LOS ANGELES – Britney Spears did not appear at her driver's license trial Thursday. Instead, her father did the talking.
Spears' defense consisted solely of the testimony of Jamie Spears, who told jurors his daughter intends to return to Louisiana once she has custody of her children. The singer's attorney, J. Michael Flanagan, said in his opening statement that she was exempt from having a California driver's license because she didn't meet residency requirements.
On cross-examination, however, Jamie Spears acknowledged that his daughter got married, had two children and divorced in California.
Both sides rested their cases Thursday afternoon and jurors will return for deliberations Friday morning.
Throughout the day Thursday, the possibility of the 26-year-old testifying during the trial remained. That prospect was quashed Thursday afternoon when Flanagan asked Jamie Spears whether he would allow his daughter to take the stand.
"No," he replied.
The singer's trial on a misdemeanor count of driving without a valid license began with jury selection Wednesday. The case is the last remnant of an August 2007 incident in which Spears was photographed hitting a parked car and leaving the scene.
While Spears settled a hit-and-run charge, Flanagan rejected a plea deal that prosecutors offered Spears on the driving-without-a license charge because he said Spears did not want a criminal record.
Prosecutors relied on testimony from Jamie Spears and two witnesses, a Department of Motor Vehicles investigator and a paparazzo assigned to Britney Spears around-the-clock, to build their case that the singer's home is in Los Angeles. The paparazzo, Sondro Rodregues, told jurors Britney Spears spends roughly 80 percent of her time in the area.
Flanagan tried to establish that Los Angeles is a temporary home for Britney Spears and that she will likely leave once she has custody of her young sons. Ex-husband Kevin Federline currently has full custody of the couple's children, and Spears remains under the conservatorship of her father, who controls the singer's personal and financial affairs.
Flanagan gave jurors three examples of her ties to Louisiana: she is registered to vote there; she takes a homestead exemption on her property taxes there and until late last year, she had a Louisiana driver's license.
Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Michael Amerian chipped away at those ties, however, including revealing that Spears' voting registration in Louisiana had lapsed due to inactivity. He then introduced divorce records that Spears signed in 2006 and a couple weeks before the hit-and-run accident that stated, under penalty of perjury, that she lived in California.
Spears' fate will be decided by a jury of eight women and four men.
Once a jury was seated, the case barreled forward, with Amerian spending two minutes to give his opening statement. He called the case "very straightforward."
The prosecution's first witness, Gary Edmonds, said records indicated that Spears had not applied for a license as of Aug. 15, 2007 — more than a week after the hit-and-run.
Flanagan also told jurors that Spears had attempted to apply for a California license months before the accident, but the DMV was unable to take her photo.
If convicted, Spears faces jail time and a fine, although she has no prior criminal record, so her penalty is unlikely to be severe.
Flanagan has said he will appeal if Spears is convicted. Before the trial he had said he was considering mounting no defense, but changed his mind and called Spears' father. He was able to speak with authority about his daughter's affairs since he has controlled them since February, when a court granted him conservatorship over Spears' personal and financial matters.