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Jackson's Ex Raises Eyebrows

Michael Jackson and Debbie Rowe headshot, singer and girlfriend, photo 1996
AP
Does Debbie Rowe have more to say?

An ex-wife of Michael Jackson and the mother of his two oldest children, Rowe took the witness stand Wednesday as a prosecution witness and will continue her testimony Thursday at the pop star's child molestation trial.

Rowe - who is currently embroiled in a dispute with Jackson over visiting the children - dealt the prosecution a startling setback as she said through tears that she was never scripted or rehearsed to say positive things about Jackson to rebut a damaging TV documentary.

She only testified for about 40 minutes on Wednesday, but almost every answer she gave caused reporters to gasp, reports CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales. The drama began the moment Rowe took the stand and identified herself as "Deborah Rowe Jackson." She also quickly called her ex a friend.

"When Debbie Rowe came on the witness stand, she did everything the prosecution didn't want her to do," said CBS News Legal Analyst Trent Copeland. "This suggests to me that either this is a prosecution that, at the end of their case, is either scrambling for witnesses or they really can't control their witnesses."

Prosecutors had called Deborah Rowe to bolster their argument that Jackson conspired to hold the accuser's family captive to get them to rebut the documentary, in which the singer said he lets children sleep in his bed. The accuser's mother claims a video she recorded praising Jackson was made under duress and that every word was from a script.

The prosecution had said Rowe would offer similar testimony — that she was also pressured to praise Jackson in a video — but her testimony Wednesday did not reflect that.

"I didn't want anyone to be able to come back to me and say my interview was rehearsed," Rowe said. "As Mr. Jackson knows, no one can tell me what to say."

However, a cliffhanger came at the end of the day when Rowe admitted not answering truthfully in the rebuttal interview, specifically about Michael Jackson's parenting abilities, reports Gonzales. But before she could explain, the judge adjourned for the day.

Copeland said the question for Thursday's testimony is what she didn't tell the truth about and how damaging it will be to Michael Jackson.

Before that, Rowe reiterated that she had been offered a list of questions by her interviewers but she declined to look at them before she talked.

"It was a cold interview and I wanted to keep it that way," she said.

Rowe glanced at Jackson as she spoke. The pop star, dressed in a maroon suit, showed no obvious reaction to her testimony.

"Now prosecutors have to go back to the drawing board and figure out why Rowe didn't deliver what they had hoped and expected she would when they called her to the stand," says CBS News Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen.

"First they have to figure out if she has backed away from what she had told them earlier, in which case they might have to attack the credibility of their own witness," Cohen said

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