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Jackson defense focuses on security logs

Guard testified that accuser was not allowed to leave Neverland
/ Source: The Associated Press

The defense in the Michael Jackson child molestation trial on Thursday walked a former Neverland ranch security guard through records detailing activities at Jackson's estate during the time the accuser and his family were allegedly held captive there.

The logs showed, among other things, that on Feb. 20, 2003, the boy now accusing Jackson of molestation was hit by a golf cart driven by a relative of actor Marlon Brando.

An emergency medical worker examined the boy and he did not require any further attention, according to the log reviewed by former guard Brian Barron during cross-examination by defense attorney Robert Sanger.

An entry from Feb. 24, 2003, showed the entire family left and returned a few hours later. Sanger asked if the family had gone to the dentist that day and Barron said he did not know.

The boy's mother has testified that she took the family for an unnecessary trip to an orthodontist because she hoped to somehow escape.

Prosecutors allege that Jackson conspired to hold the family so they would make a video rebutting a damaging television documentary about the pop star.

Jackson was greeted by screaming fans on his arrival at court Thursday. Wearing a black coat with a bright aqua armband and vest, he acknowledged the screams with a wave.

The prosecution called Barron on Wednesday to testify that he once had orders not to let the accuser leave Neverland.

Barron, a police officer who moonlighted at Neverland, said that in January or February 2003 he saw a note written on a message board that "simply stated (the boy) is not allowed off-property."

He said he needed to get permission from a supervisor before letting the boy leave.

Directive to keep boy at Neverland
While the prosecution sought to show that the directive indicated they boy and his family were held against their will, Sanger challenged that implication when he began questioning Barron.

Sanger asked whether the general policy was that children visiting without parents would not be allowed to leave by themselves.

"Yes," said Barron. "We would not let them go off the ranch without supervision."

"So it would not be unusual to not let (the boy and his brother) leave the ranch without supervision," said Sanger.

"That's correct," said Barron.

The defense then questioned Barron about the visitor logs and it became clear that the ranch's timeline of arrivals and departures for the accuser and his family was different than those described by the mother and other prosecution witnesses.

The mother and others have said the family flew to Florida to be with Jackson just before the TV documentary about Jackson was broadcast on Feb. 6, 2003. The mother said Jackson did not allow them to view the program there.

But the gate records of Neverland showed the family present at the estate on Feb. 6 and Feb. 7, 2003.

Barron wasn't asked if the dates were accurate, but it was clear the records weren't always perfect. The name of the boy's sister, for example, was repeatedly misspelled.

The witness, a police officer for the city of Guadalupe, said that he quit his job at Neverland after the estate was raided by Santa Barbara County sheriff's deputies in November 2003. He said a supervisor at his police job suggested he give up the part-time job because of the criminal investigation and he took the advice.

"You did not do that because you'd seen anything unlawful at the ranch?" asked Sanger.

"No," said the witness, who acknowledged that if he had seen anything amiss he would have been obligated as a police officer to report it.

The witness also said that after the raid — for which he was not present — the Sheriff's Department asked him to go back to work at Neverland as a law enforcement informant but that he refused.

Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old cancer patient in February or March 2003, giving him alcohol and conspiring to hold his family captive to get them to rebut the documentary "Living With Michael Jackson" by British journalist Martin Bashir.

The boy appeared with Jackson in the documentary, and the pop star spoke of allowing children to sleep in his bed although he characterized it as non-sexual.

Meanwhile, Jackson's attorneys asked that prosecutors be barred from presenting decade-old allegations from a former Jackson employee that he was once asked to bring Vaseline to the singer's bedroom during an alleged incident involving a young boy who later received a multimillion-dollar settlement from the singer.

The motion was one of several Judge Rodney S. Melville was expected to hear Thursday. Defense attorneys said in a motion released Wednesday that former Jackson employee Kassim Abdool claims he "saw wet swimming trunks on a floor, witnessed a brief hug between Mr. Jackson and (the boy) and ... was asked to bring Vaseline to Mr. Jackson's bedroom."

Abdool was one of several employees who lost a wrongful termination lawsuit to Jackson in 1997 and were ordered to pay damages to the singer in a countersuit. The defense said his testimony would be "precisely the kind of inflammatory evidence that is more prejudicial than probative," and asked that it not be allowed.

The boy named in the incident received a multimillion-dollar settlement from Jackson in 1994 and subsequently declined to cooperate in a criminal investigation. No charges were filed in that case.

Prosecutors have introduced several former Jackson employees who claim to have witnessed Jackson behaving inappropriately with young boys. Defense attorneys have tried to discredit them by showing they have either lost a lawsuit to Jackson or at least attempted to sell their stories.

Prosecutors said the employees' testimony increased the credibility of Jackson's current accuser by showing the singer has a history of improper behavior with young boys.