Ex Calls Jackson A 'Great Person'

Michael Jackson's ex-wife Deborah Rowe testified Thursday in his child molestation trial that Jackson is a "great person and a great father" and that she believed some of the pop star's associates named as unindicted co-conspirators in the case were "vultures" trying to exploit him.

Rowe's testimony had resumed for a second day under a cloud as Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville considered an unexplained defense motion to strike her testimony. But after a morning of more testimony favorable to Jackson, defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. suddenly withdrew the motion.

"Jackson ought to be sending flowers to his ex-wife because she rode to his rescue in court," said CBS News Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen. "Answer after answer, she helped the defense, she hurt prosecutors and the police, and she left the case against Jackson much worse than she found it."

Rowe's testimony was at times teary and sometimes salty and sarcastic at one point saying "damn you" to prosecutors in an apparent misunderstanding about a question. She criticized lawyers in their lives and acknowledged she has said she believes Jackson is easily manipulated.

Rowe, the mother of two of Jackson's children, seemed to lament the state of their relationship when Mesereau asked if she still considered Jackson a friend.

"Yeah," she said, adding, "if he'd talk to me."

At one point she almost engaged in a dialogue with Jackson. Asked when she had gone on tour with Jackson, she looked to the defendant and asked, "What was the tour after 'Bad?' Was it the 'HIStory' tour or 'Dangerous?' Oh, it was 'Dangerous."'

She became tearful when she described her feelings about Jackson.

"There's different Michaels. There's like my Michael and the Michael that everyone else sees," she said.

Jackson dabbed at his eyes as she spoke.

"That would be Michael the entertainer?" Mesereau asked.

"Michael the entertainer, yeah," Rowe said.

The motion to strike Rowe's testimony followed her testimony Wednesday when she had contradicted what the prosecution promised the jury she would say about a video made on the pop star's behalf.

It was not known if that conflict was the reason for the motion. The issue was discussed by attorneys in chambers and the judge then said in open court that he was putting off his decision.

"She hasn't testified long enough for me to hear what she's going to say," the judge said. "I understand what she said yesterday, but I don't really know what she has to say today."

Rowe had said Wednesday that she agreed to make the video to help rebut a damaging TV documentary because she wanted to help the singer and she also hoped to see their two children. She also denied that her remarks in the video were scripted.

She only testified for about 40 minutes on Wednesday, but almost every answer she gave caused reporters to gasp, reports CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales. The drama began the moment Rowe took the stand and identified herself as "Deborah Rowe Jackson." She also quickly called her ex a friend.

"When Debbie Rowe came on the witness stand, she did everything the prosecution didn't want her to do," said CBS News Legal Analyst Trent Copeland. "This suggests to me that either this is a prosecution that, at the end of their case, is either scrambling for witnesses or they really can't control their witnesses."

District Attorney Tom Sneddon told the jury in opening statements that Rowe would tell them her remarks were scripted, just as the mother of Jackson's accuser has claimed about a video her family made praising Jackson.


Prosecutors called Rowe to bolster their claim that Jackson conspired to hold the family of his accuser captive to get them to rebut the documentary, in which the singer said he lets children sleep in his bed, albeit non-sexually.

Rowe reiterated Thursday that she did not use a script when she recorded the video interview. She said that at some point she was asked to rephrase answers to make them clearer, but agreed to change the answers "only if it didn't change the meaning of what I had to say."

"And what was the meaning of what you had to say?" asked prosecutor Ron Zonen.

"Michael is a great person and a great father, generous and caring," Rowe said.

Zonen then asked a series of questions about statements she made on the tape that were not true.

She acknowledged that she represented herself as part of Jackson's family even though at that time she was not. But she said she did consider herself part of the family.

Asked why she was willing to help Jackson, she said, "I was eager to do it because I would get to see my children and possibly renew a relationship with Mr. Jackson."

Zonen also asked question designed to show she had no recent knowledge of Jackson's parenting skills at the time of the interview.

"How long had it been since you had seen your children?" Zonen asked."About 2½ years," she said.

She said that after the interview there was some discussion with Jackson associate Marc Schaffel about when she would see her children. Schaffel is among men named by prosecutors as unindicted co-conspirators in the case.

She said he told her they would soon arrange a visit to Jackson's Neverland ranch and that she waited to push the issued because "I didn't want to be a nudge."

On cross-examination Mesereau tried to show that some of the men who prosecutors say tried to conspire with Jackson may have been working against him.

Mesereau asked Rowe if she had told sheriff's deputies that she believed Schaffel and German businessmen Dieter Wiesner and Ronald Konitzer were trying to exploit Jackson's name to make money. Wiesner and Konitzer are also named as unindicted co-conspirators.

"Oh yeah," Rowe replied.

She used an expletive to describe Schaffel and said he was "talking out of both sides of his mouth, telling me one thing and telling Mr. Jackson something else."

Asked about the relationship of Schaffel, Wiesner and Konitzer to Jackson, she said, "I think they're opportunistic vultures."

When asked who else she considered to be a vulture, she paused and prosecutors objected.

"It looks like she's got a long list. I think I'll sustain the objection," the judge said.

At one point Mesereau asked Rowe if she was aware that the Sheriff's Department had recorded her.

Looking surprised, she turned to the prosecution table and said, "You did? You did? No, I didn't know that. Damn you guys. You don't share anything."

Further questioning suggested the recording was an interview with an investigator that Rowe actually knew was recorded.

"The problem for prosecutors is that they had to gain ground with Debbie Rowe. They needed her to tie together some of the strands of their case against Jackson, and instead of doing that they very clearly lost ground,'' said Legal Analyst Cohen. "Meanwhile they are running out of time before the end of their case and they just won't have many more of these opportunities."