Lawyers in the Michael Jackson child molestation trial argued today over whether some documents used in the prosecution case had been sufficiently authenticated to be admitted into evidence.
The discussion followed District Attorney Tom Sneddon’s announcement yesterday that the prosecution was resting its case, pending Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville’s decisions on admitting various items.
The debate at the Santa Maria court in California focused on 22 documents or other items, including an address book, legal agreements, emails, financial records, and a copy of a $1m (€772,200) cheque cashed by a Jackson associate, Marc Schaffel, who is in a group of men named by prosecutors as unindicted co-conspirators in the case.
The judge said yesterday that the prosecution might be allowed to reopen its case depending on his decisions on whether to formally admit various items into evidence.
Also to be heard today was a defence motion, filed immediately after the prosecution rested, asking that Jackson be acquitted on grounds that prosecutors hadn’t proven the child molestation and conspiracy case.
Defence lawyers typically file such motions when the prosecution rests, and they rarely succeed.
The prosecution’s case included an often mesmerising cast of more than 80 witnesses, but also long days of dry testimony about phone records, how a November 18, 2003 search of Jackson’s Neverland ranch was conducted, and how fingerprints are taken.
Prosecutors set out to prove that in 2003 Jackson fondled a 13-year-old cancer survivor, plied him with alcohol, and arranged to detain him and his family so they would rebut a damaging documentary about the singer.
“Living With Michael Jackson” pictured the boy side-by-side with Jackson, who said he let children sleep in his bed but dismissed the notion that the practice had any sexual meaning.
Jackson was accused of molesting the boy at least 14 days after the programme aired in the US, as he and associates allegedly panicked over its implications. Jackson denies all charges.
Jackson remained the trial’s star. Even his absence, twice caused by ailments, created a scene – and once required him to rush to court in pyjamas, under threat of arrest by the judge.
After that Jackson was on time and calmly listened to testimony in a rainbow of suits with brocade waistcoats and matching armbands.
Some of the prosecution’s own witnesses wound up benefiting the defence, including Jackson’s ex-wife Deborah Rowe, who cast him as a victim and praised his parenting skills.