Michael Jackson’s defense lawyers announced they may call Elizabeth Taylor, Jay Leno, Quincy Jones and Kobe Bryant to the witness stand in the pop star’s molestation trial.
The list of possible witnesses sounded like coming attractions for a major Hollywood spectacle. But the judge in the case dimmed that prospect, saying not all of the celebrities would necessarily testify.
Attorneys are in the process of selecting 12 jurors and eight alternates who will decide whether Jackson molested a teenage cancer patient at his Neverland Ranch and plied the youth with alcohol.
Names of defense and prosecution witnesses were revealed to prospective jurors Monday so attorneys could find out if any of the more than 240 members of the pool had associations that may be important in jury selection.
Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. also named Jackson’s children, Paris and Prince Michael. Possible prosecution witnesses included Debbie Rowe, their mother.
Other possible witnesses included Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Chris Tucker, former child actor Corey Feldman, Backstreet Boy Nick Carter and younger brother Aaron, CBS correspondent Ed Bradley, CNN’s Larry King, Fox broadcaster Rita Cosby, New Age guru Deepak Chopra, psychic Uri Geller, illusionist David Blaine, Las Vegas tycoon Steve Wynn and relatives of the late Marlon Brando.
Also listed was journalist Martin Bashir, whose 2003 TV documentary “Living With Michael Jackson” showed Jackson and his accuser holding hands and Jackson defending his practice of sharing his bed with children.
Prosecutors also listed the family of a boy involved in 1993 molestation allegations against Jackson. The judge has not yet ruled whether that incident can be mentioned in the trial. The accuser received a multimillion-dollar settlement and no criminal charges were filed.
Both sides listed former Jackson attorney Mark Geragos, and the defense list included Jackson’s chief prosecutor, District Attorney Tom Sneddon.
During Monday’s proceedings, Jackson smiled and nodded at potential jurors. At one point he picked roughly at a fingernail, and later wrapped it in a napkin.
District Attorney Ron Zonen inquired whether prospective jurors would be influenced by celebrity witnesses.
When he asked a 62-year-old man if he knew who Deepak Chopra was, the prospect said, “I think he’s a rapper.”
Several prospective jurors said they believe children often lie under pressure by their parents or others. One man said he believed that siblings could plant ideas in a child’s head.
One female prospect said she was falsely accused by a relative of molesting a boy, and later was falsely accused by a parent of assaulting a child while she was a teacher.
“I don’t know the truth about Mr. Jackson, but I’d like the truth to come forward,” she said. “I’m sympathetic.”
Another woman said she had to go to police when she found out that a brother-in-law molested her nieces. Both women said their experiences would not influence their decisions and they could be unbiased.
Quizzed on their views of the news media, most said they thought the press goes overboard in covering some issues but said they watch news on TV and read newspapers.
The day ended as prosecutors questioned an 18-year-old man who had described himself as a “karaoke junkie” and said he believed Jackson was innocent until proven guilty.
Zonen asked the man, who like all prospects spoke into a handheld microphone, if he likes to sing in public or at home.
“It’s wherever I feel like singing,” the man said.
“Take that microphone away,” the judge said, drawing laughs as he cut off questioning.