Judge, Attorneys Debate Jackson Jury Rules

The judge in Michael Jackson's child molestation trial decided today (June 1) to let stand an instruction that would allow jurors to potentially find Jackson guilty of a misdemeanor count of giving al

The judge in Michael Jackson's child molestation trial decided today (June 1) to let stand an instruction that would allow jurors to potentially find Jackson guilty of a misdemeanor count of giving alcohol to a minor.

The decision came as the prosecution and defense argued for a second day over what should be included in the jury instructions, which were expected to be read to the panel later in the day. Closing arguments are set to begin tomorrow, and the jury is expected to get the case Friday.

Jackson's indictment alleges he gave alcohol to his accuser in order to commit felony molestation. But Judge Rodney S. Melville decided yesterday that the alcohol allegation could be a "lesser included offense," meaning jurors may consider convicting Jackson of simply providing alcohol to the boy.

Today, the defense revisited the issue and tried to get the instruction removed, but Melville did not change his mind.

Yesterday, Melville approved an instruction involving the TV documentary "Living With Michael Jackson," in which Jackson's future accuser appeared with the pop star and Jackson said he allowed children to sleep in his bed in an innocent, non-sexual way.

The judge said he was willing to tell jurors the video was "not offered for the truth of what is said except for certain identified passages." He said jurors would be told the rest of the video should be "considered hearsay." The passages the judge referred to were not specified in open court.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys also argued over what the jury should be told about judging Jackson based on allegations of past wrongdoing. Melville said he would tell the jurors they could consider alleged past acts if they "tend to show intent" on Jackson's part with regard to the crimes with which he is charged.

However, the jurors will have to decide whether the allegations of past acts -- which never resulted in any criminal charges -- were true.

"Evidence has been introduced for the purpose of showing the defendant committed crimes other than those for which he is on trial," the approved instructions read. "This evidence, if believed, may be considered by you only for the limited purpose of deciding if it tends to show a characteristic plan or scheme to commit acts."

Jackson, 46, is charged with molesting the then-13-year-old boy in February or March 2003, giving him wine and conspiring to hold his family captive to get them to rebut damaging aspects of the documentary.

Melville also agreed to tell the jurors they are entitled to reject the testimony of a witness who is willfully false in any material fact, but are not required to do so if they feel the witness is truthful in other regards.


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