Jackson witnesses portray family as rude, greedy

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[b]Jackson witnesses portray family as rude, greedy [/b] May 16, 9:07 PM (ET) By Dan Whitcomb SANTA MARIA, Calif. (Reuters) – Michael Jackson’s accuser drank alcohol, his younger brother secreted a stash of porn magazines and his mother drove off for a body wax at the singer’s expense at the time the family claims they were being held at Neverland, defense witnesses told jurors on Monday. Jackson’s lawyers called a series of witnesses designed to tear down the credibility of the pop star’s teenage accuser and his family, portraying them as rude, dishonest, greedy, and, in one case, violent. Several witnesses painted the mother, who the defense claims is a grifter who saw celebrities as fat targets, as desperate to attach herself to Jackson and eager to flaunt her newfound status as a guest in his home. “(The mother) said that Michael Jackson was like a father figure to her children and she wanted them to call him Dad,” Neverland housekeeper Maria Gomez said. “She said that he had been a blessing to them and that he was like a father to her children.” The testimony was a bid by Jackson’s lawyers to destroy the family’s credibility and convince jurors that they fabricated claims of molestation and false imprisonment at Neverland so they could extort money from the 46-year-old entertainer. Gomez said that while cleaning a guest room assigned to the accuser’s brother and sister she found a backpack full of pornographic magazines that she assumed belonged to the boy. Prosecutors say it was Jackson who showed the brothers pornography. On cross-examination Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss tried unsuccessfully to get Gomez to say Jackson might have given them the magazines. BATTLE OVER BODY WAX Administrative assistant Katie Bernerd said the mother would routinely call her with requests, once demanding to be taken into town for a body wax within the hour. On the way there, Bernerd said, “She was telling me how well Michael had been treating her and how he was a father figure to her kids. She was pretty much praising Michael.” Though the trip to the day spa came on Feb. 11, 2003, at a time when the family claims they were being held against their will at Neverland, Bernerd said she dropped the mother there for an hour and that the woman made no effort to leave. Bernerd said Jackson paid for the treatment. The trip to the day spa has become an odd point of contention in the trial, with lead defense attorney Tom Mesereau raising it in his opening statement. The mother angrily insisted during her testimony that she got only a hair-removing leg wax — not a full body wax — and claimed Jackson did not really pay for it because his aides had lost an equivalent amount of her luggage. The bill for the cosmetic treatment was displayed in court on Monday and included a brow wax, lip wax, face wax and bikini wax for a total of $140. Jurors also heard from Neverland security guard Shane Meridith, who said he caught Jackson’s accuser and his brother drinking in the superstar’s wine cellar and assistant chef Angel Vivanco, who testified that the younger boy once ordered him to add alcohol to a milkshake or he would have him fired. [b]Vivanco said the younger boy once held a large knife up to his neck for no apparent reason, which made him “nervous.” Defense attorneys say Vivanco had a brief romance with the now 19-year-old sister of Jackson’s accuser, who they say confided in him that her mother was “psycho.”[/b] Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville has not yet decided if the young man can testify about that conversation. Source: http://reuters.myway.com/article/20050517/2005-05-17T010741Z_01_N16493077_RTRIDST_0_NEWS-CRIME-JACKSON-DC.html

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