Latest Michael Jackson Press Releases
Saturday, April 16, 2005
Mesereau To Mother: "You're a good (actor)"
Tensions were running high in the courtroom Friday as Judge Rodney Melville warned he would stop court for the day if lead Defence attorney Thomas Mesereau and the Accuser's Mother Janet Arvizo didn't stop having heating arguments during cross-examination.
Many questions asked concerned a civil lawsuit in which the Arvizo family won over $150,000 against store chain JC Penney. Arvizo claimed she was a victim of physical abuse by security guards, however Mesereau insinuated that her then husband David Arvizo provided her physical injuries and that she used them as leverage. The witness admitted that she had lied under oath during that particular case, but claimed only through fear of her husband according to the Santa Maria Times.
The footage of a rebuttal video to the Bashir documentary Living with Michael Jackson that was filmed in February 2003 was shown in court once again. Arvizo has claimed that she and her family had a script to follow, and that it was all an act. In the video the Arvizo family lavish praise upon Michael Jackson as a father figure and financial saviour. During moments of what seemed unscripted complaints about chairs and spontaneous laughter, Mesereau asked the witness if these moments were scripted as she previously claimed, "Everything on there was choreographed" she said. "It's all acting." The witness stated that Michael's employees were not satisfied with the video, "I'm a poor actress," she said. Mesereau quickly replied, "Oh, I think you're a good one."
The Judge admonished Mesereau for his quip, however also warned the witness to stop her long-winded answers that did not relate to Mesereau's questions, according to the Associated Press. "It's as much your fault," Melville said.
Appearing to not agree on anything, the attorney and the witness even disagreed on what treatment she received at a beauty salon the day she claims to have "escaped" Neverland Valley ranch. Arvizo claimed she only had a leg wax, however Mesereau disagreed stating she had a full body wax and then proceeded to offer a receipt as proof. "I'm telling you there was only a leg wax," the witness said, she then pointed at Michael, "He has the ability to choreograph everything." Mesereau then offered another quick reply, "And how about you?"
Janet Arvizo is expected to resume answering Mesereau's questions in court on Monday.
Friday, April 15, 2005
Janet Arvizo Continues Testimony
Janet Arvizo continued providing answers to Prosecution questioning on Thursday, with cross-examination not expected until today.
Although the witness took the stand and told tales of captivity and oppression by employees of Michael Jackson, she testified that she never alerted authorities about the situation. "Who could possibly believe this?" was her excuse. She claimed that her parents and boyfriend were threatened and coerced as well as her family.
In a more controlled testimony than what she displayed on Wednesday, the witness answered Prosecutor Ron Zonen's questions about the involvement of un-indicted co-conspirators Frank Tyson and Vinnie Amen's involvement in the alleged captivity according to the Associated Press. Zonen presented Arvizo with four passports belonging to her and her children, "Finally," she exclaimed, she then looked upward and began to cry.
The witness said that between February 21st and March 10th 2003 Tyson and Amen dictated all of her activities. "All along this period, I'm trying to reach people to help me because it's evolving into more and more escalation," she said. During his opening statement, lead Defence attorney Tom Mesereau stated that during this period Janet Arvizo went on shopping sprees at Michael's expense including beauty parlours and expensive clothing stores, not the actions of a woman being held against her will. The witness claimed that she went shopping with her children during this time as all of their clothes were at Neverland Valley ranch and Tyson and Amen had placed the family in a hotel at this point.
The family apparently then returned to Neverland and her children spent time "having fun" with Michael. She testified she did not know where they slept and she was still being held captive in a guest house. Arvizo said that she phoned Louise Palanker and a few others about the situation, but only dropped clues and hints so that if her family disappeared the others could figure out the clues.
