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Jackson Case Set For Final Push

One of Michael Jackson's defense attornys, Robert Sanger, checks his watch as he arrives at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, Tuesday, May 31, 2005 in Santa Maria, Calif. in Jackson's trial on charges of child molestation. Closing arguments in the case could begin as early as Wednesday, and jurors could get the case before the week is out. (AP Photo/Michael A. Mariant)
AP
Attorneys in the Michael Jackson child molestation trial began discussions Tuesday on the wording of instructions that will be given to the jury before the beginning of deliberations.

Closing arguments could begin as early as Wednesday, and jurors could get the case before the week is out.

District Attorney Tom Sneddon told the court that prosecutors were seeking fewer instructions than they initially wanted because some instructions referred to witnesses who were not called.

However, much of the discussion was done without elaboration of the issues involved. Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville asked attorneys on each side whether they wanted a specific instruction, but referred to each item by number without describing the content.

Neither Jackson nor the jury were present during Tuesday's court session. Jackson's lead attorney, Thomas Mesereau Jr., who will deliver the defense closing argument, also was not present.

Jackson's attorneys were expected to ask Melville for standard jury instructions, saying jurors may reject the entire testimony of a witness they think has lied about a key point.

The defense has tried since the beginning of the case to portray the boy who accused Jackson of molesting him and the boy's family as grifters who targeted Jackson.

"They put on a pretty compelling defense case," said Court TV's Savannah Guthrie on CBS News' The Early Show. "I think he just needs to tell jurors, look at this family, look hard at them, are they credible, can you believe them?"

As for the prosecution, Guthrie told Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler they need to tell the jurors that they can believe this witness by saying that it does not seem like a coached or rehearsed performance.

"If this boy is acting, then he is an Oscar-caliber actor," was how Gurthrie summarized the prosecution's argument.

Both sides rested Friday after prosecutors played for jurors a videotape of the first law enforcement interview with the boy. Defense attorneys had said they might call the boy, his mother, and others back to the stand to question them about the tape, but instead abruptly rested their case.

On the tape, the boy slumped in his chair as he described the alleged molestation in a low, halting voice. He asked investigators not to tell his mother what he had told them.

"The tape was raw, powerful, and emotional," says . "The tape surely fills out and softens the image of Jackson's accuser that jurors will take with them into the jury room later this week. And in that sense, its presentation to the jury near the end of the case is a great move for prosecutors who had seemed until this moment at trial to be always and obviously one step behind their defense counterparts."

Guthrie said it would have been an incredibly risky thing for the do for the defense to call the chief complaining witness for the prosecution as the very last thing that the jurors would hear.

"I think Tom Mesereau decided to just stop the bleeding and let's get to closing arguments," she said.

"I think those 12 jurors are going to have a very difficult time deciding this case, and really, there is not any result here that would surprise me, whether it be guilty, not guilty, or a hung jury," Guthrie added.

Jackson, 46, is charged with molesting the then-13-year-old boy in February or March 2003, giving him wine and conspiring to hold his family captive to get them to rebut a documentary in which Jackson said he let children into his bed but insisted it was non-sexual.

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