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End To Jackson Trial Saga Nears

By the end of Friday, the Michael Jackson child molestation case should be in the hands of the jury.

Before that, however, reports CBS News Correspondent Steve Futterman, both sides will have one last chance to argue their cases.

It boils down to a matter of credibility.

"If the jury believes the family, Michael Jackson is going to be convicted, and if they don't then he's going to be acquitted," says Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen.

The crowd was larger and louder as Jackson arrived at the Santa Maria courthouse Thursday for closing arguments, reports CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales. Prosecutors were booed as they arrived.

But that didn't stop Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen from launching an impassioned, rapid fire attack, implying Jackson was a homosexual and calling him a "predator."

He said at Neverland the accuser and his brother "entered the world of the forbidden, and they learned about human sexuality from someone very willing to be their teacher."

On the other hand, the prosecutors portrayed Jackson as a hard-drinking, porn-collecting pedophile to "dirty up" the pop star because they couldn't prove their case that he molested a child, Jackson's lawyer said in his closing arguments.

Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. was to conclude his argument Friday, followed by a prosecution rebuttal. The case will then go to the jury, which is likely to have a few hours to deliberate before taking off for the weekend.

"Closing arguments is when you can really tell a story and tie it all together," said University of Southern California law professor Jean Rosenbluth. "Zonen did that very well."

Zonen said Jackson lowered the boy's inhibitions by giving him alcohol and showing him pornography before molesting him in the bedroom of the entertainer's Neverland Ranch.

The defense countered that the accuser's family consisted of "con artists, actors and liars," adding that the prosecution showed the weakness of its case by personally attacking Mesereau during closing arguments.

"Whenever a prosecutor does that you know they're in trouble," Mesereau told jurors. "This is not a popularity contest between lawyers."

"This jury seemed to pay equal attention to them both," said CBS News Analyst Trent Copeland. "They were rapt in attention, taking very close notes. It was hard to tell whether any one argument seemed to be better for this jury."

Prosecutors, Mesereau said, also engaged in a "nasty attempt, a barbaric attempt" to attack Jackson personally by bringing up his financial problems, alcohol consumption, collection of adult magazines and "sagging music career."

Jackson, who looked glum 24 hours earlier, said "I'm OK" as he left court Thursday.

But courtroom observer Anne Bremner, a former prosecutor, says there's been a real change in Jackson since the start of the start of the trial, when he looked confident.

"He's gotten thinner. He's looked stricken in the last few days. His family has even looked somber. And he just sits still in court, motionless," she told CBS News Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen. "And I think he knows there is almost a sense of fear in him in the last few days."

The 46-year-old entertainer is charged with molesting the boy in 2003, plying him with wine and conspiring to hold his family captive to get them to rebut the documentary "Living With Michael Jackson." In the documentary, Jackson holds hands with the boy and says he allows children into his bed for innocent, non-sexual sleepovers.

Zonen said it was toward the end of a period in which the accuser and his family stayed at Neverland that "the behavior had turned to something terribly illegal."

He said Jackson began giving the boy alcohol and even though his mother at that time was unaware of any molestation, she insisted that her family leave Neverland.

"For all her shortcomings, after learning Michael Jackson was giving her son alcohol, in 36 hours she had her children out of there," Zonen said.

Mesereau said the real issue was "whether the accuser's family was credible," and tore into the prosecutor's claim that the boy's mother wasn't out for money.

He said the mother had asked celebrities for financial help, sued J.C. Penney after alleging that guards beat her family, and applied for welfare 10 days after getting a $152,000 settlement from the department store.

"If you do not believe (the family) beyond a reasonable doubt, Mr. Jackson must be acquitted. That's the law," Mesereau said.

Jackson's spokeswoman said he was pleased with his lawyer's efforts.

"Michael's spirits were up today, and he feels he's doing an excellent job," said Raymone K. Bain.

"Both sides have reason to be satisfied after a full day of argument," says Cohen. "Prosecutors got across their main point, which is that Jackson had the motive, the opportunity and the intent to prey on the alleged victim in the case. And the defense had enough time before the end of the day to tell jurors that the alleged victim and his mother both have lied many times in and out of court."

Zonen acknowledged that the mother fraudulently applied for welfare while trying to support three children, but asserted that was the only thing she had ever done that was proven to be wrong.

The prosecutor ridiculed the idea the boy's mother could have made up the entire molestation story and prompted her children to lie in order to make money with a future lawsuit against Jackson.

"It's unmitigated rubbish," he said.

"If the jurors weren't struggling before about the contrasting patterns in the case, they certainly are after a day's worth of talking by attorneys," says Cohen. "Prosecutors took the evidence and used it to portray Jackson as a serial sex predator. The defense took much of that same evidence and used it to portray Jackson as a victim of a family on the make."