The Prosecution allege that the Arvizo family was held captive to make a rebuttal video to the Bashir documentary Living with Michael Jackson. The witness stated that she admired Michael at the point of filming but was told what to say. She also testified that she was told her performance was not good enough, "I was supposed to say Michael healed (my son) ... it's God that healed (my son)," she said. The witness said the script told them to say "That (Michael's) a wonderful father. Basically, in summary, that he's a wonderful father ... to my children." Asked by Zonen if she believed what she was saying Arvizo responded, "I was confused, I was sad, so basically I was acting."
Mesereau has been unusually quiet during Janet Arvizo's testimony with many legal analysts feeling that he is letting her speak so that he can contradict a lot of what she is saying during cross-examination, which is expected to happen today
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Accuser's Mother Takes The Stand
The Accuser's Mother Janet Arvizo finally took the stand on Wednesday after legal issues were sorted out concerning her past history of welfare fraud.
Arvizo had pleaded the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment to prevent any questions that would allow her to perjure herself under oath. Judge Melville ruled in favour of the Prosecution and prevented Arvizo being asked any questions on the subject of her welfare fraud despite strong objections by Defence attorney Robert Sanger. Melville has allowed the Defence to bring up the subject through other witnesses if they wish however.
Once the issue of welfare fraud was dealt with, the Mother then took the stand. Some legal analysts have described her testimony as nothing they have ever seen before, with sometimes dramatic and erratic answers and actions, like pointing and clicking her fingers. The witness also addressed the jury, the media and Michael Jackson himself during her testimony.
Arvizo testified about a conversation she had with Michael in a Miami hotel room shortly after the Bashir documentary Living with Michael Jackson aired. "I thought, 'What a nice guy,'" she said according to the Associated Press. "I was just like a sponge, believing him, trusting him." She said Michael made a "lovey dovey speech" in a "very male voice" claiming he would protect the family as a father figure. She claimed he also said, "that he loves us, that he cares about us, we're family... That we were in the back of the line, now we're in the front of the line, that he's going to protect us from those killers." To ad to the Prosecution's conspiracy charge, the witness also proclaimed, "And you know what? They ended up being the killers."
Prosecutor Ron Zonen asked the witness about an alleged incident that occurred on the flight back to Santa Barbara from Miami in which Michael is accused of licking Gavin Arvizo's head. In previous testimony, Star Arvizo claimed to have witnessed the incident and flight attendant Cynthia Ann Bell stated she saw nothing. The witness said the incident occurred when everyone was sleeping, however in previous testimony by Bell, the flight attendant stated that only one passenger was sleeping on that particular fight, a doctor who was woken up by Gavin Arvizo throwing food at him. "Everyone was asleep. I had not slept for so long," Arvizo said. "I got up. I figured this was my chance to figure out what was going on back there. And that's when I saw Michael licking (my son's) head." She went on, "I thought I was seeing things. I thought it was me." Before testifying about the alleged incident, the witness turned to jurors and asked them not to judge her.
Lead Defence attorney Thomas Mesereau did not have a chance to cross-examine the witness on Wednesday, however unlike with any other witness, the attorney never objected once to Arvizo's testimony and she was allowed to keep on talking, sometimes against the wishes of Zonen who was questioning her.
Zonen played a recording of a phone conversation between Janet Arvizo and Frank Tyson just before court recessed. "Let us take care of you. Let us protect you," Tyson is heard saying. "Trust me... Now is not the time to be out there alone." When asked about the conversation, the witness said, "I thought (Tyson) was a good guy ... and he ended up being the worst of all of them."
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Accuser's Stepfather testifies
The stepfather of Gavin Arvizo took the stand yesterday to testify about allegations relating to the conspiracy charge against Michael Jackson.
Jay Jackson (no relation to Michael) is a Major in the U.S. Army and married Janet Arvizo in 2004. The two started seeing each other in 2002. The witness recollected during questioning by Prosecutor Ron Zonen a conversation he had with un-indicted co-conspirator Frank Tyson following the airing of the Martin Bashir documentary Living with Michael Jackson in February 2003, in which the Arvizo children appeared.
