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Key Jackson witness stuck in Vegas jail

Former bodyguard arrested for robbery, kidnapping, NBC News reports
/ Source: NBC News and news services

One of Michael Jackson's former bodyguards, a key prosecution witness in the singer's child molestation trial, was arrested in Las Vegas on robbery, burglary and kidnapping charges, NBC News' Mike Taibbi reported Wednesday.

Chris Carter, who was employed as Jackson's personal bodyguard at the time of the alleged molestation, had been cooperating with the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's office and was expected to testify that he saw the accuser and other children drinking at Neverland.

Carter is the prosecution's only witness — outside of the accuser's family — who claims to have seen Jackson and the boy drinking together.  He was also expected to testify that he drove the accuser's mother to her boyfriend's apartment in Los Angeles, and watched as she cried and prayed during the drive.

The arrest, however, could keep Carter from testifying. Jackson's defense team reportedly intends to challenge Carter's credibility in the wake of his arrest and try to block him from taking the stand. And trial observers believe the prosecution may opt not to call Carter to the stand given this latest development.

Carter was arrested on at least three charges stemming from a Feb. 19 incident: armed robbery, burglary with a deadly weapon and kidnapping. Bail was set at $850,000, NBC learned, and Carter remains incarcerated in a Clark County, Nev., jail. Carter's lawyer confirmed the details to NBC News.

District Attorney Tom Sneddon told jurors that they would hear Carter's testimony about alleged drinking incidents involving Jackson and the accuser. Carter apparently told grand jurors in the Jackson case he was with Jackson 24 hours a day and was the only non-family witness to see a drinking episode on a private flight from Miami.

Carter also told the grand jury he saw the accuser drunk in broad daylight, getting into a golf cart. "He was staggering around," Carter had testified. "He was, like, getting in this golf cart, driving around. I was, like, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa.'"

Lawyer feels illAs Wednesday's court session was wrapping up, one of Jackson’s lawyers, Brian Oxman, suddenly took ill, prompting the entertainer to reach over and dab at his face with a tissue as he helped the attorney remove his jacket.

Sheriff’s deputies cleared the courtroom, and Oxman was escorted out on a gurney to a waiting ambulance.

The incident was the latest in a series of unexpected events that have sometimes upstaged the trial, including two hospital visits by Jackson.

Earlier this month, the 46-year-old entertainer was nearly arrested after turning up over an hour late for court in pajama bottoms and sandals after a hospital visit for a back injury.

Jackson’s lead attorney, Tom Mesereau, said Oxman was being evaluated by doctors. “He doesn’t feel too well,” he told reporters as he escorted a slow-walking Jackson from the central California courtroom.

Earlier, in a setback for prosecutors, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville said he would not let material from Jackson’s computers be introduced at trial.