Published June 01, 2005
SANTA MARIA, Calif. – The jury in Michael Jackson's (search) child molestation case on Wednesday received instruction that will govern deliberations that could begin this week.
The pop star watched as Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville (search) began reading lengthy instructions hammered out by prosecuting and defense attorneys over more than a day.
Melville told the eight women and four men that closing arguments will begin Thursday and they will be given the case sometime Friday, 14 weeks after opening statements.
"You've heard all of the evidence and you will hear the arguments of attorneys," Melville said.
He told jurors they must determine what the facts are from testimony, follow the law as presented by the judge and make their decision without "pity for or prejudice toward" the defendant.
Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old cancer survivor in February or March 2003, plying him with wine and conspiring to hold his family captive to get them to rebut damaging aspects of the documentary "Living With Michael Jackson," which aired in the U.S. on Feb. 6, 2003.
The documentary showed Jackson holding hands with the boy and the singer saying he allows children to sleep in his bed but that it is an innocent, non-sexual practice.
The judge listed the 10-count indictment against Jackson, which includes two counts of committing a lewd act on a minor as witnessed by the alleged victim and two counts of lewd acts on a minor as witnessed by the alleged victim's brother.
During testimony the accuser described two molestation incidents and his brother said he twice saw the accuser being molested while asleep.
The indictment also alleges one count of an attempted lewd act, one count of conspiracy involving child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion, and four counts of administering an intoxicating agent — alcohol — for the purpose of committing a felony, child molestation.
Following up on an earlier decision regarding the alcohol allegations, the judge told the jurors they may consider a "lesser charge" of "furnishing alcohol to a minor," a misdemeanor. The instruction means the jury would not have to relate the alcohol to the purpose of molestation.
The judge also said that the four main videos shown during the trial should not be used to determine the truth of any statements made in them, except for certain statements the prosecution will claim were admissions by Jackson.
Those statements were not specified but the judge said they will be outlined in an exhibit that will be provided by the prosecution.
The statements were expected to include Jackson's remark in the documentary that he allowed children into his bed.
Melville also told the jury how to use prosecution testimony that alleged Jackson has a history of improper behavior with boys.
The judge said that if jurors determine Jackson has such a history, "you may but are not required to infer that the defendant had a predisposition" to commit the crimes alleged in the current case.
But he told the jurors "that is not sufficient in itself to prove he committed the crimes charged."
The jury must also not infer anything from the fact Jackson decided not to testify, the judge said.
He paused at one point to determine if the jurors were paying attention.
"You know I read to my wife at night so she'll go to sleep. Am I having that effect here?" he said.