Accuser’s cousin rebuts prosecution claims about alcohol

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[b]THE JACKSON TRIAL: Accuser’s cousin rebuts prosecution claims about alcohol[/b] 5/18/05 By DAWN HOBBS NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER Attacking the credibility of Michael Jackson’s accuser, the defense put the entertainer’s cousin on the witness stand Tuesday to rebut prosecution claims that the boy and his brother drank alcohol only when the entertainer gave it to them. Simone Jackson testified that she saw the adolescent boys each steal a bottle of wine from Mr. Jackson’s kitchen at Neverland Valley Ranch in March 2003. The 16-year-old told jurors she was up late playing a video game in the kitchen when she saw the boys sneak in and grab the bottles and wine glasses. “I told them they weren’t supposed to do that, and they told me to be quiet and not say anything.” The testimony in the Santa Maria courtroom directly conflicts with that of the boys, who both insisted they never touched what the entertainer calls “Jesus juice” unless he gave it to them. … The cousin’s statements back those of two witnesses this week who linked the boys to drinking at the ranch during their monthlong stay. Today, the girl’s 12-year-old brother is expected to testify that he walked in on the boys at a guest unit at the ranch and saw both perusing adult material and masturbating, News-Press sources said. Defense lawyers have called 28 witnesses during the past 10 days in an attempt to negate the prosecution’s charges that Mr. Jackson conspired to hold the family captive in February 2003 until they agreed to participate in a video. Afterward, prosecutors allege, Mr. Jackson molested the boy in his king-sized bed during the second week in March 2003. In a further effort to rebut the conspiracy claim, CNN talk show host Larry King is expected to testify Thursday and comedian Jay Leno is expected to testify early next week, News-Press sources said. The celebrities’ testimony is expected to support defense assertions that the mother has a history of trying to separate stars from their cash. The defense contends the woman made up the allegations against Mr. Jackson after a failed attempt to get money from him. Film and TV actress Vernee Watson is expected to take the stand today to tell jurors that she denied the mother’s request for money and a place to live. Also on Tuesday, two Los Angeles social workers testified that they interviewed the mother in February 2003, during the time of the alleged conspiracy, but she never told them her family was in danger. They said she initially requested to be interviewed at Neverland and did nothing but praise the entertainer, calling him a “father figure” and giving him credit for helping her son’s cancer go into remission. The interview with Irene Peters and her supervisor, Karen Walker, was conducted Feb. 20, 2003. The women testified that their mission was to investigate whether the mother had been negligent by letting her children sleep with Mr. Jackson. But in the interview at her boyfriend’s apartment, the mother told the social workers nothing untoward had occurred. Ms. Peters testified that the mother told her the family could no longer stay in their East Los Angeles studio apartment because of the media attention generated by the British documentary “Living with Michael Jackson,” in which the entertainer is shown holding hands with her son. The mother said she was forced to hide out at her boyfriend’s place and at Neverland. “She was appalled by the attention her children were receiving because of the documentary,” Ms. Peters said. “. . . She was upset because she didn’t give consent for her children to be on TV.” Ms. Peters said she advised the woman to talk to an attorney. The mother has testified that neither social worker took notes or filed a report because they were concerned that Mr. Jackson might sue them. However, both defense co-counsel Robert Sanger and Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon had a copy of an official report completed by the social workers. Source:

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