The defense rested today (May 25) in Michael Jackson's molestation trial, wrapping up a succinct presentation that portrayed the accuser as a cunning schemer and his mother as a shakedown artist. Jack
The defense rested today (May 25) in Michael Jackson's molestation trial without testimony from the pop star, wrapping up a succinct, celebrity-studded presentation that portrayed the accuser as a cunning schemer and his mother as a shakedown artist.
Jackson was the victim of false charges that surfaced once the mother realized she was being weaned from a lavish lifestyle the singer had financed, defense lawyers claimed. It was a picture painted by witnesses who testified that the mother was a grifter who made a career of hitting up celebrities for money and defrauding others.
"Your honor, the defense rests," lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. told Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville at late morning.
Jackson didn't take the stand, as defense lawyers had hinted at the trial's start, and only a few of the celebrities who might have been called to testify ended up in court. Those headliners including comedians Jay Leno and Chris Tucker, but absent were others listed as potential witnesses, including Elizabeth Taylor, Stevie Wonder and Kobe Bryant.
Other witnesses included actor Macaulay Culkin and two other young men who testified that, contrary to prosecution claims, Jackson never behaved inappropriately when they stayed at his Neverland ranch home as children.
Prosecutors had cast Jackson as a serial pedophile with a history of fondling boys, including the then-13-year-old cancer survivor in February or March 2003 at Neverland. Jackson also is charged with giving the boy 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 says he let children into his bed for innocent sleepovers.
The defense took three weeks to attack a case prosecutors spent nearly 10 weeks building. Initially, the defense case was projected to last up to eight weeks.
Mesereau rested following testimony from Tucker that the accuser was unusually sophisticated and "cunning" as he sought money from the comedian. Prosecutors immediately began their rebuttal and jurors could get the case as early as mid-next week.
The defense case worked through witnesses, 50 in all, who portrayed the boy's mother as a cheat who exploited her son's cancer for money and who lived on Jackson's tab during the time she claimed she was held captive.
Tiday, Tucker said his suspicions about the family set in when the family came to the set of a movie he was filming in Las Vegas and refused to leave. He said he paid for their hotel and expenses but after several weeks they were still there.
"He was really smart and he was cunning at times," said Tucker of the accuser. "I was getting nervous," he said. "I thought, 'I need to watch myself,' because I'm high-profile and sometimes when people see what you've got they try to take advantage of you. I had to pull back."
Leno testified he became suspicious of Jackson's accuser after he received several voice mail messages in which the boy gushingly expressed his admiration for "The Tonight Show" host.
"I'm not Batman," Leno quipped, suggesting he found it odd a teenager would be such a fan of a middle-aged comedian. Leno said he told a friend the boy's calls sounded "scripted."
The mother's former sister-in-law tearfully recounted trying to organize a blood drive on the boy's behalf, only to be cursed by his mother, who told her she needed money, not blood. A Los Angeles County employee testified that by failing to disclose some of her income, her welfare application was fraudulent.
Without ever taking the stand, Jackson remained the star of the defense case. He spoke to jurors through a nearly three-hour videotape that included in scenes left out of the controversial documentary "Living With Michael Jackson" in which the singer mentioned sleeping with children.
In the defense video, Jackson said his feelings for children were innocent and loving. "I haven't been betrayed or deceived by children," he said at one point. "Adults have let me down."
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