IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Jackson won’t testify

Comedian Chris Tucker is final defense witness
/ Source: The Associated Press

Michael Jackson won’t take the stand in his child molestation trial, leaving jurors with only the singer’s videotaped statements about what happened behind Neverland’s closed doors.

In his opening statement, lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. said, “Mr. Jackson will tell you that at one time at Neverland (Valley Ranch), he got a very bad feeling about these people,” suggesting the singer would testify during the trial.

However, after a day of star-studded testimony Tuesday from “Rush Hour” star Chris Tucker and “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno, Mesereau said Tucker would be the final defense witness.

Tucker was to resume his testimony Wednesday. After he finishes, the defense was expected to formally rest its case, and prosecutors will begin a rebuttal that is expected to last at least a day.

Jackson’s attorneys will then be given an opportunity to respond, followed by closing arguments, which probably won’t begin before next week.

As he left court Tuesday, Jackson declined to discuss the decision not to testify. Instead, he smiled, pressed his palms together and said he couldn’t comment.

Because taking the stand would have exposed him to cross-examination by prosecutors, the odds of Jackson’s testifying were considered remote from the outset.

But speculation that he might take the witness stand was fueled by Mesereau’s remark during his opening statement that jurors would hear from Jackson on certain issues.

They did hear from Jackson when his attorneys played nearly three hours of videotaped interviews with the entertainer in which he talked about his feelings for children, which he said were innocent and loving.

“I haven’t been betrayed or deceived by children,” he said at one point. “Adults have let me down.”

Jackson, 46, is charged with molesting the boy in February or March 2003 when the youth was 13. He is also charged with giving the teenager alcohol and conspiring to hold his family captive to get them to rebut a documentary in which the boy appeared with Jackson as the entertainer says he let children into his bed for innocent, nonsexual sleepovers.

Tucker gave money to accuser’s familyTucker, who costarred with Jackie Chan in the “Rush Hour” movies, testified Tuesday that he met Jackson’s accuser at a benefit while the boy was battling cancer in 2000. He said the boy’s father introduced himself at the Laugh Factory comedy club in Hollywood and asked him to take part.

Tucker said that a few days after the benefit the boy told him it hadn’t made any money, so he wired “probably $1,500 or more” to a foundation for the family.

Tucker said he also took the boy’s family to an amusement park and on shopping trips to a mall.

Leno, who said he makes many calls to ill children, said he grew suspicious when he began receiving overly effusive voice mail messages from the boy in 2000. He said he thought it strange that a 12-year-old would tell a comedian in his 50s that he was his hero.

“I’m not Batman,” Leno said, to laughter throughout the courtroom.

Leno said the boy left so many messages that he finally approached comedian Louise Palanker, a friend who was among several comedians helping the boy’s family.

“I said, ’What’s the story here? This doesn’t sound like a 12-year-old. This seems a little scripted,”’ Leno testified. But Leno said the boy never asked for money and he never gave him any, though he did send “Tonight Show” memorabilia and a picture.

The defense has said Leno was so concerned about the boy’s calls that he called police, but Leno said Tuesday it was police who contacted him. He said he probably did tell police he believed the family was looking for money.

“In the business I’m in you hear from a lot of crazy people and I’m reluctant to follow up. But when it’s a child I do follow up,” he testified.

Hours after testifying, Leno was again mocking the pop star on the “Tonight Show.”

He showed the audience mock footage of his day in court, including a scene in which young male witnesses were sipping on drinks in martini glasses.

“OK, you know the worst part about testifying, I had to follow the chimp. The witness chair was a mess,” Leno told the audience during taping of his monologue.