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Tough time on the stand

NBC News and blog the Michael Jackson trial

March 10, 2005 | 3:25 p.m. ET

NBC's Matt Carluccio reports that Jackson lawyer Tom Mesereau does not seem to be pulling any punches as he begins his cross examination of the accuser.

He is peppering the boy with questions in an accusatory tone Matt described as heated. The focus is on who he told, when he told them and when the molestation claims first arose.

"So let me get this straight. You spoke to two lawyers and a psychologist before you went to the police," Mesereau asked the boy.

The accuser replied, "Yes."

Earlier, referring to comedy club owner Jamie Masada and family attorney Bill Dickerman, Meserau said to the boy: "After you met with these two men suddenly you come up with a story that Michael Jackson masturbated you."

-Adam Gorfain

March 10, 2005 | 3:25 p.m. ET

Nap time

Testimony from the accuser continues.

District attorney Tom Sneddon has asked him about the manniquins in Jackson's bedroom and photos in the briefcase. He has not yet gotten into the area of molestation. At one point during the direct examination, the accuser did a big yawn.

The district attorney asked, "Are we keeping you up?"

The accuser replied, "All I need is a pillow."

-Nina Zacuto

March 10, 2005 | 3:05 p.m. ET

Haven't got time for the pain

Jackson spokeswoman Raymone Bain just appeared on MSNBC saying Jackson in fact "was looking forward to being in court today" and had been pleased with the way his defense was going.

She also denied that Jackson was faking his apparent back pain, that he was fearful of facing his accuser: "I've heard reports that he made this up," she said. "That is incorrect."

-Adam Gorfain

March 9, 2005 | 6:20 p.m. PT

Laying odds

Passed along by one of our colleagues: Traders at Ireland-based online trading site Intrade are putting their money on a Michael Jackson acquittal, at least as of Wednesday.

The site, which allows users to invest in future real-world events, has contracts for two possible outcomes in the trial: whether the singer will be found guilty of at least one count of alleged molestation, and whether he will be convicted of getting a minor intoxicated.

On the "lewd and lascivious acts" count (that's the first one, by the way), ask price for contracts closed at 60, down from 66 last week. (The higher the price, the more likely, traders think, that Jackson will be convicted.)

That's down from a high of 77.9 a few months ago, but well up from lows in the 30s early in 2004.

Intrade's contracts aren't entirely an idle pastime. The site claims to have correctly presaged nearly every major U.S. election race last year, and contracts ran strong for Clint Eastwood prior to his winning best director at last month's Oscars.

We'll have to see how the Jackson contracts fare once the defense begins its case.

-Jon Bonné

March 8, 2005 | 5:40 p.m. PT

A Barely Legal gasp

Testimony was heard this morning that NBC's Matt Carluccio said prompted an audible reaction from onlookers in court.

It centered around an adult magazine and its date. The brother of the accuser had testified on direct examination that Jackson showed him a specific issue of Hustler Barely Legal magazine shortly after the family and the singer returned from Miami in February 2003.

During his cross examination, defense lawyer Thomas Mesereau elcited testimony that showed the family claims it left Neverland for the last time in March 2003. The lawyer then confronted the boy with the very issue the boy had said he'd been shown and pointed out it was dated August, 2003 -- after the family says it had left Neverland for good.

The boy then said the particular magazine issue in question was "like" the one he'd been shown.

Courtroom observers described it as a Perry Mason moment.

-Adam Gorfain


Drinking at Neverland?

The brother of Jackson's accuser offered plenty of detailed, often unsettling testimony on the stand today.

He said he and his older brother only drank when Michael was with them. The brother testified that they drank on the ranch "a lot of times." They drank red and white wine. They drank in the bedroom a lot of times. In Jackson's office a few times and in the wine cellar twice.

He also testified that after they came back from Miami, they slept in Michael's bed and Michael "slept next to my brother."

-Nina Zacuto


Survey says ...

... that the charges against Jackson are true, or so says the latest poll from our pals at the Gallup Organization. (In conjunction with some news organizations we know oh-so-well.)

Three-quarters of Americans believe the charges are definitely or probably true (22 percent "definitely," 53 percent "probably), which is up from 67 percent a year ago.

Fifty-six percent say Jackson will get a fair trial; 39 percent feel he won't.

The poll of 1,008 Americans was conducted Feb. 25-27, with a 95-percent sampling rate of error of +/- 3 percent.

Gallup also combined those results with a poll conducted earlier in February for a racial breakdown of the true/not-true results.  Under those figures, 51 percent of black Americans (10 percent "definitely," 41 percent "probably) believe the charges against the singer.

-Jon Bonné

March 7, 2005 |

Godfather of Soul on King of Pop

Funk legend James Brown is weighing in on pop legend Michael Jackson, saying that Jackson has been "set up" for the molestation charges against him, reports.

The hardest working man in show business believes MJ has been targeted because he's famous, or so he said before performing for a tsunami relief fundraiser in Indonesia.

Brown is no stranger to the legal process, having been imprisoned on drug and assault charges himself, and encountering numerous run-ins with the law.

"I think he's has been set up like most entertainers. People think you have a lot of money. They've been trying to do that to me all my life — trying to get something for nothing," Brown said, according to the site, which is affiliated with London's Evening Standard.

-Jon Bonné