The family accusing Michael Jackson of child molestation and other crimes is trying to pull “the biggest con of their careers,” the pop star’s lead lawyer told jurors today in the second day of closing arguments in the trial.
“They just need you to help them,” attorney Thomas Mesereau told the panel of eight women and four men.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it only takes one lie under oath to throw this case out of court,” Mesereau said to the jurors. “You can’t count all the lies under oath by (the family). How many does it take to let you know this case is a fraud?”
Mesereau resumed his argument shortly after his gaunt-looking client arrived at court after going to Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital in Solvang late yesterday or early today.
“He checked into the emergency department at our Solvang hospital, which is closest to his home, but he didn’t stay,” said hospital spokeswoman Janet O’Neill said. “It was sometime in the evening, but I don’t have exact details of the time.”
“Obviously I can’t talk about why he was there for privacy reasons,” she said.
A Jackson spokeswoman earlier denied he went to the hospital. Jackson’s case was twice previously interrupted by hospital visits, once for treatment of flu symptoms and another time for a back problem, which led to a threat of arrest from the judge if he didn’t get to court.
Jackson, appearing drawn, arrived on time today with parents Joe and Katherine Jackson, sisters Janet and LaToya, and brothers Jermaine, Tito and Randy, among other family members. Jackson clutched his mother’s arm as he walked in.
“Michael’s innocent!” came shouts from a crowd of about 75 people.
Fans, whose numbers dwindled to about 10 a day over the long weeks of trial, were back in larger numbers along with some prosecution supporters and political demonstrators taking advantage of the news coverage.
A total of 260 people entered a lottery for seats in the public area of the courtroom and 45 were chosen, giving them access for today’s session and whenever the verdict is returned.
The jury was expected to get the case sometime today, after the end of Mesereau’s argument and a rebuttal by Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen.
Yesterday, Zonen said Jackson brought his accuser Gavin Arvizo, then a 13-year-old cancer survivor, “into the world of the forbidden”.
He said Jackson lowered the boy’s inhibitions by giving him alcohol and showing him pornography before molesting him in the bedroom of the entertainer’s Neverland ranch.
When the defence resumed, Mesereau told the jury that prosecutors lacked a key piece of evidence against his client.
He said that in molestation cases police typically have the alleged victim make a “pretext” phone call to ask incriminating questions as police listen in.
But Mesereau said that Jackson’s accuser, despite a willingness to call numerous celebrities in the past, refused during a police interview to make such a call.
Mesereau also directly attacked the boy’s honesty, saying that a lawsuit in which his family received a settlement from JC Penney began when the boy was caught shoplifting. The boy and his mother were key players in the lawsuit, Mesereau said.
While prosecutors have tried to suggest that the boy’s father was responsible for the family’s cons, Mesereau said, the boy was like “a bull in the china shop”, constantly asking for money.
The mother was more sophisticated, Mesereau said, ingratiating herself with her targets.
“She gets to know you, she hugs you, she loves you,” Mesereau said. “Then she tells you a tale of woe and she gets money.”
Mesereau accused the boy of repeatedly lying under oath. He noted that the boy testified that both Jackson and his grandmother told him on different occasions that if men didn’t masturbate they might rape women.
“What are the odds of his grandmother and Michael telling him word for word that exact same statement,” Mesereau said.
He noted that in the JC Penney lawsuit the boy stated in a deposition that his parents never fought, but he and his brother, sister and mother would later say his father beat them for years.
“This kid’s lying at the age of what, nine? Ten?” Mesereau said, referring to the boy’s age at the time.
The boy was also dishonest when he testified in Jackson’s trial that he couldn’t remember if anyone had told him to lie in that lawsuit, Mesereau said.
Mesereau said the family has a history of making abuse allegations. “These kids are being raised to make allegations,” Mesereau said.
Yesterday, Mesereau said that the prosecution’s arguments portraying Jackson as a hard-drinking, porn-collecting pedophile were part of an effort to “dirty up” the pop star because they couldn’t prove their case that he is guilty of child molestation.
Prosecutors, Mesereau said, also engaged in a “nasty attempt, a barbaric attempt” to attack Jackson personally by bringing up his financial problems, alcohol consumption, collection of adult magazines and “sagging music career”.
The 46-year-old entertainer is charged with molesting the boy in 2003, plying him with wine and conspiring to hold his family captive to get them to rebut the documentary Living With Michael Jackson.
Jackson denies all charges.
In the documentary, Jackson holds hands with the boy and says he allows children into his bed for innocent, non-sexual sleep-overs.