March 3, 2005
SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Jurors in the Michael Jackson case got their first look Thursday at the singer's master bedroom suite where he allegedly molested a 13-year-old boy.
The panel was shown videotape from a Nov. 18, 2003, raid of Jackson's Neverland ranch that included shots of his cluttered bedroom, but none of the sexually explicit magazines that Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas Sneddon has said were found in the suite.
The video, shot by Sheriff's Department photographer Albert Lafferty, showed a sparkling bedspread, pictures of Marilyn Monroe and Shirley Temple, several TVs and stacks of videos.
Two rooms that investigators called the "doll room" and the "toy room" were filled with dolls, mannequins and figurines of such characters as Bat Man, Superman and C-3PO, Boba Fett and R2-D2 from "Star Wars."
The close-up look into the location of the alleged crime came a day after a prosecution witness said under cross-examination she believed some of the alleged co-conspirators in a scheme against his accuser's family may actually have been plotting against Jackson.
Ann Marie Kite, hired in 2003 to help rehabilitate Jackson's image after the airing of a damaging documentary, testified Wednesday that his associates hoped to portray the accuser's mother as a "crack whore."
Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a now-15-year-old cancer survivor at his Neverland ranch in 2003, giving him alcohol and conspiring to hold the boy's family captive after the program aired.
The prosecution, which called Kite, has alleged that Jackson's team wanted help with a public rebuttal to the British documentary, in which Jackson said he allowed young boys to sleep in his bed.
In an aggressive cross-examination by defense lawyer Thomas Mesereau Jr., Kite also said she was concerned during her employment that Jackson was a victim of people in his inner circle who either botched his public relations or deliberately tried to damage his reputation.
She said she believed one of the singer's five alleged co-conspirators in the case, Ronald Konitzer, may have been trying to wrest away ownership of a valuable music catalogue that includes The Beatles' songs. None of the alleged co-conspirators has been indicted.
Kite said she became alarmed when Jackson associate Marc Schaffel told her that the alleged molestation victim had left Neverland in the middle of the night with his family on Feb. 13, 2003, a week after the documentary "Living With Michael Jackson" aired.
She said Schaffel, another alleged co-conspirator who has not been indicted, told her the family had been returned to the ranch and "the situation had been contained."
She said she then contacted her ex-boyfriend, David LeGrand, a lawyer for Jackson who had hired her. "I said, 'Don't make me believe that these people were hunted down like dogs and brought back to the ranch,'" she said.
She said he told her, "I can't discuss this right now."
Kite said LeGrand told her several days later that the family would not be a problem. "He said that they no longer had to worry about (the mother) because they had her on tape and they were going to make her look like a crack whore," she said.
The conversation was apparently a reference to a videotaped statement the boys' family made on Feb. 19 and 20, 2003, in which they praised Jackson.
Defense attorneys say the family was free to leave.
Kite said she was hired on Feb. 9, 2003, six days after the documentary aired, and was terminated on Feb. 15 with no reason given. A former Jackson lawyer, Mark Geragos, later asked her to sign a confidentiality agreement but she refused because she believed "it was designed to shut me up," the witness said.