Tyson apparently phoned the home of Jay Jackson and Janet Arvizo to discuss a rebuttal video to the Bashir documentary, which would feature the Arvizo family. However the witness said he took over the conversation from the Accuser's Mother, "I said, 'What are you offering this family to do this?'," he testified. "I thought they were taking advantage of this family. And I said, 'What are you offering?' And he said, 'We're offering protection.' The stepfather continued according to the Associated Press, "I said, 'Frank, the family doesn't need protection. Who are you protecting them from?'" Tyson then apparently offered a house and a college education but the witness said he was not interested, and asked what - if any - money was going to be provided, to which Tyson apparently responded, "Are you trying to blackmail us?" The stepfather said he was not blackmailing and had never received money from Michael.
The witness told how he received frantic phone calls from Janet Arvizo during the time the family alleges they were held captive. Louise Palanker and Jamie Masada have already testified to receiving similar calls. The stepfather said the Mother seemed "distressed, disturbed." He went on, "She said she was not able to see her children, that when she went off Neverland she had a chaperone."
To start his cross-examination of the witness, lead Defence attorney Thomas Mesereau played a twenty-minute audiotape, which had already been heard in court, where the Arvizo family lavish praise upon Michael saying how much of a father-figure he is and how he their financial saviour. The witness was said to be rocking in his chair while listening to the tape, occasionally rolling his eyes and shaking his head.
During questioning, Mesereau asked questions about reporters from the British tabloid The Daily Mail offering money for a story following on from the airing of the Bashir documentary in Britain, which aired three days before it did in the U.S. The family were apparently offered $15,000 however the witness stated that although he took part in discussions about money for a story the family never provided any and were never paid by the tabloid. Although it's uncertain whether or not they were paid, an article containing an interview with the family was published according to Roger Friedman of FOX News, just not in the U.S.
The witness described February 2003 as a hectic time for the Arvizo family, with the Bashir documentary, flights to and from Miami in the aftermath, trips to Neverland Valley ranch, an audio tape interview with an investigator as well as the filming the rebuttal video. "And in the middle of all this turmoil, to your knowledge, molestation began on the 20th (of February)?" asked Mesereau. Judge Melville sustained an objection from the Prosecution after Mesereau made the almost sarcastic remark.
Testimony from Janet Arvizo herself is expected to begin today.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
June Chandler Testifies
The Mother of the 1993 Accuser Jordan Chandler took the stand yesterday to testify her son's relationship with Michael Jackson.
Before she testified, Bob Jones - a long time employee of Michael who was recently fired - took the stand as a Prosecution witness. However Jones did not testify to Prosecutor Gordon Auchincloss's satisfaction. The Prosecution had hoped that Jones would state under oath that he saw Michael lick the head of Jordan Chandler on a flight in 1993, however when asked if he witnessed this he answered, "No, sir."
Auchincloss then followed that answer by asking Jones if he ever stated during an interview with the Prosecutor and a sheriff's investigator that he saw the alleged incident, "I was very adamant in saying I was not sure," Jones said according to the Associated Press. "I don't recall anything about licking. ... I don't recall ever seeing any head licking."
Jones is currently trying to broker a deal to publish a book he has co-written with Stacey Brown about his many years of employment by Michael. Auchincloss read out passages of the book, which implied he witnessed inappropriate behaviour between Michael and Jordan Chandler in 1993. However, under cross-examination by lead Defence attorney Thomas Mesereau, Jones admitted that Brown wrote the passages and he checks them for accuracy and that the passage Auchincloss had read out was not accurate. "When you were dealing with your co-writer and publisher you were not under oath, and of course today you are," Mesereau said. Jones agreed.
Brown was next to take the stand, he testified about the accuracy of the passages of the book he had co-written with Jones as well as emails that had been sent about the passages. Auchincloss asked if Jones dismissing answers on the stand have anything to do with his recent lack of financial trouble, Brown agreed. "So you mean that when Mr. Jones needed the money, there was licking, but when he didn't need it, there wasn't any?" Mesereau asked.
