- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 1, 2005

SANTA MARIA, Calif. (AP) — Jurors in the Michael Jackson child molestation trial yesterday watched the TV documentary that sparked the case, seeing the singer hold hands with his accuser and talk about hosting sleepovers with children at his Neverland ranch.

The documentary, “Living With Michael Jackson,” was shown after defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. finished an opening statement in which he implied the entertainer might testify and said authorities found no DNA evidence in Mr. Jackson’s bedroom to support the charges.

Mr. Jackson is not on the defense witness list.

Prosecutors say Mr. Jackson plied his accuser, then a 13-year-old cancer survivor, with alcohol and showed him sexually explicit images before molesting him at Neverland.

“Mr. Jackson will freely admit that he does read girlie magazines from time to time,” Mr. Mesereau said. “He absolutely does not show them to children.”

Jurors watched the documentary after prosecutors called its maker, British journalist Martin Bashir, to the stand. The documentary, taped in 2002 and aired in 2003, led to the investigation that resulted in the charges against Mr. Jackson.

At the viewing, Mr. Jackson dabbed his eyes with a tissue during a segment in which he says children are his reason for living.

As the jurors watched on a large screen in the hushed courtroom, some leaned forward in their seats, a few smiled or laughed when Mr. Jackson said humorous things, and a few bobbed their heads along with Mr. Jackson’s music.

Some smiled when the video showed Mr. Jackson singing “smile while your heart is breaking” as he left a hotel.

Although the documentary is best known for Mr. Jackson’s comments about allowing children to sleep in his bed, it also exposed jurors to a sympathetic portrayal of the singer, who is seen racing go-carts and climbing trees, as well as teaching Mr. Bashir how to “moonwalk.”

At one point, Mr. Jackson emotionally describes abuse that he says he and his brothers received from their father, Joe Jackson, during their days in the Jackson 5.

“I remember hearing my mother scream, ‘Joe, you’re going to kill him,’” Mr. Jackson says at one point.

The documentary also referred to Mr. Jackson’s relationships with adult women, and briefly showed the 2002 incident in which he dangled one of his children from a hotel balcony in Germany.

At one point, Mr. Jackson appears with the accuser and his brother and sister. The children do a dance routine in Mr. Jackson’s kitchen.

Later, the boy holds hands with Mr. Jackson and says the pop star is perpetually childlike and understands children.

“He’s really a child at heart,” the boy tells an interviewer. “You’re an adult when you want to be one.”

The boy says Mr. Jackson once told him and his brother, “If you love me, you’ll sleep in the bed.”

Mr. Jackson then tells the interviewer that the children slept in his bed and he slept on the floor in a sleeping bag.

Holding the boy’s hand tightly, Mr. Jackson says, “My greatest inspiration comes from kids. It’s all inspired by that level of purity. I see God in the face of children.”

After the viewing, Mr. Mesereau sought to have Mr. Bashir’s testimony and the documentary stricken when Mr. Bashir refused to say how many hours of videotape were recorded during the making of the program.

Judge Rodney S. Melville refused to strike the video or the testimony.

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