[b]Neverland Manager Speaks at Jackson Trial[/b] By TIM MOLLOY, Associated Press Writer 7 minutes ago SANTA MARIA, Calif. – The property manager at Michael Jackson’s Neverland ranch testified Tuesday that he was never ordered to hold captive the family of the boy who is now accusing the pop star of child molestation. Joe Marcus, a defense witness, testified about an order in the ranch log instructing guards to not let the boy or his brother leave. Marcus said the reason for the order was that the boys often drove vehicles around the property, raising safety concerns. He said he was determined to prevent them from taking the vehicles out onto the open road. “Did you ever receive any instructions from anyone to hold the (family) against their will?” Jackson attorney Robert Sanger asked. “No,” said Marcus. Marcus testified Monday that the family members appeared to be “excited” to be at Neverland and were eager to return to the ranch after going on outings. “Did (the mother) seem to you to want to leave the ranch and she was not allowed to do so?” Sanger asked. “No,” said Marcus. “Did she ever complain to you about anything?” Sanger asked. “Never,” said Marcus. Marcus was among several current and former Neverland employees called by the defense to counter former ranch employees who testified against Jackson during the prosecution case. … The ranch manager testified that he gave the family rides when they wanted to leave the property. “Were you there to guard them?” asked Sanger. “No,” said Marcus. When they went on a shopping trip in nearby Solvang, Marcus said, he stayed at the car while they wandered around the popular Danish-style tourist town shopping for an hour. Sanger asked if there was ever a time during that shopping trip and others when the mother was followed by a “positive PR film crew,” something she described on the witness stand. “Not to my knowledge,” Marcus said. He said he met the family one day at an orthodontist’s office where the accuser and his brother went to have work done on their teeth. He said it was raining and he found the family anxious to get back in the car and return to Neverland when the appointment was over. The mother has said she made up dental needs as a ruse to try to escape. And while the mother testified that she was kept from learning the time at Neverland, Marcus testified there are at least six in view outside and more in various buildings. Marcus, who said he and his father worked for the previous owners of the property, told of improvements Jackson made, including the rides, theater, zoo, train depot and water attractions. He and other ranch employees said they sympathized with the accuser and his family when they first arrived, as the boy was battling cancer. But when the family returned a year later, the employees said, the boys were rambunctious and destructive and got into trouble, crashing golf carts and trying to drive ranch vehicles. Marcus, an 18-year employee, said he never saw Jackson do anything inappropriate to children and never saw anything that would have caused him to report an illegal act to authorities. Jackson left the court hastily after the testimony. His spokeswoman, Raymone K. Bain, said he was in pain from a persistent back problem. She said Jackson’s spirits remain high because of his defense team’s efforts but that the trial in general has made him unhappy. Asked if he would testify, she said, “He would not be opposed to testifying if his attorney says he should.” The spokeswoman was also asked about Jackson’s financial situation, which includes a bank loan of more than $200 million. She said a recent transfer of the loan from Bank of America to new holders did not change any of its original terms. Bain also said Jackson does not plan to sell his share of the valuable Sony-ATV catalogue of popular songs including those of the Beatles. At one point she invoked the name of the late John Lennon as she talked of Jackson seeing things through rose-colored glasses and likened his view of life to the song “Imagine.” “Imagine there’s no hatred,” she said. She said Jackson “wants this to end so he can go on with his life. He wants to get back to what he does, making people happy.” Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050510/ap_en_mu/michael_jackson

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