Friday, March 18, 2005

MJ Updates -- Day 13 and 14

The prosecution continues to move through their case at a pretty good clip. Weds and Thursday featured more law enforcement personnel as well as some of Jackson's personal staff.

On Weds: Lead sheriff's investigator Sgt. Steve Robel continued his testimonies saying the boy accusing the singer of child molestation shed tears when first describing the alleged acts of molestation. His testimony opened up quite a bit of questioning and cross examination on the time line of the molestations, how many occurred and when.

Next, sheriff's detective Paul Zelis testified about what materials had been found in the searches at Jackson's estate. These materials included adult books, magazines, and DVDs some published after March 2003, the date the alledged molestations took place. Many of these materials were found in a search at Jackson's estate and some were found in two locked briefcases. These materials were viewed by the jury via a large video screen. (You'll recall that the judge has said prosecutors are not allowed to refer to these materials as "porn" or "pornographic". The defense clarified that these books, magazines, and DVDs are all available for legal sale and purchase. Also significant from Zelis' testimony:

Sheriff's Det. Paul Zelis testified Wednesday that he found at least one adult magazine in Jackson's bedroom nightstand. A photograph of the drawer shown to jurors included the adult magazine with two pictures of young children next to them. One showed two babies in diapers, another a shirtless toddler in a wash basin with a puppy. A picture of Jackson's accuser and his brother and sister was also found in the nightstand drawer, Zelis testified. Prosecutors have said at least one adult magazine seized at Neverland features the fingerprints of both Jackson and his accuser. But Zelis admitted to Jackson defense attorney Robert Sanger that one batch of adult magazines seized from Neverland were not checked for prints until they were presented at a grand jury hearing convened in March and April 2004, during which the boy testified. Zelis said he was uncertain if the boy handled the magazines during the grand jury hearing.


On Thurs: LA weatherman Fritz Coleman testified he gave Christmas gifts to the family and had no concerns that it was a scam. He and his staff had identified them as a needy family and felt the had significant financial problems. He also performed a stand-up comedy routine at a benefit for the boy when he was diagnosed with cancer. Under cross-ex, though, he also testified they never solicited him for money (as the defense has said the family did to other stars such as Jay Leno.) (Somewhat surprisingly. The defense had apparently expected otherwise.)

Kiki Fournier, who served as housekeeper at Neverland from 1991-2003 testified she had seen children drunk at the dinner table with Jackson. She also testified that she had never personally seen Jackson give alcohol to children and that she didn't specifically remember the accuser. She said children were often out of control in the permissive environment and their behavior was "destructive". On cross examination, she testified the guest quarters had been "trashed" by the accuser and his brother during their stay in Feb/March 2003. "I believe that it was he and his brother staying there." She also testified that Jackson lavished attention on certain boys at Neverland and that it wasn't uncommon for those boys to stay in MJ's bedroom. She identified Macaulay Culkin as one of these children. (Defense had at one point said it would call Culkin to testify nothing had ever happened with Jackson. Culkin has a substance abuse issue and may currently be in rehab after his recent arrest in Oklahoma City.)

Today (Friday), the jury and Jackson are dismissed as Judge Melville will hold several routine hearings related to the case. Also Wednesday, Melville said a hearing about whether past allegations of child abuse against Jackson are admissible at trial may occur next week.

Since 1993, Jackson has made two multi-million dollar financial settlements with two boys after they accused him of sexual misconduct. The judge earlier ruled that prosecutors had to prove their current case before he would decide whether to permit these alleged past bad acts.
This is one of the first references I've seen to the 2nd settlement, but I expect we'll be seeing more about it in coming weeks, especially if Melville allows it into evidence.

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