Michael Jackson’s defense team was back to its full complement today (March 24) with the return of a co-counsel who fell ill earlier this week and was hospitalized.
Attorney Brian Oxman, who had been taken from court to a hospital on Wednesday, returned to work after being treated for what was described as right lung pneumonia. Resumption of testimony in Jackson’s child molestation trial focused on evidence labeling and handling.
Yesterday, jurors again saw sexually explicit images from Jackson’s collection of adult magazines, this time so they could see where fingerprints were found on the pages.
The images were displayed after a sheriff’s technician testified that she found a fingerprint from the brother of Jackson’s accuser in one of the adult magazines seized from Jackson’s home.
Prosecutors are presenting testimony on fingerprint evidence to support the boys’ accounts that the pop star showed them sexually explicit magazines at his Neverland ranch.
Prosecutors did not immediately identify the prints found on the magazine covers and pages, which were displayed on a large screen. Defense attorneys objected to the graphic images being shown. Jurors have already seen dozens of magazines seized from Jackson’s compound.
“These are graphic images with fingerprints we will show are particularly relevant to this case,” said Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss in arguing to show the material.
Jackson, who sat unmoving and staring straight ahead through the testimony, stopped outside court as he left and said, “Still very much in pain — my back and my side.”
Defense attorney Robert Sanger tried to undermine the reliability of the fingerprinting because the magazines were not tested until months after they were seized, and then only after some were used in grand jury hearings in which the defense said the accuser could have handled them.
Technician Lisa Hemman said fingerprint analysis wasn’t done immediately because authorities wanted to preserve any DNA, which could be destroyed by fingerprint testing. Hemman also said the brother’s fingerprint was found on a page of a magazine called Finally Legal.
She testified that the print was initially ruled inconclusive by her and her co-examiner in September and October of 2004, but that it was re-examined and ruled conclusive in a report filed in January. She said she had suspected the fingerprint belonged to the accuser’s brother, but ruled it inconclusive out of caution.
“If you don’t want to rush a job you make it inconclusive,” she said. Hemman said the process involved comparing hundreds of fingerprints to those of three people. She did not name the three, who presumably were the accuser, his brother and Jackson.
Hemman also testified that the fingerprint of another minor was found but she did not identify that person. On cross-examination, Sanger said that fingerprint analysis is “your subjective opinion of the evidence” and the witness agreed.
Another witness, Charlene Marie of the California Department of Justice crime lab, testified she received 15 items — magazines and pages — from Hemman to analyze for biological substances and found none. There was no immediate testimony about a magazine that prosecutors said had prints from both the accuser and Jackson.
At the close of Thursday’s testimony, prosecutors announced that comedian George Lopez would testify Monday. Lopez was one of several comedians who befriended and helped the boy’s family when the boy was battling cancer.
Jackson’s attorneys received permission from the judge last week to question witnesses about an incident in which the boy and his father allegedly sought $300 from Lopez after claiming the boy had left that amount in a wallet left at Lopez’s house.
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