Once Brown's testimony finished, June Chandler was next to testify. She admitted that she has not spoken to her son (who is now 25) in eleven years, which she claims is not her choice. Chandler stated that Michael slept in the same bed as her son repeatedly in 1993 even though she had initial reservations. She testified that when she originally turned down a request to let Michael sleep in the same bed as her son, he got upset. "He was sobbing and crying, shaking and trembling," she said. "He said, 'You don't trust me? We're a family. ... (Jordan) is having fun. Why can't he sleep in my bed? There's nothing wrong. There's nothing going on."' Chandler claimed this was during a trip to Las Vegas at the Mirage hotel, which they travelled to in Las Vegas pioneer Steve Wynn's jet.
The Prosecution claim that Michael has a "pattern" of bribing his accusers and their families, Chandler stated under questioning by Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon that the day after letting her son sleep in the same bed as Michael she received a gold bracelet. As well as going to Neverland Valley ranch, Las Vegas and Disneyland, the family were also taken to Monaco for the World Music Awards. Chandler said that she was "given (Michael's) credit card" to go shopping with her daughter. She said she was also later given a ring, a pair of earrings, a necklace and a $7,000 gift certificate for a Hollywood boutique as gifts.
Michael was said to be repeatedly shaking his head during Chandler's testimony according to the news-press, and often whispering to his attorneys.
During cross-examination, Mesereau asked Chandler about the lawsuit in which her son as well as her and her ex-husband received a financial settlement as well as the fact that Michael counter-sued them for extortion. She claimed to know nothing about it. "When you filed the lawsuit, your attorney was threatening to ruin Mr. Jackson's music deals, correct?" Mesereau asked. "I don't recall," she answered. The witness denied that she asked Michael for $4 million because they were $5 million in debt. She also denied that she went to an attorney before going to the police with her son's allegations, "Your strategy was to negotiate a settlement before ever contacting authorities, correct?" asked Mesereau. "There was no strategy. Sorry," Chandler responded.
Mesereau noted that during an interview with Los Angeles Prosecutors in 1993 Chandler stated, "Michael Jackson wasn't the superstar. He was a regular person. We couldn't believe how nice he was," and that "when Michael Jackson is not working, he's a lonely person." Mesereau went on, "And did you ever tell the Los Angeles District Attorney that your ex-husband said the relationship with Michael was a wonderful means for (Jordan) to not have to worry for the rest of his life?" he asked. "Yes," Chandler replied.
June Chandler did not describe witnessing any acts of the alleged molestation on her son, who has refused to testify to verify any claims made.
Before the day ended, Duane Swingler - who was House Manager at Neverland for five weeks in the summer of 2003 - took the stand according to FOX News. His testimony took a blow when he admitted, "I was going to cash in like everyone else."
Prosecutor Ron Zonen told the court at the day's end that Janet Arvizo - the current Accuser's Mother - could be called to testify as early as today or Wednesday if legal matters concerning her testimony are resolved by then. June Chandler is expected to be the last witness called by Prosecutors testifying about alleged "prior bad acts".
Saturday, April 09, 2005
Former Neverland Chef Testifies
A former chef of Neverland Valley ranch testified yesterday that he witnessed Michael Jackson inappropriately touch Macauley Culkin in the arcade room.
Before he took the stand, former Neverland maid Adrian McManus finished her testimony. Lead Defence attorney Thomas Mesereau continued his cross-examination, and the witness admitted that she and others sought out a media broker to sell their stories to tabloids.
One story she sold was inside information into Michael's sexual relationship with his ex-wife Lisa-Marie Presley. "You were quoted in a Star story with the headline, 'Kinky secrets of Michael and Lisa Marie's bedroom,'" Mesereau said. "I didn't say that," McManus said, "A lot of times with those tabloids they say other stuff." The witness claimed she knew nothing of the relationship between the couple according to the Associated Press.
