SANTA MARIA, Calif. – The judge in the Michael Jackson (search) molestation trial Thursday spared jurors from seeing a graphic piece of evidence when he barred prosecutors from showing photographs of the pop star's genitalia.
In another ruling, the judge said prosecutors can play a videotape of the accuser's original police interview in 2003 in a bid to show that the boy's story has been consistent. Defense lawyers said that if the prosecution shows the tape, the defense would want to call the boy back for questioning. They also may call the boy's mother.
The attempt to admit the genitalia photographs stems from a 1993 molestation investigation of Jackson. When prosecutors were trying to gather evidence against the singer back then, they served a subpoena at his home that allowed them to photograph his genitalia.
They then had the accuser draw a picture of what he thought the genitalia looked like. Prosecutors claimed the picture contained a blemish that was unique to Jackson's anatomy.
Arguing for use of the pictures, Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen (search) said the prosecution wanted to show jurors a child's description "of a unique feature of his (Jackson's) anatomy." He said it would show that Jackson's relationships with boys were "not casual."
But defense attorney Robert Sanger (search) called the photographs an "unfair surprise" and said prosecutors had "not even hinted that they were going to try this tactic in advance." He cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision which says a judge is supposed to avoid dramatic evidence at the end of a trial that could be prejudicial.
"This is really a stretch to come up with any kind of reason to bring this in as evidence," Sanger said, arguing that it would be "very shocking" for the jury to see.
The boy in the 1993 investigation and his family eventually received a multimillion-dollar settlement from Jackson and no charges were filed. That boy is now a young man and has been unavailable to serve as a witness in Jackson's trial.
Jackson, 46, is charged with molesting a 13-year-old boy in February or March 2003, giving him wine and conspiring to hold his family captive to get them to rebut a documentary in which the boy appeared with Jackson as the entertainer said he let children into his bed but it was non-sexual.
The defense wrapped up its case Wednesday, and the trial is now in the rebuttal phase. The jury could get the case next week.