Jury views controversial Michael Jackson documentary

Jurors in the Michael Jackson child molestation case watched the TV documentary that sparked the case, seeing the pop star and the boy who would become his accuser appearing as happy friends at Jackson's Neverland Ranch. "He's really a child at heart," the boy tells an interviewer in the documentary "Living With Michael Jackson." Jurors viewed the tape Tuesday after defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. gave an opening statement that sought to counter allegations that Jackson showed the boy sexually explicit materials and later fondled him at Neverland. In his remarks, Mesereau suggested the entertainer may testify. "Michael will tell you one time he got a very bad feeling at Neverland," he said, describing an incident when the boy's mother suddenly told her children to kneel and pray with "our daddy, Michael Jackson." At another point Mesereau said, "Mr. Jackson will freely admit that he does read girlie magazines from time to time. He absolutely does not show them to children." Mesereau's suggestion that Jackson may testify was intentional, Jackson spokeswoman Raymone K. Bain said, adding: "They have not made a decision yet." Jackson, who would be exposed to cross-examination if he takes the stand, is not on the defense witness list. Jurors watched the documentary after prosecutors called its maker, British journalist Martin Bashir, to the stand. Jackson dabbed his eyes with a tissue during a segment in which he says children are his reason for living. The program, taped in 2002 and aired in 2003, led to the investigation that ultimately resulted in charges that Jackson molested the then-13-year-old cancer survivor and conspired to hold the boy's family captive. As the program was played, some jurors leaned forward in their seats, a few smiled or laughed when Jackson said humorous things, and a few bobbed their heads along with Jackson's music. Some smiled when the video showed Jackson singing "smile while your heart is breaking" as he left a hotel. Although the documentary is best known for Jackson's comments about allowing children to sleep in his bed, it also exposed jurors to a sympathetic portrayal of Jackson. The singer is seen racing go-carts and climbing trees, as well as teaching Bashir how to "moonwalk." At one point Jackson emotionally describes abuse that he claims he and his brothers received from their father, Joe Jackson, during their days in the Jackson 5. "I remember hearing my mother scream, 'Joe, you're going to kill him,"' Jackson says at one point. The documentary also referred to Jackson's relationships with adult women, and briefly showed the 2002 incident in which he dangled one of his children from a hotel balcony in Germany. At one point, Jackson appears with the boy who is now accusing him, and the boy's brother and sister. The children do a dance routine in Jackson's kitchen. Later the boy holds hands with Jackson and says the pop star is perpetually childlike and understands children. "You're an adult when you want to be one," the boy says. When the boy says that Jackson once told him and his brother, "If you love me you'll sleep in the bed," Jackson tells the interviewer that the children slept in his bed and he slept on the floor in a sleeping bag. Holding the boy's hand tightly, Jackson says, "My greatest inspiration comes from kids. It's all inspired by that level of purity. I see God in the face of children." After the viewing, Mesereau sought to have Bashir's testimony and the documentary stricken when Bashir refused to say how many hours of videotape were recorded during the making of the program. Bashir's attorney, Theodore Boutrous Jr., repeatedly invoked California's shield law for reporters, saying that as a journalist Bashir did not have to answer questions about unpublished materials. Judge Rodney S. Melville refused to strike the video or the testimony. Jackson appeared agitated when Bashir was on the stand, at one point putting out his arms as if to tell him to speak up. Bashir was testifying in a near-whisper. As Jackson left court, reporters asked him how he was feeling. He said "good," then added "angry." He thanked reporters and walked away. In his opening statement, Mesereau accused the prosecution of changing the dates of the alleged molestation because they were in conflict with an interview between child welfare workers and the family. Mesereau also said the mother was using the criminal charges to build a civil case in order to get a payoff, and he addressed allegations that Jackson gave alcohol to his accuser and the brother. Mesereau said the children were sometimes "out of control" at Neverland and read Jackson's magazines and broke into his alcohol without his permission. Jackson would face prison if convicted of all charges, although the term is uncertain because of many sentencing variables. Former San Francisco prosecutor Jim Hammer, now a legal analyst, said the term could be more than 20 years. Associated Press

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