawness in truth; sometimes there is conflict in pain.

This is not a case about the victim's past. It's a case about the defendant, and the conduct he engaged in and condoned. It's a case about a pattern of abuse and cover-up, of threats and intimidation, of the controlling of the innocent.

The evidence shows, overwhelmingly, that Michael Jackson lured to his majestic, fantastical Neverland this victim and other young boys similarly situated, and systematically wore down their defenses until they were vulnerable to abuse. Games. Liquor. Freedom from discipline and supervision. Sexual images and conversation. All designed to wear down defenses, and morals, and the reasonable expectations that society places in the minds of young people about what is right and what is wrong.

And then the defendant struck. Perverting the innocence of childhood, the defendant is a grown man who acted like a child in order to seduce his child victims. Remember the testimony of these young men. Remember how similar their stories are. Remember how closely the details track one another.

Remember these things and then ask yourself what is more reasonable, what is more likely: that they all are lying or that the defendant and his lackeys are. The lackeys! They are the men and women who implemented the defendant's conspiracy against the victim and his family in this case. The defense wants you to believe that their actions were merely part of a marketing and public relations campaign designed to limit the damage caused by Michael Jackson's own sick statements to the world.

But the evidence shows otherwise. The evidence shows a dark, malevolent pattern of control and manipulation of the victim and his family. It shows a pattern of threats and coercion. It shows panic on the part of the defendant and his entourage. In short, it shows what you would expect to see from someone who did something terribly wrong and wanted to hide that from the world.

Don't let the defendant off the hook simply because he was not involved in every detail of every act designed to further this goal. The law does not require such involvement in order to convict. But it does allow you to use plain old common sense.

You know the old saying that goes: where there is smoke, there is fire? We've shown you columns of smoke in this case. You've seen it billowing from the mouths of witness after witness, who came forward to tell you that the defendant had the motive, the opportunity and the evil intent to commit this awful crime. You've seen patterns of it from the defendant's past. From past and current employees there, you've seen it cloud the air over Neverland.

We don't have a videotape of the molestation. We almost never do. And we don't have a confession to it by the defendant. We almost never do.

What we do have is a compelling story of predator and prey. Judge for yourself who is who in this case. And when you do, send the defendant a message that no matter how rich or famous or powerful he is, and no matter how sick and tragic were the events of his own childhood, there is no justification or excuse for taking advantage of a young cancer victim and his family.

The defendant so far has led a life of fantasy. It's time for you to bring him back down to Earth and to teach him, finally, what is right and what is wrong.

What The Defense Should Say

The following is a summary of what lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau should - but probably won't - say during his closing argument in the Michael Jackson child molestation and conspiracy case.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: on behalf of Michael Jackson and our entire team, I know this trial hasn't been easy on you or your families but we are grateful for your service and for the attention you have paid over these long months of testimony.

The prosecution says that where there is smoke there is fire; that because Michael Jackson behaves differently than most when it comes to his relationships with his young friends it necessarily means that he has committed the crime of molestation and the cover-up that goes along with it.

But this trial isn't about the science of how a fire begins. It is not governed by the immutable laws of physics. It's a trial, and a story, about human beings: their strengths and frailties. Sometimes, like in this case, where there is smoke there is only smoke, and no fire, and no amount of fanning by prosecutors or their witnesses can turn that smoke ablaze.

Just because Michael Jackson has odd beliefs doesn't make him a child molester. Just because he sees the world differently than you or me doesn't make him a criminal.

It is not a crime to have a girlie magazine or a book about the human form in your home. It is not a crime to sleep in a bed with young boys. It is not a crime to try to enhance or repair your image to the outside world and it is not a crime to defend yourself in the court of public opinion amid scurrilous reports about your reputation.

Mr. Jackson may not have handled himself perfectly during his relationship with his accuser and the young man's family. But he is not a criminal.

It is your job to determine whether prosecutors have proven their case against Mr. Jackson beyond a reasonable doubt. There is reasonable doubt all over this case. It's in front of you like plates of food at a Sunday brunch. You are free to take a little here and a little there.

Reasonable doubt surrounds this trial and envelops it. It is everywhere you turn.

There is reasonable doubt in the words and the deeds of the accuser, who came to this witness stand and was unable to be sure even of how many times he says he was molested. He told his school principal that he had never been molested and then he said that he had. And no one has disputed the impression others gave of him as someone capable, even eager, to stick up for himself and not allow others to take advantage of him. There is reasonable doubt in the notion that such a young man would permit himself to be molested by anyone, much less Mr. Jackson.

There is reasonable doubt in the words and deeds of the accuser's mother, whose testimony during this trial is an unforgettable as it was scattered and bizarre. Prosecutors want you to buy into what they say is a pattern of molestation by Mr. Jackson but the evidence at trial overwhelming shows a different pattern; a pattern of predatory behavior on the part of the accuser's mother, who used her son as bait in the hopes of luring a suckerfish like Mr. Jackson.

This is a mother who left her children alone with Mr. Jackson at Neverland even after what she now says were clear indications that bad things were happening there. I ask you, as parents, or as people who know parents, does that make sense? If things were so bad at Neverland, would you have let your children return there, and stay there, over and over and over again?

