CBSN

Jackson 'Relieved' Defense Is Done

Michael Jackson walks with his father Joe, right, after a day of testimony in his child molestation trial Wednesday, May 25, 2005, in Santa Maria, Calif.
AP
Hollywood celebrities led a parade of 50 witnesses who testified in Michael Jackson's defense, but the real star of the trial — the singer himself — never took the stand, as the defense rested its case Wednesday.

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."

  • David Hancock On Google+»

    David Hancock is a home page editor for CBSNews.com.