Once McManus finished her testimony, the Prosecution called Phillip LeMarque to the stand. LeMarque and his wife were both chefs at Neverland in 1991. The witness claims he saw Michael holding Macauley Culkin up to an arcade game with one hand on his waist and the other in Culkin's shorts. LeMarque stated he saw this while delivering french fries and quietly left the room before re-entering announcing himself in the process, "I was shocked. Culkin has always denied anything inappropriate happened between he and Michael.
I almost dropped the french fries". Although the alleged incident happened in 1991, LeMarque never told anyone until investigators questioned him in 1993 about the Jordan Chandler case. His reason for not telling anyone beforehand was he thought, "nobody would have ever believed this." When cross-examined by Mesereau, LeMarque acknowledged that he and his wife considered selling their stories to the tabloids, and even demanded $500,000 but claimed they backed out because "it was against (their) principles." He and his wife also sued Michael for unpaid overtime after they quit and the case was settled.
Mesereau had wanted to bring up the fact that LeMarque operated an explicit adult website, however Judge Melville denied the request stating that the information could be used to impeach the witness and the website was made years after LeMarque had worked at Neverland according to the Santa Maria Times.
Friday, April 08, 2005
Former Bodyguard And Maid Testify
Two of Michael Jackson's former employees at Neverland Valley ranch who had previously lost a lawsuit against him a decade ago testified yesterday that they witnessed him molest young children.
Former bodyguard Ralph Chacon and former maid Adrian McManus were two of five former employees who sued Michael for millions of dollars for wrongful termination in a trial that lasted six months and which Michael won - forcing the employees to pay him a total of $1.4 million.
Chacon was the first to take the stand and was questioned by Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon. The witness claimed that in late 1992 or early 1993 he looked through a pool house window and saw Michael performing oral sex on Jordan Chandler, the boy who reached a financial settlement in 1994. Chacon also claimed to have witnessed Michael being "passionate" with Chandler as they took a dip in an outdoor Jacuzzi and showered according to the Associated Press. The witness said he saw Michael kiss Chandler's head and shoulders and then moved his hand "down to his private area," he also described an alleged incident where they went to a Peter pan display by golf cart and Michael kissed him again.
Lead Defence attorney Thomas Mesereau utilised his cross-examination to strongly question the credibility of Chacon. Mesereau claimed the witness made these stories up "to get even" with Michael for losing a lengthy trial in which he tried to "extort" $16 million and ended up having to pay out. "After a six-month trial, this is a good way to get even with him, isn't it?" Mesereau asked Chacon, which quickly prompted an objection by the Prosecution.
Mesereau concentrated on the lawsuit Chacon and others filed, and the witness acknowledged that he was ordered by a jury decision to pay Michael $25,000 for stealing his property, although he claimed it was only a candy bar. Chacon also admitted that he and the others who filed the lawsuit sold their stories to tabloid publications, but he claimed the $17,000 they were given went straight to their lawyer to cover legal costs. When asked by Mesereau whether or not his story was drafted at the attorney's office, Chacon replied, "I probably did ... It's been a long time." Mesereau quickly retorted, "Well it's no longer than some of these events you claim to have witnessed with Mr. Jackson." After a pause the witness said, "I probably did. I did."
The witness denied Mesereau's implications that he had added "more lurid facts" each time his story was told, but admitted he recently remembered new information after meeting with Sneddon this week. "Did you say you forgot to say things about Mr. Jackson molesting young men in 1993?" asked Mesereau. "Yes, sir," said Chacon. "And now you remember them in 2005?" Mesereau said. "Vaguely, yes," the witness replied.
