Star's molestation case goes to jury

Final arguments finished

deliberation to resume Monday in Jackson trial

June 04, 2005|By Stuart Pfeiffer and Michael Muskal | Stuart Pfeiffer and Michael Muskal,LOS ANGELES TIMES

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - After hearing the defense and the prosecution wrap up their cases by playing selected video clips to bolster their final pleas yesterday, the jury in the Michael Jackson molestation case deliberated for about two hours, then went home for the weekend.

The eight women and four men who will decide Jackson's future will resume their discussion of the 10-count indictment Monday morning.

Lead defense attorney Thomas A. Mesereau Jr. showed about 30 minutes of video of Jackson describing his life and his loving relationships with children.

"I haven't been betrayed or deceived by children," Jackson said on the outtakes. "Adults have let me down."

The video was shot by a Jackson employee during the production of a 2003 British documentary that showed Jackson explaining that he slept innocently with children. The star is also shown holding hands with his accuser.

After Jackson, who never took the stand, explained himself, Mesereau launched his final appeal:

"This has been a nightmare for Michael Jackson," Mesereau said. "He was naive to have allowed [the accuser's family] anywhere near him. Under the law and the facts, you must return a verdict of not guilty on all counts. It's the only right verdict."

When Mesereau finished and before he turned the podium over to Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen, three Jackson sisters - Janet, LaToya and Rebbie - who had come to support the beleaguered pop star, stood up and silently walked out of the courtroom.

Zonen finished his rebuttal by showing a snippet of the interview of the accuser when the boy told investigators for the first time the details of how he was molested by Jackson.

"You have just witnessed the seven worst minutes of this young man's life," Zonen said, adding that it showed a boy betrayed by the man he loved.

The defense maintains that the boy was acting, Zonen continued. "Your common sense will tell you otherwise. This is an absolutely sincere revelation. These accusations are not false. These accusations are entirely accurate."

Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville gave final instructions to jurors before excusing them to deliberate at 12:22 p.m.

The pop star is charged with molesting a 13-year-old boy in early 2003 and with giving him alcohol to aid in the abuse.

If convicted of all charges, Jackson could be sentenced to more than 18 years in prison.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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