April 29, 2005
SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Prosecutors in Michael Jackson's child molestation trial may use as evidence two books seized from the pop star's bedroom in 1993 that feature pictures of nude boys, the judge ruled Friday.
The books were taken during a previous molestation investigation involving a boy who received a multimillion-dollar settlement from Jackson in 1994. That boy did not cooperate with investigators and no charges were filed.
Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville allowed the books to be used despite defense objections.
The prosecutors' request came as they neared the end of their presentation to jurors. They planned to call three witnesses Friday and expect to rest their case Tuesday.
Prosecutors want to introduce the books to support allegations that Jackson has a pattern of molesting boys.
Jackson is accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy in 2003, giving him alcohol and conspiring to hold the accuser's family captive to get them to rebut a documentary in which the boy appeared and Jackson said he let children sleep in his bed in a platonic way.
Prosecutor Ron Zonen said one book was about 90 percent pictures of nude boys and the other about 10 percent. One was titled "Boys Will Be Boys."
Defense attorney Robert Sanger called the books irrelevant to the current case and said they would unfairly prejudice the jury.
"It's just plain stale to bring in something from that far back," Sanger said.
Sanger said prosecutors have pored through Jackson's library of thousands of volumes and tried to present jurors "any book that might have a page or two or five or 10 of people who are not fully clothed."
Sanger also noted that one of the books contained an inscription written by Jackson in which he noted the happy expressions on the faces of the boys.
"This is the life I never had. This is the life I want for my children," the inscription said.
The other book included an inscription from a fan: "XXXOOO, Rhonda."
Thursday's testimony brought a setback for prosecutors when Jackson's ex-wife Deborah Rowe, the mother of two his children, testified that the singer was an easily manipulated victim of "opportunistic vultures" in his inner circle who wanted to make millions from his troubles.
Rowe said she believed a group of men named as Jackson's unindicted co-conspirators were actually conspiring against Jackson.
Prosecutors called Rowe to support their contention that Jackson's alleged co-conspirators scripted a videotaped interview in which she defended Jackson, just as they had allegedly scripted an interview in which the family rebutted the "Living With Michael Jackson" documentary.
But when Rowe took the stand Wednesday and Thursday, she said there was no script and that she never looked at a list of questions in advance because she wanted her words to be spontaneous.
Asked by Zonen if she knew what she was supposed to say on camera about Jackson, she used such terms as "a wonderful person," "a great father," and "generous and caring."