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Jacko Case Focuses on Handling of Evidence

The prosecution in Michael Jackson's (search) child molestation trial showed jurors Friday its most controversial piece of evidence — a sexually explicit magazine containing three fingerprints from Jackson's accuser and one from the pop star himself.

The defense has contended that the boy and Jackson never handled the magazine together but that the boy placed his fingers on it during grand jury hearings. The defense has also suggested the boy and his brother snooped through Jackson's possessions without permission.

A Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department fingerprint expert, Robert Spinner, also identified two fingerprints from the accuser's brother on different pages of one magazine, and two other fingerprints from the accuser — one on another magazine and one on an adult video calendar.

The magazine that had prints from both Jackson and his accuser was Hustler Barely Legal Hardcore, which jurors have seen several times on a large screen that the prosecution has used to project images featuring naked women engaged in sex with men.

Another group of magazines contained only fingerprints of Jackson — 12 in all — and those included issues of Playboy and a publication called Visions of Fantasy Sam and Jose's Black Starlett.

Witnesses have acknowledged under defense questioning that the adult materials were all legal to possess.

The fingerprint evidence was presented after nearly a full week of prosecution displays of publications found when sheriff's investigators searched Jackson's Neverland ranch in November 2003.

Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville (search) ended the day 15 minutes early, before cross-examination of Spinner could begin, and joked, "I can't take any more."

As Jackson left the courthouse he was asked how he planned to spend the weekend. He replied, "Just to relax with my children."

Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting the then-13-year-old boy at Neverland (search) in February or March 2003, giving him alcohol and conspiring to hold the boy's family captive.

Some of the magazines placed in evidence were old, dating back to 1993, and some were relatively new, with publication dates months after the accuser and his family had left Neverland.

All of the boys' fingerprints were from magazines taken from a briefcase found in a bathroom in Jackson's master bedroom.

Prosecutors called numerous fingerprint technicians before they actually entered the material into evidence. Some were trainees who had participated in the analysis, while others had only a few months experience. But the man who ultimately identified the prints was a 32-year veteran who retired in August 2003 but came back as a part-time employee to work on the case.

The defense has shown that the magazines and other items were not subjected to fingerprint analysis until months after they were seized, and then only after some had been used during the grand jury hearings. The defense claim that the accuser handled the magazines during his grand jury testimony has not been resolved.

Jackson had his full defense team on hand Friday with the return of co-counsel Brian Oxman, who fell ill Wednesday and was hospitalized for treatment of pneumonia.