Prosecutors Still Fishing for Evidence in Jackson Case

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Posted on Fri, Mar. 26, 2004 [b]Documents show searches continue in Michael Jackson case[/b] LINDA DEUTSCH Associated Press LOS ANGELES – The judge in Michael Jackson’s child molestation case released carefully edited search warrants Friday that show authorities continue to search bank accounts, storage lockers, computers and cellular phone records for evidence against the singer. The warrants were released in “redacted” form by Superior Court Judge Rodney J. Melville in response to motions from numerous news media organizations, including The Associated Press. The 31 pages released included authorizations to search accounts at US Bank, Verizon and Cingular Wireless and at a Shurgard Storage in the San Fernando Valley. The search warrant affidavit for the storage facility said authorities were seeking “evidence related to our investigation, specifically notes, diaries, documents, photographs, audiotapes and videotapes tending to show a relationship between Michael Jackson …” with the rest of the line blacked out. (Continue…) In another development, the judge delayed ruling on a request to lift or modify restrictions on the news media attempting to cover the area outside grand jury hearings now under way in the case. Photographers were forced Thursday to remove photo images from their digital cameras. Lawyers were told to return Monday with suggestions for modifying the judge’s sweeping order. Included in the materials release Friday were search warrant “returns” showing that officers had seized computers and computer hardware, including hard drives, floppy disks, DVDs and 554 pages of documents, most of them cellular phone records. One of the detectives, Paul Zelis, filed a sworn statement of probable cause saying that the investigators had obtained information from numerous witnesses based on their personal knowledge. “This information has corroborated information derived from the victim in this investigation,” Zelis said. Jackson is charged with molesting a 12-year-old boy beginning in February 2003 and giving him wine. Zelis, who conducted the initial search Nov. 18, 2003, of Jackson’s Neverland estate, signed a number of other warrants including some executed this month. One was dated March 19. Another detective, Craig Bonner, whose search warrant inventory return was dated March 8, explained to the judge why they were searching storage facilities. “I know persons who are involved in the commission of or attempts to cover up crimes, will oftentimes secrete evidence of the crimes in private storage facilities,” he wrote. “This is particularly true of individuals who believe law enforcement will attempt to find and seize the evidence through the service of search warrants at their residences.” He added that it is common for someone trying to hide evidence to have an acquaintance open the storage locker account for them. The affidavit appeared to suggest that Jackson had someone else place items in storage at the locker and in a bank safe deposit box. As in previous search warrants, the emphasis was on seizing multiple computer systems that are undergoing forensic analysis. Loyola University Law School Professor Laurie Levenson said the seizure of so much evidence is not unusual. “What is different,” she said,” is that it’s being done after the arrest rather than before.” With phone and bank records, she said, “They are trying to piece together months of Michael Jackson’s life. His life is literally under the microscope. … The defense will classify it as a gigantic fishing expedition. But the district attorney will say, ‘I’ve got a gigantic fish.'” :nav Source: [url=][/url]

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