March 24, 2005
SANTA MARIA, Calif. - A Secret Service forensic scientist testified in Michael Jackson's child molestation trial Thursday about fingerprinting techniques to lay the groundwork for prosecution testimony about prints found on adult magazines seized at the pop star's Neverland ranch.
The expert, Antonio Cantu, did not test any of the magazines but was called to explain methodology.
The prosecution has said that one magazine had fingerprints from Jackson and his accuser. The defense has argued the magazine wasn't fingerprinted until after grand jury hearings in March and April 2004 when the accuser may have had an opportunity to touch it.
Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. has also said that Jackson once caught the boy looking at the magazines and took them away, which also could have left both sets of fingerprints.
On Wednesday, prosecutors were barred from introducing sexually explicit material found on computers in Jackson's bedroom, but showed jurors a barrage of adult magazines that they said were seized from the singer's home.
Jurors saw about 75 images, including dozens of photographs from magazines like Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler, and a few covers of adult videos or DVDs. About 15 of the images were from publications like Barely Legal that feature women who have recently turned 18.
Prosecutors contend Jackson's accuser and his brother saw magazines similar to the ones shown while staying at Neverland, but have not yet presented any evidence that they saw the images presented in court. None of the publications bore the DNA of the boy's family.
Though Jackson has twice been late to court in the last week with what he said was severe back pain, his attorney was the one with health problems Wednesday. Brian Oxman, one of Jackson's lawyers, left court in an ambulance because of what his wife said was pneumonia.
Oxman was taken from the courthouse by ambulance to Marian Medical Center, where hospital officials said he was stable and resting comfortably.
In arguing for the computer evidence, the prosecution said technicians isolated material on three computers at Jackson's Neverland ranch that included teen-themed adult Web sites and information about adopting children.
Prosecutor Gordon Auchincloss said he felt the adoption sites related to Jackson's statements in a documentary that he was interested in adopting children.
"We intend to use this evidence to show ... Michael Jackson knows how to use a computer ... that he knows how to access adult materials on Internet sites," he said.
Defense attorney Robert Sanger called the material prejudicial and noted all of it was dated either two years before Jackson met his accuser or several months after his involvement with the child and his family had ended.
Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old cancer patient at Neverland in February or March 2003. He also is accused of conspiring to hold the boy's family captive to get them to make a video rebutting the 2003 documentary in which he appeared with the boy and said he let children sleep in his bed, though it was innocent and non-sexual.
Sanger said there was no proof Jackson was the person who accessed the Web sites and suggested much of the material was "cached," or automatically saved by the computers, from material that popped up in e-mail when others used the computers.