Tuesday, March 1, 2005 Posted: 9:37 PM EST (0237 GMT)
Michael Jackson and his mother, Katherine, enter the Santa Maria courthouse Tuesday.
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Opening statements kick off the Michael Jackson case.
• On The Scene: Jeffrey Toobin grades the opening statements
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• Profile: Life in the spotlight
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• Jackson: Truth will vindicate me
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SANTA MARIA, California (CNN) — Michael Jackson’s attorney sparred Tuesday with a British journalist who produced a documentary on the superstar’s life, challenging Martin Bashir’s methods and asking the judge to sanction him for refusing to answer questions.
After sitting through the second day of his child molestation trial, Jackson had two words for reporters who asked how he was feeling on his way out of court.
«Good,» Jackson said as he walked by. Then, turning back, he added, «Angry.»
When the trial resumes Wednesday morning, Ann Gabriel Kite is expected to take the stand. She’s a media crisis manager who was hired to help Jackson deal with fallout from the documentary.
When Bashir’s «Living With Michael Jackson» was played for jurors Tuesday, Jackson appeared to cry at footage showing him dangling his infant son from a hotel balcony in Berlin in 2002. Jackson reached for tissue and dabbed his eyes, according to Michael Cardoza, a legal analyst who was in the courtroom.
After Bashir was called to the stand by the prosecution to authenticate the documentary, defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. took the opportunity to cross-examine him.
The questioning brought repeated objections from Ted Boutrous, a media attorney acting on Bashir’s behalf. He argued the questions were either barred by California’s «shield law» protecting journalists or were outside the scope of testimony needed to authenticate the documentary.
Bashir told the court, «My preference is to stand by the film,» rather than answer Mesereau’s queries.
Boutrous represents a consortium of media organizations, including CNN, that have been seeking greater access to information in the trial.
Some of Boutrous’ objections were accepted by Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville. But others were overruled, at which point the judge would ask Bashir if he wanted to answer the question.
«No, I do not, your honor,» Bashir would reply, as Melville noted the refusal for the record.
The judge said he would take under advisement Mesereau’s motion to hold Bashir in contempt for refusing to cooperate, calling the dispute a «ticklish area.»
The documentary, which aired on ITV in Britain on February 3, 2003, captured the entertainer holding hands with his accuser, then 13, and defending his practice of allowing children to sleep in his bedroom. A different version of the program later aired in the United States on ABC.
In his opening statement, Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon said that after the documentary backfired on Jackson, he and his associates tried to isolate the teen and his family and intimidate them into participating in a rebuttal video designed to control the damage to his image. (Monday’s opening statements)
Mesereau asked Bashir about three complaints filed against him with a British media watchdog group. Bashir, who now works for ABC, responded that two of the complaints had been dismissed but a third was found valid.
Mesereau also pressed Bashir repeatedly about whether he discussed his pending testimony with any other journalists, including his colleagues at ABC, to which Bashir kept responding, «I discussed this with my attorney.» He said he could not recall if he discussed his testimony with another journalist.
Mesereau got Bashir to concede that his educational background was not in journalism, although Bashir said he had received training from the BBC and considered himself a professional journalist because of his experience and training.
As he concluded his cross-examination, Mesereau announced that he planned to call Bashir back to the stand later in the trial as a defense witness.
The cross-examination followed the conclusion of a blistering opening statement by Mesereau, who continued his attack from Monday on the motives and credibility of the accuser and his mother.
Addressing jurors as he concluded his opening statement, Mesereau several times used the phrase «Michael Jackson will tell you,» indicating the singer might take the stand.
«We are extremely confident you are going to find Michael Jackson absolutely not guilty,» said Mesereau, who also told jurors that DNA from neither the accuser nor his brother were found during extensive police searches of Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.
Mesereau also said that Jackson had signed an agreement allowing two of his associates, Ronald Konitzer and Dieter Weizner, to run his business affairs. Jackson wasn’t always aware of their activities, the defense attorney said.
Konitzer and Weizner have been named as unindicted co-conspirators in the Jackson case, accused of trying to intimidate the accuser’s family into cooperating with a damage control operation after the documentary aired.
Jackson, 46, arrived at the courthouse in Santa Maria Tuesday morning with his mother, Katherine. He was wearing a black suit with a gold arm band.
Jackson was indicted in April by a state grand jury on 10 felony counts: four counts of committing a lewd act on a child; one count of conspiracy to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion; one count of attempting to commit a lewd act on a child; and four counts of administering an intoxicating agent (alcohol) to assist in the commission of a felony.
He has pleaded not guilty.
Outlining his case for jurors, Sneddon said Jackson used alcohol and pornography to manipulate and sexually molest the teen, a cancer patient whose dying wish had been to meet the entertainer. His cancer is now in remission.
Mesereau addressed those allegations Tuesday, conceding that Jackson does read what he called «girlie magazines,» such as Hustler and Playboy. But he denied that Jackson showed the material to his accuser or the accuser’s brother during overnight visits.
«Mr. Jackson will tell you that he caught the kids with the magazines and took them away,» he said.
Mesereau also told jurors that Jackson’s physician will testify that he did not see Jackson give his accuser alcohol during a flight, as the prosecution has alleged, and that the children themselves broke into Jackson’s wine cellar.
Mesereau described the children as being out of control, once throwing objects off of the top of the Ferris wheel at Neverland, aiming at people on the ground and Jackson’s pet elephants.
CNN’s Miguel Marquez, Ted Rowlands and Dree de Clamecy contributed to this report.
Tuesday, March 1, 2005 Posted: 9:37 PM EST (0237 GMT)