McManus was next to take the stand; she was a maid at Neverland from 1990-1994. The witness claimed she saw Michael kiss Macauley Culkin on the cheek while holding his bottom. Culkin (who is godfather to two of Michael's children) has always denied anything inappropriate happened between him and his good friend. McManus described similar incidents with two other boys and an incident involving Jordan Chandler.
She acknowledged that when subpoenaed in the lawsuit that eventually resulted in Chandler receiving a financial settlement she didn't tell attorneys she witnesses Michael touching him. "I didn't tell the truth. I said I didn't see anything," she said. During cross-examination, Mesereau had to repeatedly show McManus her own deposition to remind her as she frequently stated she could not remember what she had said. "Do you know how many times you lied under oath in the ... deposition?" asked Mesereau. "The whole time," she said. "I believe I didn't tell the truth." She claimed she didn't say anything as she needed her job and at that point she was the sole income for her family with a house payment due.
Mesereau pointed out to the jury that the witness was judged to have stolen a sketch of Elvis Presley by Michael, which she sold to tabloids and was assessed $30,000. As well as concentrating on the lawsuit the former employees brought against Michael, Mesereau talked about a separate lawsuit in which McManus and her husband were found to have defrauded three children of more than $30,500 from their estate.
Today's proceedings are set to see McManus resume her testimony.
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Jason Francia Cross-Examined
Lead Defence attorney Thomas Mesereau cross-examined Jason Francia yesterday about his claims that he was molested by Michael Jackson fifteen years ago.
Mesereau concentrated on interviews given to investigators between 1993 and 2004, and implied that the investigators were pushing for him to say that he was molested although he initially denied the claims. "It was only after you were pushed real hard by the sheriffs that you began to say anything like that," Mesereau said. Francia claimed he could not remember, which would become a frequent answer during his cross-examination, much like when the Arvizo children were cross-examined at the start of the trial.
A segment from an interview Francia had with investigators was read out by Mesereau to refresh the witnesses' memory, "They made me come up with a lot more stuff. They kept pushing. I wanted to hit them in the head." Again, Francia claimed he could not remember, according to the Associated Press. The witness was still unable to remember when Mesereau showed him the transcript of the interview, "Do you remember anything you said in that interview?" the attorney asked, "No," Francia replied.
Francia was last week described as a problematic witness by Mesereau, and he certainly set out to be difficult for the attorney. When Mesereau was trying to point out inconsistencies with his statements, the witness answered, "I don't mean to sound like I'm wasting your time," he said. "It's hard being up here." "Just answer my question," said Mesereau.
Once the witness finished his testimony, the attorney that represented him and his Mother then took the stand. Kris Kallman claimed he reached a financial settlement with Michael's then attorneys in 1995 or 1996, following on from complaints made in 1994 according to the Santa Maria Times. Kallman said the settlement stated it was not an admission of guilt on Michael's part, and that he was only paying to protect his name and image.
Jason Francia's Mother Blanca also took the stand. She worked for Michael as a maid for his different homes from 1986 to 1991. She claimed she was concerned about Michael's behaviour with her son when she saw her son on his lap, and that Michael said he was teaching him to read. The witness also said she saw two figures in a shower that seemed to be Michael and another boy with both their underpants on the floor, as well as testifying that he slept in the same bed as Macauley Culkin when he was a child. During cross-examination, Mesereau established that that her stories changed with each interview she gave and implied she had a financial motive and that she didn't get on with anyone who worked at Neverland Valley ranch.
There will be no proceedings today, as the trial has been recessed until Thursday.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Previous Accuser Testifies
After Judge Rodney Melville ruled last Monday that Prosecutors could admit evidence and testimony of "prior bad acts" on the part of Michael Jackson, an Accuser who reached a financial settlement over a decade ago took the stand yesterday.
Jason Francia is a now 24-year-old man who's Mother reached a financial settlement in 1994 (shortly after the Jordan Chandler allegations reached a settlement) after claims that Michael molested him in 1990. When taking the witness stand he was asked to identify Michael, smiling he said, "He's the light-complected gentleman." Francia told Prosecutor Ron Zonen that he was touched inappropriately on three occasions, during tickling games.
