Very bad news for Michael Jackson's slow-moving defense team. A key witness who could help Jackson in his child molestation case will not take the stand to help him, even if subpoenaed.
Vincent Amen is thought to be one of five unnamed co-conspirators in the Jackson case. In February 2003, the then-22-year-old college student was drafted by his childhood pal, Frank Tyson, to come to Los Angeles and work for Jackson. Tyson, whose family had long been close to Jackson, had been asked to help keep an eye on the family now at the center of the child molestation case.
Tyson and Amen, according to sources, quickly became chauffeurs and runners for the mother in the family, taking her shopping and to the doctor and often babysitting for her three children.
Amen, even more than Tyson, spent long stretches of time with the family. His testimony about the family's activities during the time that Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon says the child molestation occurred would be key to the case.
But Amen's attorney, Michael Bachner, told me yesterday that his client will not be forthcoming with any assistance to Jackson. Apparently, in the year or so since police first raided Jackson's ranch, no one from the Jackson camp has bothered to speak to Amen or Tyson about their firsthand encounters with the family.
Neither of the young men was called in front of the grand jury, nor have they been interviewed by the defense or the prosecution teams.
Bachner told me that if his client is subpoenaed, he will invoke his Fifth Amendment rights and refuse to testify. When I suggested that Amen and Tyson would be Jackson's first-line defense in the case, Bachner countered, "He's not going to testify unless the D.A. offers him immunity. And he's not going to testify for the defense."
Even if Jackson and defense attorney Tom Mesereau make a special plea to them?
"Even then," Backer said.
Ironically, Amen is said to be in possession of mountains of material that would show the family enjoying themselves on Jackson's dime for six weeks following the Martin Bashir interview that included the three kids at Jackson's Neverland Ranch.
Sneddon has charged — without using names — that two people thought to be Amen and Tyson, working at the instruction of Jackson's aide Marc Schaffel, were holding the family against their will and planning to ship them out of the country to Brazil.
Amen is said to have the only firsthand knowledge of several early incidents in the case. He also might have been considered one of the few untainted witnesses, because he had no particular prior connection to Jackson.
Since the case began to unravel in November 2003, Jackson, his brother Randy and other members of the inner circle have managed to alienate almost all of the possible witnesses who could help provide information from that time, including Schaffel, former managers Dieter Wiesner and Ronald Konitzer and Jackson's ex-wife Debbie Rowe.
Amen was still on the fence about testifying, I am told, until hiring Bachner four or five months ago. Why Jackson's camp never bothered to speak with him or Tyson about the case may be one of the key questions after the trial is over if Jackson is convicted.