SANTA MARIA, Calif. – The defense in Michael Jackson's (search) child molestation trial may rest early next week, a prosecutor told the court Friday. That would end the defense case in less than half the time the pop star's attorneys had initially said they would need.
"We're approaching the end of trial," prosecutor Ron Zonen told Judge Rodney S. Melville (search). "The defense has indicated they may be resting as early as next Tuesday."
Defense attorneys did not contradict the statement but did not comment on it.
Zonen revealed the schedule change in the course of requesting that the defense rapidly turn over materials related to the testimony of Jackson's former attorney Mark Geragos.
The defense had said at the outset that they would need about six weeks or possibly up to eight weeks to present their case, which began May 5. A list of more than 300 possible defense witnesses that was submitted included such celebrities as Kobe Bryant (search), Elizabeth Taylor, Diana Ross and Jay Leno. The defense was expected to call Leno on Tuesday.
Jackson's attorneys presented a rapid succession of witnesses who supported Jackson's claim that he did not molest a 13-year-old boy and that there was no a conspiracy to hold the boy's family captive.
Among the most powerful defense witnesses was actor Macaulay Culkin (search), who spent part of his childhood as a Jackson houseguest and said that Jackson never touched him inappropriately.
Two other young men who spent time at Jackson's' Neverland ranch as children also denied accounts by prosecution witnesses that they were seen in suggestive situations with Jackson.
Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting the boy in February or March 2003, plying him with wine and conspiring to hold the boy's family captive.
Prosecutors claim the conspiracy was intended to get the family to make a video rebutting a TV documentary in which the accuser appeared with Jackson, who told an interviewer he let children sleep in his bed but that it was non-sexual.
Geragos' testimony led to verbal sparring matches with Zonen, but the prosecutor drew little from the veteran defense counsel.
Geragos repeated assertions that he was concerned the accuser's family would fabricate claims against Jackson to shake him down, and that he directed a private investigator to keep tabs on them.
Geragos testified under a waiver of attorney-client privilege that was limited to events before Jackson's arrest in November 2003. Before the lawyer took the stand Friday, Melville said he believed lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. had misrepresented Jackson's waiver.
"I feel deceived by Mr. Mesereau and I am considering ... sanctions of some sort against Mr. Mesereau," Melville said without taking immediate action.
Before court recessed for the weekend, the prosecution succeeded in blocking a defense bid to bring a man named by prosecutors as an unindicted coconspirator to the witness stand under immunity from prosecution.
Prosecutors had granted Vincent Amen so-called use immunity during a lengthy interview, but decided not to call him as a witness. The defense had sought to call Amen as a witness using the immunity prosecutors had granted, but the judge ruled against it.
Melville also refused to order the playing of a tape of Amen's interview with prosecutors.