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Jackson Jury May Get Case Today

Michael Jackson departs the Santa Barbara County Courthouse following proceedings in his child molestation trial Thursday, May 26, 2005 in Santa Maria, Calif. (AP Photo/Hector Mata, Pool)
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It's most likely only a matter of hours before the jury in the Michael Jackson child molestation case begins deliberating his fate.

Thursday, as he left the courthouse in Santa Maria, Calif., after a day of closing arguments, the pop star said he's "OK."

The proceedings recessed for the day in the middle of the defense closing argument.

Jackson lawyer Thomas Mesereau Jr. told the jury that the family of the singer's accuser is made up of "con artists, actors and liars." He says the real issue is whether the family is credible.

But that's only one of two stories that were told in closing arguments at the Jackson trial Thursday, reports CBS News' Teri Okita. One about a singer scammed by opportunists; the other of a dangerous pedophile who preyed on young boys.

The prosecution, earlier in the day, said the idea that the accuser's mom made up the story is "nonsense" - saying Jackson followed a pattern of abuse, carefully choosing the boys he wanted to molest. It says Jackson brought the accuser into "a world of the forbidden."

After Mesereau finishes his closing argument Friday, the prosecution will deliver a rebuttal, and then the jury will begin its deliberations.

The prosecution told jurors "this case is about the exploitation and sexual abuse of a 13-year-old cancer survivor by an international celebrity."

Senior Deputy District attorney Ron Zonen said it was Jackson, 46, who initiated contact with the accuser, brought the boy "into the world of the forbidden" in his bedroom and molested him.

Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau countered that the accuser's family consisted of "con artists, actors and liars." He said prosecutors revealed the weakness of their case by attacking him during their closing argument.

"Whenever a prosecutor does that you know they're in trouble," Mesereau told the panel, which is expected to get the case on Friday. "This is not a popularity contest between lawyers."

In a methodical closing argument, Zonen berated Jackson and his attorneys, stood by the testimony of the accuser's mother, and used charts and graphics to show what he said was a pattern of criminal behavior.

Zonen argued for nearly two hours before he even brought up child molestation, focusing first on a complicated conspiracy alleging Jackson sought to hold the accuser's family against their will.

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

Zonen 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, (the mother), after learning Michael Jackson was giving her son alcohol, in 36 hours she had her children out of there," Zonen said.

"Frankly, he's saying to the jury, he looks like a pedophile because he is a pedophile," said legal analyst Laurie Levenson.

Mesereau said the real issue was "whether the accuser's family was credible," and he tore into the prosecutor's claim that the boy's mother wasn't out for money, repeatedly returning to the refrain, "Was she asking for money?"

He noted there was testimony that the mother asked actor Chris Tucker for a truck, that she sued J.C. Penney for allegedly being roughed up by guards, and sought welfare right after receiving a $152,000 settlement in the department store lawsuit.

"When she filed for emergency welfare 10 days after getting her (settlement), was she asking for money?" Mesereau asked. "If you do not believe (the family) beyond a reasonable doubt, Mr. Jackson must be acquitted. That's the law."

The prosecutor acknowledged she fraudulently applied for welfare after receiving a large settlement in a lawsuit, but asserted that was the only thing she had been proven to have done wrong in her life.

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