Jackson prosecution derailed by ex-wife's testimony

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The Independent US

The prosecution in the Michael Jackson trial always knew it had a witness credibility problem, since the family at the centre of its child molestation allegations has an acknowledged track record of lying under oath.

The prosecution in the Michael Jackson trial always knew it had a witness credibility problem, since the family at the centre of its child molestation allegations has an acknowledged track record of lying under oath.

Now, with just days to go before it hands the case over to the defence, the prosecution has developed a new problem of credibility - its own. The appearance of Jackson's ex-wife, Debbie Rowe, on the witness stand last week was little short of a disaster for Santa Barbara County district attorney Tom Sneddon and his team. For weeks they had announced how Ms Rowe would testify that she was pressed into giving a scripted interview for a propaganda video in the wake of Martin Bashir's damaging documentary Living with Michael Jackson.

Ms Rowe was intended to be the prosecution's climactic witness. Her promised allegations of coercion were to be an important element bolstering the contentions of the Arvizo family that they were effectively held hostage at Jackson's Neverland Ranch.

As late as Monday, prosecutor Ron Zonen assured jurors Ms Rowe would describe giving "a highly scripted interview" and that her incentive for doing so was access to her children, Prince Michael, eight, and Paris, seven. Jackson's lawyers were worried enough to try to have her testimony disqualified before it started.

When Ms Rowe appeared on Wednesday, however, shedescribed Jackson as a friend, a great father and a "brilliant" companion to children. She said unequivocally that her interview for the video was unscripted and uncoerced.

Jurors will now find it harder to believe anything the prosecution tells them - which has to be excellent news for Jackson and his team.

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