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John Travolta May Take Witness Stand in Bahamas Extortion Case

(AP Photo/Rogers & Cowan)
Photo: Actor John Travolta poses with daughter Ella Bleu, son Jett, and wife Kelly Preston.

NASSAU, Bahamas (CBS/AP) John Travolta could take the stand against a senator and an ambulance driver who allegedly attempted to extort $25 million from the star immediately following his son's sudden death in the Bahamas.

A jury was selected Monday for the trial against former Bahamas Senator Pleasant Bridgewater and paramedic Tarino Lightbourne, who have pleaded innocent to charges including conspiracy to commit extortion.

The defendants allegedly threatened to release a document related to the treatment of his chronically ill son Jett.

The nine-person jury is expected to begin hearing evidence Tuesday, but prosecutors declined to say when Travolta might take the stand or whether he is in the country.

Travolta's attorneys referred calls to his publicist, Paul Bloch, who said he would not comment on the actor's plans because "this is an ongoing criminal matter."

Travolta's testimony would mark a break from the low profile that Travolta and his wife, actress Kelly Preston, have kept since their 16-year-old son died from a seizure at a family vacation home on Grand Bahama Island on Jan. 2.

Travolta, 55, skipped the publicity tour this summer for his latest film, "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3." He posted a note on his personal Web site in June thanking his co-stars for their efforts to promote the picture, which gave the family additional time to grieve.

Before the start of jury selection, defense lawyers argued unsuccessfully for a delay, saying they needed more time to press prosecutors to hand over evidence.

A hearing is scheduled before another judge Wednesday on their request for materials that reportedly include recordings of the defendants' conversations with a lawyer for Travolta.

The pair allegedly threatened Travolta with a document that would have released emergency responders from liability if the family refused an ambulance. However, police said that did not happen in Jett's case. It is unclear why the pair allegedly believed Travolta would pay to keep the document from being released.

Both defendants have been free on bail.

Jett Travolta had a history of seizures and was found unconscious in a bathroom. A Bahamas undertaker said the death certificate listed seizure as the cause of death.
  • Sammy Saltzman

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