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Jackson Defends Self, Off Stand

In what some experts are calling a brilliant defense move, Michael Jackson defended himself Thursday, but did so without taking the stand. Jurors heard never-released outtakes that were taped along with the Martin Bashir documentary that the pop singer's case has made legendary.

Jackson's defense team played a short series of the outtakes from the now-infamous documentary that led to these current child-abuse charges, CBS' Teri Okita reports.

At one point Bashir effusively praised Jackson as a parent.

"Your relationship to your children is spectacular," Bashir said. "It almost makes me weep."

In the documentary, however, Bashir expressed strong concern about Jackson's parenting.

Also Thursday, two men who took over Michael Jackson's management in 2003 were discovered to have diverted $965,000 of the singer's assets, a lawyer testified Thursday as part of a defense attack on conspiracy allegations in the child molestation case against the pop star.

David LeGrand testified that he rapidly became suspicious of the motives of Jackson's associates, echoing earlier testimony by the singer's ex-wife Deborah Rowe, who said her former husband was a victim of "opportunistic vultures" in his inner circle.

LeGrand said he had been brought in to straighten out a maze of transactions involving Jackson when he met the two men, Ronald Konitzer and Dieter Wiesner, who he said were determined to manage all of Jackson's affairs.

"I became concerned that they were in a position to divert funds," LeGrand said, describing how he requested documentation of what they were doing.

In outtakes of the video, Jackson describes his troubled childhood, denied being "weird" and explains that he loved children and would never harm them, Okita reports.

While some legal analysts say this tape negates any need for Jackson to testify, others still think he will.

"He has educated the jury as to who he is. He has gotten them used to him," Court Observer Susan Filan said. "He no longer has to make a first impression when he takes the stand."

Meanwhile, LeGrand said he wasn't behind any conspiracy to hold the accuser and his family captive, making a rebuttal to the damning documentary.

"I began to disagree with Mr. Konitzer's decisions and felt he was making bad decisions. I became suspicious of his motives and his actions," the witness said.

When the accounting report came back, he said, "There were hundreds of thousands of dollars dispersed to Ronald Konitzer and Dieter Wiesner."

LeGrand said he quickly wrote a letter to Konitzer asking him to account for $965,000.

"Did you ever find out what he did with the money?" asked defense lawyer Thomas Mesereau Jr.

"No. I was terminated by Mr. Jackson within two weeks of that letter," LeGrand said.

Jackson is accused of molesting a boy in 2003 and plying him with wine. He is also charged with conspiring to hold the boy's family captive to get them to rebut a documentary in which the boy appeared with Jackson, who said he let children sleep in his bed but it was non-sexual.

Only Jackson is charged in the case, but prosecutors named Konitzer and Wiesner among a group of Jackson associates described as unindicted co-conspirators.

LeGrand provided jurors with an insider's view of associates he believed were trying to use Jackson for their own benefit.

As Mesereau quizzed him on various people who raised his suspicions, LeGrand finally smiled and said, "I became suspicious of everybody. It seemed everybody wanted to benefit from Michael Jackson in one way or another."

He spoke of Jackson's contracts with Sony-ATV, a valuable music catalogue that includes works of the Beatles, and of proposals that were made at various times for deals with producer Robert Evans and actor Marlon Brando on projects that could have raised money for Jackson.

"His financial affairs were fairly complex and there was not a lot of liquidity there," LeGrand said.

LeGrand said he suggested to Jackson that he sell his share of the Sony-ATV catalogue, which would have brought him $200 million (euro156.6 million) at the time and could have alleviated the financial pressure.

LeGrand said pressures escalated within the Jackson camp when the documentary "Living With Michael Jackson" was released in Britain and the singer's aides began a damage-control effort by taping a rebuttal video then known as "Take 2."

He said he was only peripherally involved in the project but knew that it was going on.

LeGrand also said that on at least one occasion he met the mother of the boy who would later accuse Jackson of molestation. He said she was at Jackson's Neverland ranch on the day that a "60 Minutes" crew came to interview Jackson.

"There were a lot of people in and out of the ranch that day," LeGrand said. "It was quite a zoo, so to speak."

He said the mother "seemed satisfied with being there. She expressed support for Mr. Jackson."

The attorney described her children as "boisterous kids, running through the house ... having a pretty good time."

Mesereau asked LeGrand if he had any knowledge that the family was being held against their will and he said no.

Mesereau sought to show that Jackson had continuous opportunities to raise money if he needed it, including a proposal from Sony to do a Christmas song for $10 million (euro7.83 million).

LeGrand then told of going to a dinner at the home of Evans, who was proposing a movie biography on Jackson's life. He said there were also discussions with Marlon Brando about doing a TV special with the two stars, but nothing came of either proposal.

"I ultimately did speak to Marlon Brando and his counsel about putting together some sort of program but it never got off the ground," he said.