Even Francia Testimony Problematic for the Prosecution – MiniBullet #17
Reported previous admission by Jason Francia throws into doubt his entire allegation
APRIL 5 2005 — You could have cast the role of "Chicken Little" with Dan Abrams over at MSNBC today. His repeated cries of "powerful testimony" and claims of the witness "holding up under cross examination" was enough to make some observers watching to comment: "He should calm down a little. This is a trial, not a football game".
The ridiculousness going on over at Court TV goes without saying. No surprise there. But regardless of what one wants to say about the testimony of Jason Francia, it was fraught with a number of stunning things that the defense delved into under cross-examination.
Indeed, every witness has two faces. Yesterday, the media was abuzz with this so-called “credible” testimony from this 24 year old witness, with some prosecutors wondering how Mesereau was going to challenge his story. J. Francia admitted that he at first denied any molestation, which some people didn’t realize until it was brought out in court.
Well, Mesereau, under the scope of cross-examination – the full details may come out during the defense’s case – really got some interesting admissions from both Jason Francia and his mother, Blanca Francia. As soon as we get the transcripts, we’ll know more about what was brought out.
It is tantamount to pulling teeth to get a full breakdown from the media about what was said under cross-examination of Francia’s mother, Blanca Francia. But a few details, by way of MSNBC’s Mike Taibbi made it’s way out of the courtroom and onto the air.
Anyway, also appearing on that Abrams show today was MSNBC Analyst Ron Richards to put some of this alleged "powerful testimony" into context.
The first point made by Ron Richards was that people, like Abrams — in his "big trouble for the defense" declarations — act as if Jackson’s attorneys was suppose to decimate the accuser on the stand and force him into a Perry Mason-moment where he admits he lied.
Abrams tried to deny that, but it was clear with his….zeal in proclaiming "trouble" for the defense, that that’s exactly what he was doing and Richards called him on it.
Obviously, this ain’t a Perry Mason TV show. This is a real trial with people who have been trained to stick to what they’ve been saying for years.
Second, Mesereau did make REAL, substantial ground by getting the accuser to admit that he first repeatedly denied these allegations to police and suggested that it was only after being badgered by them, that he started to make allegations against Jackson.
There have been two things a number of people have been talking about all day long: One was the admission from a previous interview J. Francia gave and the extreme memory lapses he seemed to have.
First, that explosive admission of J. Francia was from an old interview he gave, which was transcribed and that Mesereau read aloud in court today.
This was covered by the Associated Press in an article dated today (April 5 2005) titled "Jackson witness pleads poor memory".
Francia said "They made me come up with a lot more stuff. They kept pushing. I wanted to hit them in the head." From their report:
Mesereau confronted the witness with a statement he made during one of his interviews in which he said: "They made me come up with a lot more stuff. They kept pushing. I wanted to hit them in the head." The witness said he did not remember the statement.Mesereau showed him a transcript and asked if that refreshed his recollection. The witness said no."Do you remember anything you said in that interview?" asked the attorney. "No," said the witness.
Unbelievable. They “made him come up with a lot more stuff”?! Huh? They “kept pushing” him so much that he wanted to “hit them in the head”?? These are not the words of someone simply trying to hide a molestation. This appears to be a flat-out admission.
Many observers chimed in completely stunned that this witness would make a statement like that. It throws into doubt everything he’s said on the stand, regardless of how emotional he appeared to be.
The questions become, did he make up what he’s saying on the stand? And/Or has he been told this for so long that he actually believes he was molested? Fox News’s Trace Gallagher reported today that the jury seemed "stoic" — seemingly indifferent or unaffected by Jason Francia’s testimony. It may have something to do with these prior admissions and his previous denial of molestation.
J. Francia’s spotty memory could also cause a few jurors to think twice about his testimony. At one point, reports the AP, Mesereau asked him about whether or not his allegation against Jackson ever resulted in a criminal case. J. Francia’s response was: "I don’t know much. I don’t watch the news." Seriously, that’s what he reportedly said.
It immediately caused even some pro-prosecution observers to make the point that he wouldn’t have to watch the news in order to know if the guy he claims molested him was prosecuted for his allegation.
He simply seemed a bit "too forgetful" for some of their tastes. And of course, the pro-defense observers and some independent observers were just completely exasperated with both this claim and Francia’s admission of being pushed to make up "stuff".
One of them writing to MJEOL: "What? You mean to tell me his *expletive* wouldn’t know if his accusations would put a man on trial? I don’t believe that crap for a minute! What the hell does he mean ‘They made me come up with a lot more stuff?’ Sounds like he’s admitted he’s lied about these allegations."
