Jackson Defense May Wrap Soon

Two sources close to Michael Jackson have told CBS News that the singer's defense team could rest their case as early as next Friday, reports CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales.

A Jackson spokeswoman has denied that plan, but his attorneys have told the judge that they've pared down their witness list from the original 250 names.

"I think they are ahead of the game," said CBS News Legal Analyst Mickey Sherman on CBS News' The Early Show. "I think they get a good sense they're doing well, that it's their case to lose."

A source close to the defense says they're eliminating many of the big stars it was thought would come to Santa Maria to speak for Jackson, reports Gonzales. They are concerned that a series of character witnesses would open the door to prosecutors to counter with more witnesses who would trash Jackson.

The defense also fears that celebrities like Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and Barry Gibb of the Bee-Gees could get the same treatment as Wade Robson, a young man who testified that he shared a bed with Jackson as a boy but nothing ever happened. Prosecutors forced him to go through pornographic magazines and photos of nude boys found in the singer's house.

Gonzales added that sources said that nothing upset Jackson more in the trial than what he saw Robson go through on the stand. It was very humiliating, for both Robson and Jackson.

As for whether Jackson himself will testify, Court TV Correspondent Savannah Guthrie said that it's a logical assumption that he won't if they think they can rest as early as next Friday.

"If he were to take the stand, I can guarantee you he'd be on the stand for days," Guthrie said on The Early Show.

"It's a decision they probably still have not made," said Sherman "They'll wait to the last minute."

In court on Wednesday, Michael Jackson's 12-year-old cousin testified in the singer's child molestation trial that he saw Jackson's accuser steal wine and money and secretly watch pornography on television while masturbating.

Rijo Jackson said the accuser's brother — a key prosecution witness — also took part in the misbehavior during visits to Michael Jackson's Neverland ranch.

The defense elicited the testimony Wednesday in an apparent effort to show that the accuser engaged in sexual activity and drank alcohol without Jackson's involvement.

Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy in February or March 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 damaging documentary in which Jackson said he let children sleep in his bed but that it was non-sexual.

Thursday's witnesses were expected to include CNN talk show host Larry King. The defense said King will testify that an attorney who has represented the accuser's family had expressed doubts about their credibility.

Before King can testify however, a hearing must be held to determine if his testimony will or will not be allowed, reports Gonzales.


Guthrie told Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm that there are three reasons to suggest a big question on whether King will testify. She said there could be a hearsay problem, it may be improper opinion evidence that the judge has already indicated he isn't in favor of letting in and King is a reporter who can claim California's reporter shield law.

On Wednesday, Rijo Jackson said that in 2003 he was with the brothers in a guest unit when they turned the TV to a channel showing naked women, began masturbating and suggested he do the same.

The witness said he declined and instead went to Michael Jackson's room to tell him what the boys were watching on TV.

"He didn't believe it. He thought they were cool and they wouldn't do that," Rijo.

Under cross-examination by prosecutor Ron Zonen, Rijo said he was scared to tell Michael Jackson about the masturbation.

He also said he spent the night in bed with his cousin.

"Did you do that often?" asked Zonen.

"Yes," said Rijo.

Rijo also testified that he saw the boys steal wine, go through drawers in the house and take money that belonged to a chef and to another employee.

In other testimony, actress Vernee Watson Johnson said she became suspicious of the accuser's mother while planning efforts to raise money to help the boy when he was battling cancer in 2000.

The former "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" star was called to support the defense claim that the mother has a history of schemes to get money from celebrities and Jackson was another target.

Johnson testified that she had been an acting teacher for the boy and was asked to help raise money for him. She said she abandoned that effort, however, after the mother refused to set up a special bank account for donations to her son — seeking instead to have the money put directly into her account.

Also testifying was Christian Robinson, who participated in interviews of the accuser's family and Jackson's former wife, Deborah Rowe.

The accuser's mother claims Jackson's associates scripted an interview in which they praised Jackson, but Robinson said there were no scripts. He said he did write questions for Rowe's interview but that her answers and those of the family were spontaneous.

"Was there anything that you saw that indicated she was unwilling to do the interview?" defense attorney Robert Sanger asked about the accuser's mother.

"She was adamant about wanting to do the interview," Robinson said, but he added that she was hesitant to sign a release form that would allow the video to be aired.