May 26, 2005
SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The judge in Michael Jackson's trial on Thursday cleared the way for another possible courtroom face-off between the singer and the boy accusing him of molestation.
The day after the defense rested, Judge Rodney S. Melville agreed to prosecutors' request that during their rebuttal case they be allowed to show the jury a videotape of a July 2003 law enforcement interview of the boy to show that his story has been consistent.
The defense said they would then want to question the boy about the tape during the defense rebuttal.
Defense attorneys said they may also want to question the boy's mother; a psychologist who interviewed the boy, Stan J. Katz; and Larry Feldman, the attorney who sent him to the psychologist.
Defense attorneys did not say they would necessarily call all of those witnesses but said they wanted them available.
The judge said the witnesses, who all testified earlier in the trial, should be alerted.
The judge rejected a request from the prosecution to introduce photographs taken of Jackson's genitalia when a boy accused him of molestation in 1993. The pictures were supposed to show identifying markings.
The 1993 allegations never led to criminal charges. Jackson made a multimillion-dollar settlement with that boy.
The prosecution rebuttal began Wednesday after the defense rested its case without putting Jackson on the stand.
Jackson, 46, is charged with molesting the cancer survivor in February or March 2003. The pop star is also accused of giving the boy alcohol and conspiring to hold his family captive to get them to rebut a documentary in which the teenager appeared with Jackson as the entertainer said he let children into his bed for innocent sleepovers at his Neverland Ranch.
Jurors had been expected to get the case as early as next week after the rebuttal presentations and closing arguments, but that became uncertain with the potential for extensive new testimony.
Defense attorney Robert Sanger argued Wednesday that if prosecutors wanted to show the tape they should have done so when they were presenting their case against Jackson. They only want to show it now, he said, to try to end the trial with a dramatic flourish.
"It's a way to have (the boy) come back and testify without cross-examination in front of the jury," Sanger said.
The defense rested without testimony from Jackson, wrapping up a three-week, celebrity-studded defense presentation that portrayed Jackson's accuser as a cunning schemer and his mother as a mentally disturbed shakedown artist.
Defense attorneys called witnesses that painted their client as the victim of false charges that surfaced only when the boy's mother realized she was being ousted from a lavish lifestyle the singer had financed. They portrayed the mother as a welfare cheat who preyed on gullible celebrities for money.