Jackson Defense Challenges Evidence Seizure At Neverland Ranch
POSTED: 10:56 am PDT September 16, 2004
SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- Michael Jackson's defense attorneys on Thursday showed a judge videotapes of the search of the singer's Neverland Ranch to press their claim that law enforcement officials improperly took evidence while building a molestation case against the pop star.
Defense attorneys, claiming authorities overstepped their bounds, are trying to keep some of the items seized from Jackson's home and a private investigator's office from being admitted as evidence in the case, which is scheduled for trial Jan. 31.
In one scene videotaped by authorities, investigators walked around the ranch as carnival music from the property's many amusement rides and exhibits played in the background.
At one point in the footage investigators entered a video library where the shelves were stocked with films. At another point they entered a museum filled with costumed mannequins.
Defense attorney Robert Sanger questioned Santa Barbara County sheriff's Sgt. Ross Ruth about his reasons for entering an office that one ranch employee had identified as Jackson's.
Ruth testified he entered the office without believing it was the singer's. He said he did not believe the employee, a woman named Maria in a maid's uniform, because she gave evasive answers.
At one point on a videotape she flicked a light switch. Ruth said he was suspicious when she flicked the switch because there didn't seem to be any reason to do so.
Ruth said he suspected she might be activating cameras, but Judge Rodney S. Melville struck that testimony from the record, saying it was speculative.
On Friday, the mother of the boy Jackson is charged with molesting will take the stand and face questions about whether she knew private investigator Bradley Miller was working for former Jackson attorney Mark Geragos when his office was searched.
Authorities say Jackson indicated he will be in court when the boy's mother testifies.
Jackson, 46, has pleaded not guilty to child molestation, conspiracy and administering an intoxicating agent, alcohol.
Reporters got a rare look at the defense's strategy late Monday when Sanger accidentally sent an e-mail to an attorney for news agencies containing a motion he planned to file under seal.
The motion also included the name of the accuser's mother -- which is known to reporters, though prosecutors publicly call her "Jane Doe" -- as well as arguments against a prosecution effort to limit her testimony.
Defense attorneys say the mother and prosecutors knew or should have known that Miller worked for Geragos and that his office should not have been searched because of the attorney-client privilege of confidentiality.
The mother's "communications with law enforcement regarding Mr. Miller is a critical issue in the hearings before this court. She met with Mr. Miller and later provided an account of those meetings to the government," Sanger said in the motion. "The prosecution concedes that (she) was expressly informed that Mr. Miller worked for Mr. Geragos."