[b]Defense paints accuser’s mother as welfare cheat[/b] 5/24/05 By DAWN HOBBS NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER In an effort to destroy the credibility of the mother of Michael Jackson’s accuser, the defense called witnesses Monday who said the mother may have fraudulently collected welfare checks and exploited her son’s grave illness for money. The woman’s former sister-in-law tearfully testified that when the mother learned about her blood drive for the ill boy, she called and said, “She didn’t need my (expletive) blood — she needed money.” An El Monte newspaper editor, Connie Keenan, testified the mother repeatedly bugged them to do another article about her son’s illness when she didn’t make enough money from the first one. Then, when a newspaper intern brought the family a turkey, the mother said she wanted money instead of food. According to the testimony of a CPA and a welfare eligibility worker, the mother received $32,000 from a civil suit just before she applied for emergency welfare on Nov. 15, 2001. She also never reported the numerous financial gifts she received from celebrities or that Mr. Jackson spent more than $7,000 on her family for food, clothing and luxuries like body waxes while they were reportedly being held captive at Neverland from February through mid-March 2003, when the woman stopped collecting welfare. The testimony allowed the defense to get around the mother invoking her Fifth Amendment rights earlier in the trial and to introduce testimony about the possibility that she committed welfare fraud and perjury. As the defense case is nearing its end, the testimony was intended to solidify the defense assertion that the accuser and his family are grifters who targeted Mr. Jackson. The defense lawyers insist the mother made up the allegations and then coached her children to support her after a failed attempt to get money from the entertainer. While the defense has maintained Mr. Jackson is a victim of a predatory family, the prosecution has insisted it’s the entertainer who preyed upon the boy and his family. A couple of welfare mistakes by the mother does not negate the validity of the alleged molestation, prosecutors say. So far, 38 witnesses have testified for the defense as the high-profile trial enters its 13th week. The defense team, now in the third week of its case, is expected to rest within days because the judge is not allowing the testimony of several witnesses. The prosecution is then prepared to put on what will likely be a three-day rebuttal followed by a brief rebuttal by the defense before jurors hear closing arguments, receive instructions for deliberation and then retreat behind closed doors to decide Mr. Jackson’s fate. Mr. Jackson has pleaded not guilty to child molestation, administering alcohol to a minor to commit a felony and conspiracy, charges which could bring up to 18 years in prison if convicted. Today, comedian Jay Leno is expected to testify that he became suspicious the family had targeted him for money when the boy called and he could hear his mother in the background coaching him. On Wednesday or Thursday, actor Chris Tucker is expected to tell jurors about how much he did for the family and that they were never held against their will at Neverland Valley Ranch as the prosecution alleges. Dawn Hobbs is also an analyst for NBC News. CASE FILE MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS: Defense witnesses portrayed the mother of the boy who accused Michael Jackson of molestation as a welfare cheat. WHAT’S NEXT: Comedian Jay Leno is expected to be called today as a defense witness. QUOTE OF THE DAY: “She didn’t need my (expletive) blood — she needed money.” — The former sister-in-law of the accuser’s mother, on what the mother said to her when she organized a blood drive for the accuser, who was battling cancer. Source: http://news.newspress.com/topsports/052405jackson.htm

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