Defense Indicates Michael Jackson Won't Testify
POSTED: 7:59 am PDT May 24, 2005
UPDATED: 3:30 pm PDT May 24, 2005
SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- Michael Jackson's attorneys put on star-studded testimony Tuesday by calling Jay Leno and comic actor Chris Tucker to the stand, then told the court that the "Rush Hour" star will be their last witness, indicating Jackson will not testify.
Jackson refused to comment on his way out of the courthouse whether he made the final decision not to take the stand. He smiled with palms pressed together and said he couldn't comment.
Tucker remained on the stand at the end of the day and was scheduled to undergo final questioning on Wednesday. At the prompting of Judge Rodney S. Melville, lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. said, "This is the last witness."
The chances of the pop star testifying in his own defense against child molestation charges had been remote from the outset but were fueled by Mesereau's comment in opening statements to the jury that they would hear from Jackson on certain issues.
But the jury did hear a great deal from Jackson during a nearly three-hour video interview which was played earlier this month and became virtual testimony. In the tape, he said of children: "I haven't been betrayed or deceived by children. Adults have let me down."
Taking the stand would have subjected Jackson to rigorous cross-examination by prosecutors.
Leno kicked off the last full day of defense testimony, saying the singer's accuser was overly effusive and sounded scripted in unsolicited phone calls.
Initially serious and understated on the witness stand, Leno warmed up during his testimony and finished with a lighthearted promo: "We have Renee Zellweger on the show tonight."
"I'm not Bat Man," Leno said to laughter as he explained why he thought it odd that a little boy would be calling comedian in his mid- 50s to tell him he was his hero.
The defense called the "Tonight Show" host to support its claim that the boy's family schemed to get money from celebrities and Jackson became a target. The boy's calls to Leno were in a period when the boy had cancer and Hollywood comics had taken an interest in helping the family.
Leno, who on Monday night's show joked that a heat wave had him "sweating like a Cub Scout" at Jackson's Neverland Ranch, confirmed that he grew suspicious when he began receiving voice mail messages from the boy in 2000.
Leno said the boy left so many messages that he finally approached comedian Louise Palanker, a friend who had become acquainted with the boy.
"I said, 'What's the story here? This doesn't sound like a 12-year-old. This seems a little scripted,"' Leno testified.
He said Palanker told him the boy wanted to be a comedian and writes out everything he says.
The messages continued, he said, and "it was kind of the same call over and over again."
Leno, who testified he makes many calls to ill children, at one point did an imitation of how ill children speak to him, mumbling rather than giving the kind of forceful, adult presentation that he said he heard from Jackson's accuser.
But Leno said the boy never asked for money and he never gave any, but did send "Tonight Show" memorabilia and a picture. He said Palanker told him the boy put the picture over his bed.
The defense had said Leno was so concerned about the boy's calls that he called police and reported that he thought the family was looking for a "mark." But Leno said it was police who contacted him, although it was unclear why or when that happened.
On questioning by Mesereau, Leno recalled the police interview and explained his concern with the boy's calls.
"It sounded suspicious with a young person so overly effusive. It just didn't click with me," he said.
He said he probably did tell police he believed the family was looking for money.
Leno added, "In the business I'm in you hear from a lot of crazy people and I'm reluctant to follow up. But when it's a child I do follow up."
He said he was usually very accessible to children and children's charities but joked that after his testimony "the phones will be ringing" and he probably won't be as accessible.
"Thank you for that," he joked to Mesereau. "Up until a few minutes ago they could reach me."
Mesereau also asked Leno if he ever receives false pleas for help and Leno said he does.
"Sometimes you get a call like, 'I'm a farmer, our tractor's broken, our crops aren't doing well,' and the return address is Brooklyn, New York," Leno said.
Tucker, sidekick to Jackie Chan in the "Rush Hour" movies, testified that he met the accuser at a benefit after the boy's father introduced himself at the Laugh Factory club in Hollywood and asked him to take part.
Tucker said that a few days after the benefit the boy told him it hadn't made any money, so he wired "probably $1,500 or more" to a foundation for the family.
He was expected to finish testifying about his dealings with the family on Wednesday, allowing the prosecution to begin a rebuttal case project to last into Thursday.
Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting the boy in February or March 2003, giving him alcohol and conspiring to hold his family captive to get them to rebut a documentary in which the boy appeared with Jackson as the entertainer said he let children into his bed for non- sexual sleepovers.
The defense also called Mary Holzer, a paralegal at a law firm that handled a lawsuit by the accuser's family that led to a $152,000 settlement from J.C. Penney. The suit claimed the family was abused by guards after the accuser left a store with clothes that hadn't been purchased.
Holzer said the mother at one point told her the injuries she claimed to have received from the guards were inflicted by her then- husband on the night of the store incident. She said she told the mother she couldn't lie and that the mother responded with a threat.
"She told me that (her husband's) brother ... is in the Mexican mafia ... and that she knows where I live and they would come and kill me and my 9-year-old daughter," Holzer said.
Holzer said that once when she was taking the mother to a doctor's appointment related to the suit the mother "threw herself down on the ground, started kicking and screaming that the doctor was the devil, the nurse was the devil and they were out to get her."
When the mother testified, she said Holzer was dishonest and was a huge Michael Jackson fan.
Holzer testified that the mother called her three or four months ago.
"She said she wanted to be friends," Holzer said. "I said I was very busy. She told me she'd like to get together and have a girls' weekend.
"Did she say anything about this case?" asked Mesereau.
"She proceeded to tell me that Michael Jackson was no longer her savior. He was now the devil," she said.
Source: http://www.nbc4.tv/news/4524469/detail. ... 42005&ts=H