After only three weeks, the defense has rested in the Michael Jackson child-molestation trial, just after its last witness, Chris Tucker, took the stand Wednesday morning (May 25).
Most of Jackson's star-studded defense -- which did not feature the singer taking the stand after all, despite his lawyers' indication that he would -- focused on attacking the mother of his accuser, portraying her as a con artist who made a habit of hitting people up for money and defrauding them by using her son's cancer as a ploy for sympathy, with the implication being that she coached her son to make a false claim.
Jackson's team also did not present as many celebrity witnesses as it had originally said it would, instead scaling down the witness list to exclude character witnesses, only presenting those who had direct knowledge of the case or contact with the accuser, such as Jay Leno and Chris Tucker (see [article id="1502838"]"Jay Leno, Chris Tucker Take The Stand In Jackson Case"[/article]), or those who would be in a position to dispute allegations of past molestation, such as Macaulay Culkin and Wade Robson (see [article id="1501648"]"Macaulay Culkin Says He Learned From CNN That Jackson Allegedly Molested Him"[/article]).
The defense was able to shorten its case by making many of its points during the prosecution's case, on cross-examination. Keeping it brief also undoubtedly scored points with the jury, who smiled at the news that their service would soon be over.
Leno, who took the stand Tuesday, had made a series of jokes about his part of the case being over during his monologue on "The Tonight Show" that night, including presenting his "souvenir," pulling out a gavel from his pocket. So when Judge Rodney Melville entered the courtroom Wednesday, he asked the court, "Where's my gavel?"
Tucker had taken the stand late Tuesday, when he started to describe how he met both the accuser and Jackson, since he was introduced to the singer through the boy. He became the boy's friend, giving his family money and taking them shopping and to amusement parks. He invited them to the Las Vegas set of one of his movies, where he paid for their hotel and they stayed "for a week or two," he said. While they were on the set, Tucker said, the accuser and his siblings were disruptive, but part of his testimony about this was stricken from the record. Tucker said he even offered to get the family a car, to help them get around and to help them get away from the media, he said.
While Tucker mostly talked to the boy, the accuser's mother did call him once in 2001, he said, "crying on the phone, just crying and crying and crying, about how I was the kid's brother and all this stuff." This made him nervous, he said, "because I'm high-profile," and he was worried they were going to take advantage of him.
The family's trip to Miami in 2003, Tucker said, originated because the accuser told the comedian he was looking for Jackson, not because Jackson sent for the family to make sure they avoided seeing the Martin Bashir documentary "Living With Michael Jackson" as the prosecution had claimed. Tucker testified that he told the family he was flying to meet Jackson in Florida by private jet and offered them a ride. Before the trip, the accuser's family went to Tucker's home, and the actor started having misgivings about the mother, saying "something in my spirit doesn't feel right" about her.
When they arrived in Miami, Tucker said, he took Jackson aside and told him to "watch out" for her. "I felt suspicious," he said.
With the defense resting, the prosecution started to call rebuttal witnesses. District attorney's investigator Tim Rooney said he searched a filing cabinet in the security office at Neverland and found no files relating to the accuser's family, with the implication being that Jackson removed them prior to the raid.
Neverland house manager Jesus Salas took the stand again to say he'd seen Jackson intoxicated "a number of times" in the presence of his own children, sometimes to the point where he had concern for the children, even though there was always a nanny around. Salas also said no one had reported to him any incidents such as the accuser and his brother demanding alcohol in their milkshakes.
The prosecution also asked to play a one-hour video of the accuser's first interview with sheriff's deputies, but the defense said if that happened, it'd have no choice but to call the accuser as a rebuttal witness. Melville said he would watch the video and rule on the issue Thursday.
(CBS News contributed to this report.)
This story was originally published on 5.25.2005 at 4:29 p.m. ET.
For full coverage of the Michael Jackson case, see [article id="1480530"]"Michael Jackson Accused."[/article]