Prosecutors in the Michael Jackson molestation trial today (April 15) showed jurors videotapes found in a private investigator's office to demonstrate that the pop star's associates had closely monito
Prosecutors in the Michael Jackson molestation trial today (April 15) showed jurors videotapes found in a private investigator's office to demonstrate that the pop star's associates had closely monitored the accuser's family while he, his mother and siblings were allegedly being held captive.
After prosecutors ended their friendly questioning of the accuser's mother, lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. began a fast-moving and contentious cross-examination, expected to be among the most heated episodes in the trial.
The video footage played by prosecutors was taken in mid-February 2003, when the family was allegedly being kept at Jackson's Neverland ranch because the pop star's associates wanted them to help rebut a damaging documentary. Prosecutors contend Jackson associates tried to prevent escape by threatening to harm people close to them.
The tapes, some of which had time stamps showing they were shot as early as 4:48 a.m., were taken from the office of Bradley Miller, an investigator hired by former Jackson attorney Mark Geragos.
One shows both the accuser's mother and Jackson associate Vince Amen, named by prosecutors as one of Jackson's unindicted alleged co-conspirators. In other sections of the footage, the mother identified her parents emerging from their home and her then boyfriend driving in a parking structure. The couple later married.
Jurors were also shown a recording of men cleaning out and removing furniture from the family's cramped East Los Angeles apartment. "Cucarachas," one of the men remarked, apparently referring to an insect problem.
Prosecutors contend Jackson associates took the family's items and kept them after the family left Neverland. The video was dated March 5, 2003, and the family left Neverland for the last time a week later.
In the combative cross-examination today, Mesereau repeatedly instructed the mother to respond succinctly and directly to his questions, but she launched into lengthy speeches in answer to each inquiry. When Mesereau played a recording of a conversation between the mother and one of Jackson's associates, she snapped: "This tape has been manipulated."
The witness also sparred with Mesereau when he asked whether Jackson associates took her to get a "body wax." "Incorrect," she said. "I had a leg wax." After another question, she turned to the jury and said, "His statement is inaccurate. He keeps saying body wax."
Mesereau asked her how it was possible that on the same day she claims she had to escape from Neverland, she was also taken to get a leg wax. She insisted that technically it was not the same day because she went for the leg wax in the afternoon and she didn't escape until 1 a.m. that night.
Confronted with questions about a report she made against her ex-husband accusing him of molesting her daughter, the woman refused to answer the question directly and instead turned to the jury again and said, "No, he's wrong."
But after a tug-of-war of words between the witness and lawyer, she agreed she had made such a report, but said it was "in the midst of all the other information about [the ex-husband]."
"You reported him for falsely imprisoning your family?" asked Mesereau. "They investigated him," she said.
Mesereau asked the woman if she was being truthful when she told Jackson associate Frank Tyson in a recorded phone call that she loves Tyson's family and said the only reason she left Neverland was because of the "German people," referring to two Jackson advisers who, like Tyson, are unindicted co-conspirators.
"I love you so much. You don't know how much I love your little brother and sister," she is heard telling Tyson. "We are all family." She acknowledged today that she only spent time with Tyson once, while on a trip to Florida, but said it was a case of "loving someone without knowing them."
Defense attorneys contend the family had a history of ingratiating themselves with celebrities by presuming close relationships with people they barely knew, as part of a plot to bilk the celebrities out of money.
Mesereau repeatedly has told jurors the woman ripped off celebrities and other targets by exploiting her son's fight with cancer, and also has accused her of filing a past lawsuit that Mesereau says was bogus. The family received a settlement of more than $150,000 after alleging they were roughed up by department store security guards.
Yesterday, the accuser's mother pledged that she had no plans to sue the singer. The statement came after two days on the stand in which she delivered a story of Jackson's associates shuttling her family from one location to the next to protect them from "killers." She said Jackson's people never told her who the alleged killers were.
She testified that she never had a chance to seek help, and that even if she did, she doubted police would believe her story. "Who could possibly believe this?" she said.
Jackson, 46, is charged with molesting a 13-year-old boy and keeping the youngster and his family captive.
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