Before Francia took the stand, former Neverland Valley ranch House Manager Jesus Salas continued his testimony from Friday. Salas testified it was his impression that the Arvizo's were being held captive at Neverland, and he helped the family "escape" according to the Santa Maria Times. Although he admitted to no personal knowledge of any captivity, a crying Janet Arvizo persuaded him. "I talked to the Mother and she's the one who told me," he said. The family were then driven away from Neverland in a Rolls Royce. Salas claimed that un-indicted co-conspirators Dieter Weisner and Frank Tyson chastised him when they learned the family had left. The witness recounted what Tyson had told him, "they (the family) weren't supposed to leave the property. They were supposed to be notified first."
Although in a blatant contradiction, during cross-examination by lead Defence attorney Thomas Mesereau, Salas said that the Accuser's Mother "was never locked in her room,'' according to the AFP and he added that "at no time was she held at Neverland Ranch against her will'' and that she never said "her children had been taken advantage of at Neverland.''
When asked about seeing any children drunk at Neverland, Salas said he had seen three teenagers drunk in October 2002, he admitted to being unsure whether or not Michael was with them that day. The witness testified that he delivered alcohol to Michael's bedroom when Gavin Arvizo, his brother, and two other children were there, although he stated he also delivered sodas for the children. For Prosecutors, Salas testified that he often saw Michael intoxicated at Neverland, but under cross-examination, he acknowledged that in 2002 Michael had a prescription drug problem that would leave him appear intoxicated.
Once Salas' testimony ended, Francia then took the stand. The witness claimed that the first two occasions he was touched it was in the genital area, but over his shorts during the tickling games. "We were watching cartoons and he just started tickling me which was - cool," the witness said. "It eventually moved down to my little private region, I guess ... around my crotch area. You know, you're 7, you didn't think it was wrong. ... I probably did think it was weird but not super-weird because you were tickling," he said. Francia described the second alleged incident in much the same way.
However on the alleged third incident, it was under his shorts according to the Associated Press. "We were tickling. He was tickling and I was laughing and the - it was, he was - he was tickling me in the..." Francia said, he then asked the Judge for a break as he drank water and wiped his eyes. "This took a lot of counselling to get over, just to let you know," he said to Zonen after apologising for his interrupted testimony. The Defence asked for the comment to stricken from the record, the Judge agreed. Francia went on, "he was tickling me. I was wearing shorts again. ... He reached on my leg and I'm still laughing and he reached up to my - privates," the witness said. Francia said that he was given $100 after the first two incidents, but not the third.
As cross-examination began, Mesereau almost instantly tried to establish a financial motive on the part of Francia's Mother, there was little time left in the proceedings at this point. Mesereau pointed out to the witness that as well as the financial settlement in 1994, his Mother received $20,000 from a TV show at the time called Hard Copy, which Court TV reporter Diane Dimond worked for. Although Francia says he saw the show at the time it aired, he claims he only learned of the payment a few days ago.
The witness said he never discussed the incidents until investigators asked him questions regarding the Chandler allegations in 1993. "They just came one day and surprised you?" Mesereau replied, creating laughter amongst Michael Jackson's fans that were in the courtroom, they were then admonished by the Judge. Francia testified he told investigators he tried to block out the alleged incidents from his memory, "I didn't want to ever talk about this stuff again," he said. Mesereau asked the witness if he ever answered the investigators question, "This is what happened, right?" with the reply, "I'll have to work on that." Francia claimed he did not remember saying that. The witness also claimed he denied any abuse ever happened originally because he was "scared".
Francia's cross-examination is expected to resume today with Mesereau concentrating on exposing him as what he called a "problematic" witness.
Monday, April 04, 2005
Michael Jackson Calls In To Fan Event
Michael Jackson called fans who attended a support gathering organised by MJFC to thank them for their support.
