SANTA MARIA, Calif. – Michael Jackson's (search) attorney on Tuesday challenged the authenticity of photographs that appeared to show the mother of the pop star's accuser with severe bruises from an alleged beating by store security guards.
The woman's family received a settlement of more than $150,000 over the 1998 store incident. The episode is unrelated to the child-molestation case against Jackson, but the singer's lawyers have seized on it to argue that the family has a history of making false claims for money.
Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. (search) attacked the photos, introduced by the prosecution late Monday, by asking the woman when the pictures were taken. She said immediately — her then-husband wanted to document her injuries.
"But didn't you testify that you didn't have these bruises immediately?" asked Mesereau.
She fumbled for words and said she had been doing everything at the instruction of a defense attorney after she was arrested on suspicion of assault and battery, burglary and petty theft — charges that were eventually dropped.
Mesereau asked whether she told a woman at a law office that the bruises that were photographed were actually from a beating by her former husband.
"That's incorrect," she said during her fifth and final day on the stand.
The woman said that although she claimed to have been beaten and sexually touched during the altercation with the store guards, she did not decide to sue until a year later. Mesereau then suggested that was the pattern she was following in the Jackson case.
Asked about the case as he left court, Jackson simply said, "I think it's going well, thank you."
Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting one of the woman's sons — a teenage cancer patient — in 2003, giving the boy alcohol and conspiring to hold the boy's family captive to get them to rebut a damaging TV documentary about Jackson.
Mesereau also asked the mother about her family's encounters with other celebrities. She said she was never informed that fund-raisers were held for her son at a Hollywood comedy club. And she said that she had no idea why money was being put in a bank account she opened for her son's benefit.
"You had no idea why anyone put money in it. You just withdrew it?" asked Mesereau.
"I did what (my husband) told me," the woman said.
The woman also maintained that she never asked comedian George Lopez (search) for money, nor did she approach Jay Leno.
The prosecution plans to rest next week, District Attorney Tom Sneddon (search) told the judge Tuesday. The announcement came in the eighth week since opening statements.