Jackson replaces his legal team for molestation trial

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The Independent US

Michael Jackson has replaced the legal team defending him against charges of child molestation.

His former lawyers, Mark Geragos and Benjamin Brafman, said they had decided to step down. The singer's new lawyer will be Thomas Mesereau Jr, who recently left the team representing the actor Robert Blake on charges of murder.

Mr Brafman said: "Based on recent developments and discussions with various persons in the Jackson camp, it became clear that it would be best if Mark and I stepped down. And that's what we elected to do."

Asked why, Mr Brafman said: "For reasons we choose not to discuss publicly." He added: "We both wish Michael well."

A grand jury decided last week that Mr Jackson should stand trial on charges of molesting Gavin Arvizo, aged 12. He is expected to be arraigned on Friday and the trial is expected to go ahead in December. The singer, who is on £3m bail, has denied seven counts of molesting Gavin during sleepovers at his Neverland Ranch and two of administering an intoxicating substance.

Dana Cole, an attorney who has worked closely with Mr Mesereau, said Mr Mesereau was approached by Mr Jackson soon after he was charged with child molestation. Mr Mesereau was unwilling to take the case at the time because he was tied up with the Blake case.

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