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Police seized computers, cameras from Jackson

Still unclear what evidence, if any, was recovered from the scene
/ Source: Reuters

Police who raided Michael Jackson’s Neverland Valley Ranch looking for evidence that he molested a young boy seized more than a dozen computers along with video and still cameras and videotapes, court papers unsealed  Monday showed.

But it was unclear from the documents, which were released in heavily redacted form by the judge presiding over the case, what evidence — if any — police found during their search.

The documents, which had been kept under seal since the raid and were made public by Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville at the request of news organizations, mostly pertain to search warrants executed at Neverland in November.

One laptop computer was found locked in a closet in the master bathroom. Released court filings also show that prosecutors returned most of Jackson’s computers to him after copying the hard drives.

A transcript of a phone call released with the papers shows that detectives called a Santa Barbara County judge to get permission to search a storage locker, where they were apparently looking for records of Jackson’s businesses and more computer equipment.

They show that police also took away letters and legal documents found in Jackson’s bedroom and elsewhere, though there is no indication why the paperwork would interest authorities.

Jackson, 45, is charged with seven counts of committing lewd acts on a child under the age of 14 and two counts of giving the boy alcohol in order to seduce him. He has pleaded innocent and called the charges a “big lie.”

The search warrant materials were sealed by a judge at the time they were issued and reporters have fought since then to get them released. Under California law search warrant materials are part of the public record in a criminal case.

Melville agreed to release the documents during Jackson’s first court appearance in January but said that in order to ensure a fair trial for both prosecutors and the pop star he would have to redact them to the point where little of substance remained.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Feb. 13, though it is not clear if the self-described “King of Pop,” who has signed a waiver of his right to be present in court for all proceedings, would attend.