The judge in the Michael Jackson child abuse trial kept a graphic piece of evidence out of the sight of jurors when he barred prosecutors yesterday from showing photographs of the pop star’s genitals.
In another ruling, the judge said prosecutors can play a videotape of Jackson's 13-year-old accuser's original police interview in 2003 in a bid to show that the boy’s story has been consistent.
Defence lawyers said that if the prosecution shows the tape, the defence would want to call the boy back for questioning. They also may call his mother.
The attempt to admit the genitalia photographs stems from a 1993 molestation investigation of Jackson. When prosecutors were trying to gather evidence against the singer back then, they served a subpoena at his home that allowed them to photograph his genitalia.
They then had the accuser draw a picture of what he thought the genitalia looked like. Prosecutors claimed the picture contained blemish that was unique to Jackson’s anatomy.
Arguing for use of the pictures, Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen said the prosecution wanted to show jurors a child’s description “of a unique feature of his (Jackson’s) anatomy.” He said it would show that Jackson’s relationships with boys were “not casual”.
But defence attorney Robert Sanger called the photographs an “unfair surprise” and said prosecutors had “not even hinted that they were going to try this tactic in advance”. He cited a US Supreme Court decision which says a judge is supposed to avoid dramatic evidence at the end of a trial that could be prejudicial.
“This is really a stretch to come up with any kind of reason to bring this in as evidence,” Sanger said, arguing that it would be “very shocking” for the jury to see.
The boy in the 1993 investigation and his family eventually received a multimillion-dollar settlement from Jackson and no charges were filed. That boy is now a young man and has been unavailable to serve as a witness in Jackson’s trial.
Jackson, 46, is charged with molesting his 13-year-old accuser in February or Marc 2003, giving him wine and conspiring to hold his family captive to get them to rebut a documentary in which the boy appeared with Jackson as the entertainer said he let children into his bed but it was non-sexual.
The defence wrapped up its case on Wednesday, and the trial is now in the rebuttal phase. The case had been expected to go to the jury next week, but that became uncertain with the possibility of extensive new testimony.