Defense Rests In Jackson Case - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

5/25/05-SANTA MARIA, California

Defense Rests In Jackson Case

Michael Jackson's defense rested Wednesday morning after comedian Chris Tucker testified that he warned the pop star in February 2003 to be careful of the family of his teenage accuser and the boy's family.

In the final testimony of the defense case, Tucker singled out the accuser's mother, who, he testified had "mental problems.

"I told him to watch out for (the mother) because I felt suspicious," Tucker said. "You need to watch out. Be careful."

At the conclusion of Tucker's testimony, lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. rose and told the judge, "Your honor, the defense rests" -- without Jackson taking the stand.

"His attorneys did not feel, at this point in time in the trial, it was necessary," Jackson spokeswoman said. She characterized the decision for him not to testify as a "group" decision between Jackson and his attorneys.

The completion of the defense phase came after a rush of celebrity testimony on behalf of Jackson.

On Tuesday, talk-show host Jay Leno testified that he received several phone messages from Michael Jackson's accuser in 2000 and talked to him briefly on the phone, but the comedian said neither the boy nor his family asked him for money.

In his testimony Wednesday, Tucker said he thought the accuser -- whom Tucker befriended in 2000 as the boy was battling cancer -- was "smart" and "cunning," telling jurors that the boy would reference his illness when asking Tucker for money.

The accuser's younger brother, a key prosecution witness in the trial, was even more cunning, Tucker said, to the point that the "Rush Hour" star felt e needed "to check (the brother's) pockets before he left my house."

Tucker also said he flew the family by private jet to Miami in February 2003 because the accuser told him that he wanted to go there to be with Jackson -- contradicting assertions by both the family and the prosecution that the trip was part of an effort by Jackson's camp to enlist their help with a news conference.

Tucker said the boy called him twice on February 4, 2003, the day after the initial broadcast of "Living With Michael Jackson," a television documentary by British journalist Martin Bashir.

The accuser, then 13, was shown in the program holding hands with Jackson, and Tucker said the boy told him that the family wanted to escape the ensuing media onslaught by going to Miami, where, the boy had learned, Jackson was staying.

During their earlier testimony, family members said Jackson and his associates, who told them they were going to Florida to participate in a news conference that never was held, initiated the trip. The prosecution has also pointed to the Miami trip as part of a conspiracy to control and intimidate the family to get them to participate in damage control operations after the Bashir documentary.

Tucker said it was during the Miami trip that he warned Jackson about the accuser's family. He said his own associates also had been warning him about the family, but he continued to try to help them because "I felt sorry for (the boy)."

"They did a lot of things I didn't see, that my people were telling me to watch out," he said.

But Tucker said he started "getting nervous" when the accuser and his brother and sister began referring to him as the "brother" and telling them they how much they loved him.

"I knew it was going a little too far," he said.

Jackson arrived at the Santa Maria courthouse with his parents for the last day of his defense wearing a dark suit and an embroidered gold vest -- but no armband, which has been a ubiquitous fashion accessory throughout the trial.

Jackson, 46, was indicted last year on 10 felony counts, including four counts of committing a lewd act on a child; one count of conspiracy to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion; one count of attempting to commit a lewd act on a child; and four counts of administering an intoxicating agent to assist in the commission of a felony.

Jackson pleaded not guilty to the charges.


Powered by Frankly