April 27, 2005
SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Michael Jackson's attorneys asked for a mistrial in his child molestation case Wednesday but were turned down by the judge during a dispute over testimony about the TV documentary that led to the pop star's prosecution.
The issue erupted during the testimony of former Jackson videographer Hamid Moslehi, who said that during the taping of "Living With Michael Jackson," he used his own camera to record the material as a backup for Jackson.
The boy now accusing Jackson of molestation appeared with Jackson in the documentary, which showed the pop star saying that he allowed children to sleep in his bed but that it was nonsexual.
Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy in February or March 2003, giving the boy alcohol and conspiring to hold the boy's family captive to get them to rebut the documentary.
Under prosecution questioning, Moslehi said that when he saw the documentary prepared by British journalist Martin Bashir, he realized it did not include everything.
"The way it was edited, Mr. Jackson sounded different than if they had continued another two or three seconds of that statement," he testified.
Judge Rodney S. Melville interrupted the questioning, warning prosecutor Gordon Auchincloss that he was delving into an area the judge had ruled off-limits.
Defense attorney Robert Sanger asked for a mistrial, suggesting that the prosecutor asked the questions to plant ideas in the jurors' minds.
"He wanted them to hear about the issue of sleeping with boys," Sanger said.
Prosecutors were expected to soon call Jackson's ex-wife Debbie Rowe, who is in a family court battle with the pop star over visitation of their two children. She is expected to say that a video in which she praised Jackson was scripted.
Earlier, Moslehi testified about his role in recording the so-called rebuttal video made after the TV documentary. The mother of the accuser testified previously that she was intimidated and that the rebuttal video was entirely scripted.
But Moslehi said the accuser, his brother and sister were at his house for two or three hours before the taping began and he did not see them rehearsing. He said that the mother was there for about an hour before the taping and that he did not see her reading, rehearsing or being coached.
He also said that the mother confided in him at times but that she never told him that she was being falsely imprisoned, that she was receiving death threats, that Jackson had given her children alcohol or that the singer improperly touched her son. He said she also never asked him to call police.