A source close to Michael Jackson tells CBS News that Jackson is "relieved" the defense case is over and he is cautiously optimistic as the child molestation trial winds down, reports Correspondent Vince Gonzales. However, the source says the singer had hoped the defense would end with more of a bang.
Jackson's lawyers called witnesses including Jay Leno, Macaulay Culkin and Chris Tucker as the defense sought to portray the young accuser and his mother as gold-digging schemers who made up allegations that the singer molested the boy.
Before the jury gets the case, prosecutors will present a rebuttal, the defense gets some rebuttal time of its own, and then attorneys present their closing arguments.
The jurors may once again see and hear the alleged victim in person or on videotape or both, reports CBS News Correspondent Steve Futterman. The prosecution, which is trying to shift the focus of the case back to the issue of molestation, wants the jurors to watch a videotape interview of the boy, conducted by law enforcement officials in 2003. Jackson's attorneys oppose the move and say if the tape is shown they may call the accuser back to the witness stand.
"I don't think the defense would want to call the accuser to the stand. You don't want the last witness to be the accuser," warned former Santa Barbara prosecutor Craig Smith.
A Jackson source told CBS News the defense is very concerned about the tape because it shows the first time the accuser confessed to authorities that he believed he was molested. It's apparently very emotional and Jackson's defense team is worried it could sway the jury.
"Boy, that child was so credible on the stand," said CBS News Legal Analyst Wendy Murphy, a former prosecutor.
"No question, the biggest problem they have is this young man looking at that jury and saying, 'that guy touched me,'" agreed CBS News Legal Analyst Mickey Sherman.
On Wednesday, defense attorney Robert Sanger argued prosecutors should have shown the tape when they were presenting their case. They only want to show it now, he said, to try to end the trial with a dramatic flourish.
"It's a way to have (the boy) come back and testify without cross-examination in front of the jury," Sanger said.
Tucker, the seventh comedian to take the stand in this trial, Wednesday recalled how he once warned Jackson to be wary of the accuser and his family.
"I said, 'Michael, something ain't right,'" the comedian and star of the "Rush Hour" movies said. "Watch out."
Prosecutors immediately began their rebuttal. The jury could get the case as early as the middle of next week and begin deciding whether Jackson molested the 13-year-old cancer patient at his Neverland ranch in 2003.
Jackson, 46, also is charged with giving the boy alcohol and conspiring to hold his family captive to get them to rebut a damaging TV documentary that recounted Jackson's penchant for letting children sleep in his bed.
The defense called 50 witness over three weeks, including Culkin and two other young men who disputed earlier prosecution testimony by insisting that Jackson never behaved inappropriately when they stayed at Neverland as boys.
Tucker was the final defense witness Wednesday. He said he found the accuser to be unusually cunning for a 12-year-old after meeting the boy at a benefit while the child was battling cancer in 2001.
Tucker said his suspicions about the family set in when they came to the set of a movie he was filming in Las Vegas and refused to leave. He said he paid for their hotel and expenses, but after several weeks they were still there.
On cross-examination District Attorney Tom Sneddon implied that Tucker encouraged the family by asking them to come to his brother's wedding, but Tucker said they invited themselves.
"Even Jay Leno, as weak as they say his testimony was, still showed that this mother, and her son, acted in such a way that he got spooked about it and he called the police," said Sherman Thursday on The Early Show.
Among the witnesses called as the prosecution began its rebuttal case was Neverland manager Jesus Salas, who was asked if allegations against the accuser and his brother by defense witnesses were reported to him.
The claims included the boys being involved in stealing money from a kitchen and the brother holding a knife to the throat of an assistant chef. Salas said those were not reported.
"There is no question that closing will make or break the case for the prosecution," said Murphy. "They have to highlight the things that came out of the defense witnesses that helped strengthen the prosecution's case."