The badgering of, and lying to, children around Jackson during that 1993 investigation was actually complained about by Jackson’s lawyers in 1993. This fact was written about both by Geraldine Hughes and another author of a Jackson book, Lisa D Campbell.
According to Hughes book Redemption, Jackson then-attorney Bert Fields wrote a letter to police saying the following:
"…your officers have told frightened youngsters outrageous lies, such as, ‘we have nude photos of you,’ to push them into making accusations against Michael Jackson. There are, of course, no such photos of these youngsters, and they have no truthful allegations to make. But the officers appeared ready to employ any device to generate potential evidence against Mr. Jackson" (see Police Lied to Young Children During 1993 Investigation?).
This fits in perfectly with the defense’s contention that the police didn’t want to take no for an answer, and that people – maybe even therapists – worked on J. Francia until he made an allegation against Jackson.
His mother, Blanca Francia, was also cross-examined by Mesereau today. He did get her to make some major admissions on the stand today; one being that not only did she have her hand out for a $2 million settlement, but that years earlier she sold her story for $20,000 to the now defunct tabloid TV show Hard Copy. She was interviewed by Diane Dimond for that show.
By the way Dimond claims she only recently found out how much Francia was paid for that interview. Yeah right.
Taibbi reported on "Chicken-little" Abrams — which has become one of his many nicknames today at various forums — that Mesereau also got Francia to admit she has financial problems up the wazoo at the time she miraculously saw what she claims she saw.
Not only did she sell that story and have her hand out for a settlement, but that she also sold pictures to the tabloids of her son and Michael Jackson. From Taibbi’s comments on Abrams Report:
MIKE TAIBBI: …And here’s where Mesereau did make some inroads. He got her to admit, got the mother to admit that 3 times, her wages had been garnished. That she’d stolen things — taken things without permission from Michael Jackson; watches, other trinkets and samples, she described them.She had been in trouble with the IRS. That she owed stores around town money. That she had gone into a co-worker’s purse without permission to take a look at her paycheck to see how much she was making. And that she had other problems, etc., etc., at the time this so-called snowball effect of cases and claims and accusations against Michael Jackson were all bursting in 1993.She got lawyer-ed up at that point. She talked to Larry Feldman. Mesereau’s trying to bring that in. And he did make some points with her in that regard. But she stuck to her story just as her son had stuck to his story.
Certainly the financial motive was hit hard by the defense. Why was B. Francia talking to Larry Feldman? Why did she steal items from Michael Jackson? Let’s not forget that there were people coming out the woodwork proclaiming to be witnesses to things that they never reported to the police.
All of these people miraculously seeing alleged molestation before their eyes, and not a one of them picked up the phone and called the police? And every last one of these people have a financial motive.
Prosecution pundits want to talk about “smoke”, there’s your smoke right there. And all roads seem to lead back to Jackson’s pocket. Abrams, at one point, actually asked why wouldn’t these people sell their stories, which immediately drew the ire of attorney Ron Richards. Check out this exchange:
ABRAMS:…If you’ve got a story to tell, why not?RON RICHARDS: Because, Dan, most mothers, and I believe you have great parents yourself, would not sell your victimization to a tabloid journalist!TAIBBI: Actually, Ron, it’s more than that. It’s actually more than that. She not only sold her story, she sold a photograph of Michael Jackson and her son because, she said on the stand today, that she didn’t think anybody would recognize him.
So not only did she sell her story, but she sold her kid’s relative anonymity to the highest bidder as well. Another questionable point for a number of observers, both casual and legal, was J. Francia’s convenient memory lapses.
He remembered what he wanted to remember, and didn’t remember some things that seemed incredibly damaging to his testimony. For example, he can remember what color his shorts were he was wearing when he was 7 years old, but can’t remember what he’d said in taped police interviews that the defense asked him about.
Even in interviews taken late last year, his memory was spotty about. Former prosecutor Jim Hammer commented on his convenient memory lapse and how it may affect the jury during a report from Trace Gallagher today (April 5 2005):
Jim Hammer: He’s cross examining [Jason Francia] repeatedly not just about interviews 12 years ago, but about interviews late last year. And about those, the kid continually claims he doesn’t remember things. It’s gonna be hard for the jury to put much weight into his testimony if they think he’s selectively remembering even 5 months ago.
This harkens back to testimony from the current accuser – remember him? – and his brother and sister. They seemed fine under direct questioning. But as soon as Mesereau started to hit them with previous recorded and transcribed statements they made, all of sudden they can’t remember. Isn’t that convenient?
When we get more information, this MiniBullet will probably be updated or a separate one will be created complete with excerpts from the trial transcripts. Stay tuned.