"I love you," were Michael's first words, quickly replied with screams of "We love you!" right back at him.
"You understand I can't be there today," he said. "I wish I could. ... I know you've traveled from around the world and I'm glad you came." Michael went on, "God and the truth are on our side. We will be victorious."
"I truly believe I have the most wonderful fans in the world," Michael proclaimed, "I'm looking forward to being with you very soon. Keep on dancing. I love you all very much."
Once the phone conversation ended, HIStory's D.S. started to play according to the Associated Press.
Saturday, April 02, 2005
Second Civil Attorney Takes The Stand
Jurors heard testimony from the Arvizo family's second civil attorney in a matter of days on Friday as Larry Feldman took the stand.
Feldman was the attorney who reached a cash settlement in 1993 for Jordan Chandler when Michael Jackson was accused of allegations similar to which he is now facing. He also represents the Arvizo family since their first civil attorney William Dickerman, who testified on Wednesday, referred the family to him. Feldman testified he was referred to after a dispute about the family's appearance in the Living with Michael Jackson documentary, and he in return referred the family to psychologist Stan Katz "to make out some heads or tails of what was being told to me by the family."
District Attorney Tom Sneddon asked the witness if the Arvizo family ever discussed a financial settlement. "There was no lawsuit and there were no plans to file a lawsuit," Feldman said. "It was up to you to investigate," he said referring to Sneddon. A photograph of Chandler from 1993 was projected with the permission of Judge Melville, "He was much better looking at that age. He was adorable," Feldman said. Melville had that comment stricken from the record.
Feldman went on to discuss the '93 case according to the Associated Press. "Mr. Jackson's legal team wanted confidentiality," he said. "They didn't want anybody talking about this and they were concerned that the parents get money so the parents couldn't talk." Although Feldman admitted he has met with the Accuser's Mother since he ceased to represent her officially because of the case starting, he re-iterated that he was never asked about a financial settlement, "I have never been asked to file any lawsuit against Michael Jackson."
During cross-examination by lead Defence attorney Tom Mesereau, Feldman confirmed that Gavin and Star Arvizo have until they reach 20-years-old to file a civil lawsuit against Michael for the means of financial compensation. "If Mr. Jackson was convicted of felony child molestation in this case, (the Accuser and his brother) could use that case to win a civil case alleging similar or same facts against Mr. Jackson, is that correct?" asked Mesereau. "That's correct," Feldman replied. The witness also admitted that his firm are still representing the Accuser.
Mesereau insinuated that Feldman turned the case over to authorities to avoid legal costs of a drawn out civil case, an allegation he denied. Although Feldman admitted a civil case would be easier with a federal conviction, a large payout woul not be guaranteed, "That ain't the way it works," he said according to the Santa Maria Times. The witness claimed he didn't want to put Gavin Arvizo through two cases because of his illness, from which he has now recovered, "It's almost inhumane to have a cancer patient go through a criminal case and then go through a civil case," he said.
When making his opening statement to the jury at the beginning of the trial, Mesereau stated that Feldman had told talk show host Larry King during a lunch that the Janet Arvizo had wanted money, another allegation he denied. "I didn't tell them or anybody else about what anybody tells me," he said. "It is absolutely privileged and if anybody tells you that they are absolutely lying."
Once Feldman's testimony concluded, sheriff's Lt. Jeff Klapackis took the stand to testify about the search on Neverland Valley ranch. The President of Ventura phone systems then testified that although the phones at Neverland have a function to listen in on other calls made, there is nothing to stop 911 being dialled.
The day's proceedings ended with Neverland House Manager of twenty years Jesus Salas on the stand; he is expected to continue his testimony on Monday. Sneddon is expected to commence introducing evidence and testimony concerning 1993 then also.
Defence attorneys have stated they feel there should be a mistrial as they have evidence that witnesses have discussed the case with each other, which is against court rules.