Prosecutors ask you to use common sense. We make a similar request. Ask yourself how many parts of the accuser's story don't make sense. Each of these examples represents reasonable doubt and each should lead you to an acquittal.

There is reasonable doubt, too, from the other young men who came forward, men identified by prosecution witnesses, third-parties mostly, as other so-called "victims" of Mr. Jackson. But these young men testified, under oath, that they are not victims of Mr. Jackson.

So who should you believe? The young with direct knowledge of what went on, or what didn't go on, between themselves and Mr. Jackson? Or other people who say they might have seen this or that? It's like that old line: who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?

And even though it is not the case you are to judge beginning later today, the 1993 episode between Mr. Jackson and another accuser, an event that prosecutors made so much of during their presentation, is full of reasonable doubt.

Michael Jackson already has paid a terrible price for opening himself up to these sorts of extortion games. He knows that. And he regrets it. It's a problem that he has only himself to blame for. But just because he is in many ways innocent, and naïve and vulnerable, as you heard witnesses testify to during this case, doesn't mean that he is a criminal or that he engaged in the awful acts he stands accused of.

But this is more than a weak molestation case. It's a terrible conspiracy case, too. You heard hour upon hour of testimony about all sorts of things that were allegedly done and said to Jackson's accuser and his family.

And yet how many times did you hear that Mr. Jackson said those words or did those deeds? If there was a conspiracy here, absurd in itself, it was brought about by people who do not themselves face charges and who did not show up to testify in this case.

Remember those witnesses who testified about the distance between Mr. Jackson and these men? Remember Debbie Rowe when she testified about how Mr. Jackson was manipulated even by those closest around him? That's your conspiracy.

Some of you may have even asked yourselves, based upon how bad this conspiracy evidence was, why it even was included in this case. It was included so that prosecutors could convince the judge to allow into this case all those other phony-baloney molestation accusations you heard about, second- and third-hand. Don't let prosecutors get away with that trick.

Don't judge Michael Jackson harshly for his lifestyle. It's not perfect. It's not what you or I would choose. Don't judge him for his clothes or his fame or his face or the unusual way in which he views the world.

In America, it isn't a crime to be strange. And you folks have a unique opportunity to remind everyone that it never should be.

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SANTA MARIA, Calif., June 1, 2005 – Here are key moments from today's proceedings in the Michael Jackson child molestation trial.


Quote of the Day

"You know I read to my wife at night so she'll go to sleep. Am I having that effect here?"

– Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville joking with jury members as he read through detailed instructions they must follow in their deliberations.

When Is Bad News Good News for Michael Jackson?

Judge Melville will instruct the jury that it can find Jackson guilty of the lesser crime of furnishing alcohol to a minor, a misdemeanor, when considering the four counts against Jackson that he provided alcohol to assist in child molestation. Melville said of Jackson giving alcohol to a minor, "It seems to me that this is one charge that the evidence supports."

However, it may be good for Jackson because it gives the jury a lesser option. If jurors feel there is not enough to convict of a felony, but they don't want to let him go, this could be a slap-on-the-wrist charge.


Judge Melville sat in the witness box as he read instructions to the jury. He spent about one hour and 15 minutes reading the instructions. He told them that from now on they must leave their notebooks and instruction packets at court. Jury is not sequestered. After explaining application of the law and looking at the facts, he got down to the specifics of the case – reading each count and all 28 overt acts in the conspiracy count against Jackson. (He explained that they only need to find Jackson guilty of one act to convict on a particular count). He explained that they now have the option of finding Jackson guilty on the charge of furnishing alcohol to a minor if they don't agree on the more serious charge of administering an intoxicating agent with intent of committing a felony.

On past bad acts – judge said that jury should look at it to "determine if it tends to show a characterization, method plan or scheme" that is similar to facts of this case. But he said that even if you infer that the defendant had a disposition to commit sexual offenses it is "not sufficient in itself," only "one item to consider." Judge cautioned them about this saying that they must look at the evidence as a whole. In other words, if they don't believe the current charges they can't convict Jackson.

Melville also explained that some evidence was admitted for a limited purpose. The Martin Bashir documentary, for example, is not admitted for the truth of the matter with the exception of identified passages where Jackson makes statements directly related to this case.

Before reading the jury instructions, Melville asked the prosecution to outline counts 2 through 10 which are the molestation and alcohol counts. This was an interesting exchange because it spotlighted the lack of specificity regarding the date and time of the acts. The district attorney was pressed here and told the court he could only say that counts 2 and 3 referred to the instances when the accuser says he was molested.

Judge Melville told the jury he has never had a child molestation case where this issue didn't come up, saying, "Children don't give dates and times."

Up Next

Closing arguments begin at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow. The state will go first, followed by the defense. The prosecution will then give a final statement before the jury gets the case. Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen will close for the prosecution, Tom Mesereau will close for the defense. Judge Melville told the jury they would hear closings tomorrow and Friday. We don't know when they will get the case, but it's likely either late Friday or Monday. A big family turnout for Jackson is expected for the closing arguments.