Michael Jackson will face the man leading the prosecution in his child abuse case today when he makes a surprise appearance at the latest pre-trial hearing in Santa Maria, California.
Although not required to attend, the pop superstar sparked a media frenzy with his last-minute decision to witness the Santa Barbara County district attorney, Tom Sneddon, give evidence after being subpoenaed by Jackson's defence team, informs News Telegraph.
According to SKY.News the pop star says he will attend the pre-trial hearing in Santa Maria, near his Neverland ranch. He is accused of molesting a 12-year-old boy. Jackson, who denies the charges, is currently free on US$3m bail. The 45-year-old has obtained a waiver allowing him to skip most hearings ahead of his trial, which is scheduled to begin on January 30, 2005. However, close aides said Jackson decided to attend court "to keep on top of the case."
This pre-trial hearing could last a week, but Mr Jackson is only expected to attend the first day. He has only appeared in court twice before in this case - both times causing a furore outside the court with thousands of fans and media turning up. "We are prepared for any contingency and have the necessary resources ready should Mr Jackson choose to attend the hearing," said Santa Barbara police department spokesman Sergeant Chris Pappas. The star is currently free on $3m (Ј1.6m) bail. His trial is scheduled to start on 30 January 2005, informs BBC.