Larry King arrives to testify for Jackson

CNN’s Larry King arrived on Thursday to testify for the defence at Michael Jackson’s molestation trial.

King was outside the courthouse more than a half-hour before the trial was to resume at 8.30am local time. The defence has said the talk-show host will testify that an attorney who has represented the family of Jackson’s accuser had expressed doubts about their credibility.

On Wednesday, Michael Jackson’s 12-year-old cousin testified that he saw Jackson’s accuser steal wine and money and secretly watch pornography on television while masturbating.

Rijo Jackson said the accuser’s brother—a key prosecution witness—also took part in the misbehaviour during visits to Michael Jackson’s Neverland ranch.

The defence elicited the testimony on Wednesday in an apparent effort to show that the accuser engaged in sexual activity and drank alcohol without Jackson’s involvement.

Jackson (46) is accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy in February or March 2003 and plying him with wine. He is also charged with conspiring to hold the boy’s family captive to get them to rebut a damaging documentary in which Jackson said he let children sleep in his bed, but that it was non-sexual.

Rijo said on Wednesday that in 2003 he was with the brothers in a guest unit when they turned the TV to a channel showing naked women, began masturbating and suggested he do the same.

The witness said he declined and instead went to Michael Jackson’s room to tell him what the boys were watching on TV.

“He didn’t believe it.
He thought they were cool and they wouldn’t do that,” Rijo.

Under cross-examination by prosecutor Ron Zonen, Rijo said he was scared to tell Michael Jackson about the masturbation.

He also said he spent the night in bed with his cousin.

“Did you do that often?” asked Zonen.

“Yes,” said Rijo.

Judge Rodney S Melville ruled in April that the defence could explore whether the brothers were seen masturbating at Neverland without Jackson present.

“This conduct is relevant, you honour,” defence attorney Susan Yu said at the time. “Mr Jackson is charged with masturbation, and that they did, in fact, do it themselves and are trying to blame Mr Jackson for what he never did is relevant.”

Rijo also testified that he saw the boys steal wine, go through drawers in the house and take money that belonged to a chef and to another employee.

In other testimony, actress Vernee Watson Johnson said she became suspicious of the accuser’s mother while planning efforts to raise money to help the boy when he was battling cancer in 2000.

The former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star was called to support the defence claim that the mother has a history of schemes to get money from celebrities and Jackson was another target.

Johnson testified that she had been an acting teacher for the boy and was asked to help raise money for him. She said she abandoned that effort, however, after the mother refused to set up a special bank account for donations to her son—seeking instead to have the money put directly into her account.

Also testifying was Christian Robinson, who participated in interviews of the accuser’s family and Jackson’s former wife, Deborah Rowe.

The accuser’s mother claims Jackson’s associates scripted an interview in which they praised Jackson, but Robinson said there were no scripts. He said he did write questions for Rowe’s interview, but that her answers and those of the family were spontaneous.

“Was there anything that you saw that indicated she was unwilling to do the interview?” defence attorney Robert Sanger asked about the accuser’s mother.

“She was adamant about wanting to do the interview,” Robinson said, but he added that she was hesitant to sign a release form that would allow the video to be aired.—Sapa-AP

Associated Press special correspondent Linda Deutsch contributed to this report

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